With an egg crisis at hand, we thought this might be a good time to revisit properly preserving eggs…

Written by Chris Lesley

One of the most exciting things about raising your own chickens is collecting fresh eggs.

Once you have tasted fresh chicken eggs you will never want to go back to eating store bought eggs. From shell and yolk color to flavor and texture, fresh backyard eggs really do rule the roost!

However, because your freshly laid eggs are processed differently than commercial eggs, they also need to be stored differently.

Unfortunately lots of people skip important steps between collecting and eating their fresh eggs.

Keep reading to learn how to safely clean and correctly store your farm fresh eggs…

How To Store Fresh Backyard Eggs Properly

Backyard Chicken Eggs

Freshly laid eggs are good for up to 3 months starting from the day they have been laid.

However, the freshness of your eggs is only as good as your storage method.

Your freshly laid eggs are stored much differently than those you might buy at the grocery store. Eggs you buy from the store can be up to 8 weeks old when purchased and only remain fresh for around a month if they are refrigerated.

Fresh backyard eggs on the other hand are not typically put through a washing process like store bought eggs, so they still contain their natural protective coating.

These eggs can be kept on the countertop at room temperature for around 3 weeks given the weather is not exceptionally hot. After these three weeks the eggs should be placed in one of several various storage methods.

  • Fridge: Refrigerating your fresh eggs will give you an additional 3-4 weeks in terms of freshness. Although your eggs will keep for much longer than 4 weeks, you can expect them to dry out and lose their taste.
  • Cold Storage: Those who cannot access or do not have room to refrigerate their eggs can revert to cold storage. Cold storage consists of keeping your fresh eggs at a temperature of around 50°F. The area in which you store your eggs should be as dry as possible. This method allows for up to three months of storage.
  • Freezer: Do you want to keep your eggs fresh past 3 months? Try a freezer. Because eggs are more prone to cracking under frozen conditions, eggs cannot be frozen inside of their shell. You will need to either mix or separate your yolks from your whites before pouring them into ice trays. Eggs kept in the freezer can last for around one year.
  • Water Glassing: This is a cheap and often successful method of egg storage and preservation that is becoming increasingly popular with homesteaders. As long as your fresh eggs have an intact bloom and you have access to sodium silicate or calcium hydroxide, you will be pleasantly surprised with the storage life of your fresh eggs.
  • Pickling: One of the most popular methods of preserving fresh eggs is pickling. This easy method of preservation includes hard-boiling and then pickling using whatever recipe sounds best to you. It preserves eggs for up to 4 months but the pickled flavor may not be popular with everyone.
  • Dehydration: This is an especially useful form of storage if you have lots of eggs and not enough space. You can dehydrate your eggs to create a powder for the winter months when you won’t have as many fresh eggs.

Washed vs Unwashed Eggs: The Bloom Explained

Egg Anatomy

Fresh and store bought eggs have a different shelf life and need to be stored differently.

But why is this?

As a hen lays an egg she will deposit a natural coating around the outside of an egg’s shell. This is known as the egg bloom or cuticle and it acts as a protective layer for the porous shell.

The bloom acts as your fresh egg’s first line of defense against harmful bacteria and contamination. This protective coat is the hen’s way of protecting her chicks during the egg’s development. If it can keep a growing chick safe, you can be sure it will keep your unfertilized eggs safe for consumption.

When a fresh egg is cleaned, the bloom is washed away which leaves the egg more susceptible to contamination and spoilage. The bloom can often be felt as a waxy or wet coating. You can usually feel the bloom of your egg(s) coming off as a slimy residue when rinsed under warm water and soap.

Commercially sold eggs are required by the USDA to kill any existing pathogens, but, in the process, this also eliminates the shell’s bloom.

This is why commercial eggs need to be stored in the refrigerator.

Only eggs with their bloom in tact can be stored at room temperature.

So when you gather your fresh eggs, if you want to store them at room temperature then you should not wash these eggs.

You want to collect your eggs as early and often as possible.


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