There is an age-old debate surrounding the idea of washing fresh eggs, and there are really two ways of looking at it.
To understand why there are so many questions surrounding the great-egg-washing debacle, we need to go over the concerns that arise around egg-washing.
Why Wash Eggs
Rightfully so, egg-washing is a must. Period. And at this point, I think everyone pretty much agrees on that. Where the fog rolls in, is when to wash your eggs and how to wash eggs.
You see, when it comes to chickens, everything comes out of the same hole. Which isn’t the problem when concerning hygiene, but what does cause a problem is when eggs come in contact with droppings, or other environmental bacteria, that can cause severe, sometimes deadly illnesses in those who consume them.
- Coli is just one of the deadly bacteria’s that can get into your eggs, especially when you crack them open without washing them.
Do I Have to Wash Store-Bought Eggs?
If you have a fresh package of eggs from the grocery store, you can probably assume that the eggs have undergone rigorous washing procedures.
With that being said, you can never be too careful. Better safe than sorry, go ahead and give your eggs another scrub for good measure.
Can I Leave My Fresh Eggs Unwashed?
The wonderful thing about fresh eggs, right from the coop, is that they haven’t been washed. That, and they are incredibly fresh, of course.
Why is an unwashed egg a good thing, you ask?
Well, before a hen lays an egg, it’s coated in what’s referred to as a “bloom.”
The bloom, or cuticle, is a thin coating that covers the entire egg protects the insides from bacteria. In essence, it seals the egg so developing chicks are protected from the elements.
A bloom also prevents excess moisture from leaving the egg, and this also speaks to one of the reasons the “egg float” test is an excellent way to tell the age of the egg. The more air in the egg, the older it is.
It stands to reason that it is this very bloom that protects the humans that consume the egg from getting sick on any bacteria that may have gotten into a washed (bloomless) egg.
Eggs that come from the grocery store do not have this bloom in place; thus, they must be refrigerated immediately and eaten much sooner than unwashed eggs.
Can I Leave My Fresh Eggs On the Counter?
If you were traumatized by a parent scolding you for eating the raw cookie dough, you are probably taken aback just at the thought of leaving an egg out of the refrigerator for any period of time.
But, its true, my fellow egg-lover. Fresh, unwashed, eggs can be left out for a few weeks before they need to be refrigerated.
Think of it this way, if a chick needs the bloom to protect it from bacteria for at least 21 days before it hatches, well, it’s safe to assume the bloom protects the contents for at least that long.
Eggs start to go downhill after about two weeks, meaning they just don’t taste as good as they did when they were fresh. So, it’s up to you how long you want to keep your eggs on the counter.
Either way, it’s important to always to wash your eggs before cracking them open. If there are any droppings or other bacteria on them, a proper washing will remove them and the bloom.
How To Wash Fresh Eggs
There’s a couple schools of thought when it comes to the best ways to wash your fresh eggs. So, let’s break them all down, and you can decide for yourself which method is best for you.
First, it’s crucial never to wash your eggs in cold water…ever.
When an egg is submerged in cold water, and the insides are warmer than the water, the pores are then open and pull bacteria in from the outside. So, now that the bloom is gone, the bacteria can easily pass into the portion of the egg you plan to consume.
Using Water to Clean Your Fresh Eggs
Most chicken lovers can’t stand how beautiful their hens’ eggs are. We marvel at them, take pictures of them, probably post them on instagram. But there’s nothing worse than an egg that got kicked around in droppings, dirty water, or plain ole pooped on.
In any of these situations, you just simply have to wash the egg. If you’d crack an egg open, and the contents came in contact with the outer shell, you could easily introduce bacteria to your food.
When your egg is full of poo, follow this method of cleaning it:
- In a bowl, add water that is warmer than the egg (not hot)
- Dip your egg into the water, and lightly wipe them clean
- Rinse the egg under running water
- Gently dry your egg
- Refrigerate or use immediately
This method does not use soaps or chemicals to clean the eggs; however, you can purchase egg-washing soaps online or from hatcheries. Some will also use vinegar to clean extremely dirty eggs, but sometimes it is best to pass on extremely soiled eggs, just to be safe.
Lastly, ALWAYS, inspect your eggs for small hairline cracks that may not have been visible prior to cleaning. If your eggs are cracked, toss them.
Look for dark lines and gently (gently) squeeze your egg to expose cracks that may have been invisible to the naked eye. In general, you should do this for all eggs before you cook them, not just visibly soiled eggs.
Cleaning Your Eggs Without Water
Dry cleaning eggs is not advisable, but some people do believe that it is the safest way to go if you are trying to prevent bacteria from entering your egg. If your eggs are extremely dirty, consider passing on them if you do not want to wash them in water.
The only time I might consider dry washing my eggs is if I will not be using them right away. I might try to remove some of the dirt from eggs. I plan to leave out for a bit before consuming. Even if I take that approach, I still wash the eggs prior to cooking them.
To clean your eggs without the use of water, use a sponge or towel to gently rub off all dirt and droppings from the egg. Never use the same cloth or sponge on other eggs, always discard it after use.
Whether you are storing your eggs in the refrigerator or on your egg skelter, try to store eggs with the skinny side down to prevent the already-present air pocket from being broken by the yolk as it ages. A broken air pocket is another invitation for bacteria to enter the egg.
Always store your eggs in a clean container, and clean the container between uses. Washed eggs should be eaten much sooner than unwashed eggs, so date your cartons and discard old eggs.