Tucked into an urban Pasadena neighborhood in Southern California, the Dervaes family has been living the homestead lifestyle by growing and selling produce, raising chickens and teaching workshops on a variety of topics, including how to store eggs.
They proudly run The Urban Homestead to provide fresh ingredients to local families, and in the process have rescued several chickens that produce eggs daily.
“People need to be conscious of the fact that eggs are gifts from a living creature,” said Anaïs Dervaes, who takes care of the family’s bird brood. “So we make sure our eggs come from happy hens.”
To make sure your eggs stay fresh for many meals to come, read on for expert tips from farmers around the country who’ve been handling the delicious delicacies for decades.
Keep Eggs Refrigerated for Lasting Freshness
In the United States, egg farmers are required to bathe eggs and sterilize them before sale. This means eggs lose their “egg bloom,” a natural cuticle that protects from harmful bacteria. So they need to be refrigerated to avoid spoiling.
“Once we scour off the shell’s protective layer, bacteria can get inside so an egg must be chilled from then on to keep it safe,” said Lucie Amundsen, author of Locally Laid: How We Build a Plucky, Industry-Changing Egg Farm – from Scratch about her family farm in Minnesota that is currently home to 600 chickens.
“In nearly the entirely of E.U., eggs are not washed and thus do not need to be refrigerated at all,” she said, adding that Europe uses a salmonella vaccination program instead to protect consumers.
But if you raise chickens at home – or plan to in the future – you don’t have to wash or refrigerate your own eggs, as long as you plan to eat them within a month, said Dervaes.
“But once you remove that bloom, it becomes porous, degrades faster and they’re not shelf stable,” she said.
Protect Eggs in the Cool Areas of a Refrigerator
Egg cartons or egg baskets – like the ones pictured above – are the best ways to store eggs at home. Just make sure to keep them in a cool spot in the refrigerator.
“Eggs should not be stored on the refrigerator door because the temperature varies there,” said Amundsen.
Dervaes agreed that eggs should be stored in the main body of the fridge, but advised cooks to choose one of the middle shelves, as the back of the top shelf may get too cool and freeze eggs.
And if you find cracked eggs in a store-bought carton, throw them away or compost them immediately.
“Because pathogens can get inside fissures in a shell, if you’re not eating right away, it’s best to toss a cracked egg,” said Amundsen. “It’s just not worth the risk.”
Also keep in mind that jumbo-sized eggs are the most fragile of the egg sizes.
“A chicken produces the same amount of shell covering no matter the egg size, so you can think of it as blowing up a balloon: The shell just gets thinner, more delicate, and prone to breakage,” said Amundsen.
Store Eggs Fat-Side Up for the Best Taste
To create the best meal, store eggs with the largest part facing up, because an egg does not completely fill its shell and has a pocket of air in it that usually forms on the large end.
“When the egg is inverted, it keeps that air pocket away from the yolk, and it will stay fresher longer,” said Amundsen. “Plus, if you hard-boil it, an egg stored this way will have a centered yellow. Those stored fat-side down, or on their sides, will have an off-kilter yolk.”
Since hard-boiled eggs are the easiest to grab on-the-go for her busy family, Amundsen said she’s become a master at the egg-cooking technique.
But no matter how you take your eggs, remember to eat them before the expiration date!
Not sure of the date?
You can easily check and see if you’re eggs have gone bad if you set them in a bowl of water. Toss the ones that float, and save the ones that sink!