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You must have heard or read about conflicting facts about storing eggs in the refrigerator. In the US, it’s generally considered unsafe to store eggs at room temperature. That’s why it’s common for Americans to refrigerate their eggs. Conversely, most European countries consider refrigerating eggs unnecessary. So, you must be left wondering how to store eggs so they can last longer? Well, this article talks about everything you need to know on how to store and handle eggs.

How Long Can You Store Eggs for Before They Go Bad?

Eggs can last surprisingly long when stored properly. In the United States and other countries like Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Japan, eggs require refrigeration because they are washed and sanitized as soon as they are laid. This is to prevent them from being contaminated with Salmonella, a type of bacteria that’s responsible for food poisoning from poultry products.

While washing eggs removes bacteria, you also remove the natural protective cuticle. This makes it easier for bacteria to get through the shell and contaminate the eggs. When you refrigerate eggs, you slow down the growth of bacteria, hence preventing contamination.

If stored at the right refrigerator temperature (40 degrees Fahrenheit or four degrees Celsius), eggs rarely go bad. However, they won’t stay good forever. With time, the air pockets in eggs increase in size, and the yolk and whites thin out and become less springy. Eventually, the eggs may simply dry out.

Eggs can keep good in the fridge for four to five weeks. If you freeze them, they can stay for a year or longer. However, it’s not recommended to freeze eggs in the shell. So, consider cracking them into a freezer-safe container before freezing them.

For people living in European and African countries, where hens are vaccinated against Salmonella and eggs are not washed and refrigerated as they do in the US, they can be kept at room temperature for up to three weeks.

After three weeks, the quality of the eggs starts to decline and their defense mechanism starts to weaken.

How to Store Eggs to Keep Them Fresh Purchased Eggs

When buying eggs, check them closely for cracks in the shell. You should also pay attention to the sell-by date to make sure you have at least 30 days before the expiry date to use them. Most people throw away the egg carton and store them in a different bowl or in the eggs caddy that comes with your fridge. However, it’s recommended to always store eggs in their original carton. The reason being that eggshells have thousands of tiny pores that may absorb strong odors and flavors of other foods in the refrigerator. The carton protects the eggs and prevents this from happening. Secondly, the expiry date is usually printed on the egg carton. Unless you jot down the date on a separate paper, you may forget what it was when you throw the carton. And another thing. Most people don’t know this, but eggs should be stored with the large end up. This helps to keep the yolk at the center. Additionally, avoid refrigerating eggs on the fridge door. The reason being that every time you open the fridge, the temperature fluctuates, making the eggs vulnerable to bacteria. If you don’t have the egg carton, place the eggs in a bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and place them on a shelf in the fridge.

If You Own Chickens… Keep the Nesting Box Clean

This ensures that the eggs stay clean. You should also change the nesting box bedding often and keep it thick to prevent the eggs from breaking. Collect eggs as often as possible, at least twice a day. Scrap roosts at least each morning and replaces the coop litter regularly. This should help to keep the eggs clean and not covered in chicken poop or mud.

Don’t Wash the Eggs

Don’t wash eggs immediately after collecting them. The natural protective later on the shell’s surface helps to keep out bacteria. Leaving the eggs intact ensures that they stay fresh for longer. However, remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling eggs. While the eggs might look clean, there’s still a high probability they contain bacteria on the shell.

Wash Eggs Just Before Using

When you’re ready to cook those eggs, rinse them under warm tap water. Plain water will work just fine. The eggs shells make for a good source of calcium for your chicken. Simply crush them and feed them to the chickens.

How to Tell if an Egg is Fresh

An old egg starts to show signs of aging on the shell. It’s usually a different color than fresh eggs. You can also do the float test. Simply fill a glass with water and drop the egg into the glass. A fresh egg will stay sunk at the bottom of the glass. An egg that’s more than a week old will start to rise off the bottom of the glass. The egg is still good to eat, just not fresh. However, these tests will not tell if an egg has gone bad. The only sure test is a sniff test – you can never mistake the odor of a rotten egg. Always crack eggs separately before mixing them with other ingredients. This way, in case it’s bad, it won’t affect your other ingredients.

All images by Shutterstock

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