All of us, at some point, have imagined a French country kitchen. Complete with hushed colors, quaint decor, and a wire basket of eggs on the counter. But have you ever questioned why there is always a basket of eggs in these pictures? Today we are going to settle some confusion surrounding washed eggs. And we will tell you how to wash fresh chicken eggs and when. So let’s dive in!
Do You Have To Wash Chicken Eggs?
The most widespread myth about eggs is that you don’t have to wash them. The truth is that all eggs need cleaning before you crack them open. The eggshell is the perfect breeding ground for salmonella or E. coli. And once you crack egg shells, bacterial growth enters the egg.
But when that washing takes place is another story. You could wash your eggs immediately after collection and store them in the fridge. Or you could wait and only wash them before eating to keep them at room temperature.
Why Can You Leave Unwashed Eggs Out On The Counter?
The reason you can leave an unwashed egg out on the counter is due to the biology of the egg. When a hen lays an egg, she also covers it in a protective film as the first line of defense. This outer coating is called the bloom or cuticle. Since the eggs are porous, this bloom seals those openings to protect the inside of the egg from bacteria.
So unwashed eggs keep this cuticle for several weeks that protects them. But once you wash the egg, the cuticle is washed away as well. And that is why washed eggs always need to be kept in the fridge. It reduces the risk of contamination. The eggs need to be kept out of contamination zones and in the cold where bacteria can’t grow. You might be thinking that not washing your eggs is the best thing to do. But there is more to the story.
How To Wash Fresh Chicken Eggs
Whether you keep your eggs on the counter or refrigerated, you will have to wash them at some point. So it’s a good idea to learn how to clean them properly because you could taint your eggs if you aren’t careful. We believe that the best way to clean them is by wet washing. To get started, you will need:
- A sink with warm water access
- Drying towel or paper towel
- And a container to keep them.
The first thing you will need to do is get your water temperature just right. You don’t want hot water, or else you will cook your egg. And you don’t want cool water, or else your eggs will be at risk of bacteria. You will want warm water that is slightly warmer than the temperature of the eggs. Assuming that you kept your eggs at room temperature inside the house, the perfect water temperature is around 90 degrees.
Now that your running water is at the perfect temperature, it’s time to clean your dirty eggs. Quickly dip your soiled eggs into the running clean water and wipe them clean. It’s ok if you have to re-wet them again and scrub a little harder. Just remember not to break your eggs in the process.
Now that you have clean eggs, it’s time to give them a final rinse and dry them. You will want to dry them thoroughly with a towel. Remember that these eggs are porous, and if they are left wet, they will go bad quickly.
Next, you will want to examine all of your eggs for cracks and chips. If you spot any cracks in the shells, even small hairline cracks, it’s not safe for eating. These tiny cracks are all that’s needed for salmonella and E. coli to seep in and ruin the eggs.
You should discard any eggs with cracks. And you can put the rest in an egg carton with the pointy egg down to keep them hydrated longer.
And for the last step, pop them into the fridge, and you’re all done. You don’t need any special cleaners, soaps, or anything fancy. A quick rinse and your eggs are ready to eat. You could eat the raw egg and not worry about anything, though we wouldn’t recommend it. Who knew how to wash fresh chicken eggs was that simple?
Dry Egg Washing
Now, it’s worth a mention that some chicken owners swear by a method called dry washing. With this method, all you do is wiping the eggs with a clean, dry cloth, fine-grit sandpaper, or a loofa as soon as you collect them. But there is a lot of risks you take with this.
For one, if you keep using the same towel for all of the eggs, then you are smearing germs onto every egg. And in most cases, the eggs still have a considerable amount of chicken droppings on them. So when you go to eat them, they aren’t truly clean in the first place.
But there is one benefit of dry washing. If you use this method, you can store eggs on the counter or in a cupboard without refrigeration. We would only recommend this method of cleaning if you plan on handwashing before eating.
What If My Eggs Are Extremely Dirty?
If your eggs are caked in chicken poop and dirty bedding, you might be wondering what the solution is. If only a few eggs tend to get dirty, then you can try cleaning with water. But if that doesn’t help, using a natural cleanser, like Manna Pro-Farm Egg Cleanser, could help. Some chicken keepers even add a few tablespoons of vinegar to a water bottle to use as a cleaner. But remember that eggs are porous, and anything you use could seep into the egg.
However, if all of your eggs have feces on them, you have another problem on your hands. Too many dirty eggs mean you need to clean the chicken coop, or your hens are roosting in the nesting box. Always make sure to change the nesting materials and provide your backyard chickens with plenty of roosting bar space. If you fix these things, your eggs should be relatively clean.
Rules Not To Break When Washing Eggs
As you can imagine, there are a few things you should never do when cleaning your own chicken eggs. Here are a few rules to follow and live by:
- Never wash dirty eggs in cold water. The cold water creates a vacuum effect, and the egg will suck dirty and water through the pores. And as you can imagine, this means your eggs will become tainted.
- Don’t use bleach, dish soap, or heavy cleaners on your eggs. Any cleaners you use need to be organic and consumable in case they leach into the egg.
- Never soak eggs in water. The same vacuum effect will happen in standing water to pull hydration in from the surface of the egg.
What’s The Shelf Life Of An Egg?
So now that you know all about how to wash your eggs let’s talk about expiration dates. We mentioned that unwashed eggs last longer than washed ones, but how much longer is that?
Unwashed eggs on the counter can last for two weeks without spoiling. But if you keep dirty eggs in the fridge, they can last up to three months. That’s amazing, considering washed eggs spoil within hours on the counter and in two months in the refrigerator. So you tell us, what do you think is best?
Exceptions To Washing Rules
The USDA and FDA monitor commercial eggs when it comes to unwashed eggs. Any egg you buy from the grocery store in the United States is always thoroughly washed in a chemical sanitizer and bleached to zap any bacteria living on the eggshells. These chicken farms have a strict four-step cleaning process that most of us on small scales don’t need to worry ourselves with.
Currently, the USDA has deemed small farmers like ourselves a safer environment than commercial ones. Since your backyard flock lives in only the best and clean conditions, the risk of salmonella or E. coli is very slim. So you can choose any cleaning method you like to sell at your local farmer’s market. There is no need for chemical cleaners or any cleaning at all, for that matter. Just remember to be open and honest egg producers.
Washing Eggs In Other Countries
Remember that French Country kitchen we were talking about earlier? You might be wondering if it’s normal for eggs not to be refrigerated in other countries. And the truth is that in almost every other country, they do not wash their eggs. They see it as healthier, safer, and natural to keep the protective layer intact. So you will always see eggs on the counter in European countries.
Do You Have To Wash Incubation Eggs?
Absolutely NOT! If you are hatching eggs, this protective cuticle keeps your chicks safe throughout their incubation. If you wash the blooms off of your eggs, they will go bad and dehydrate before the chick can grow. So if you want to incubate a few fertilized eggs, it’s best to go from nest box to incubator without any other stops.
The More You Know…
How to wash fresh chicken eggs is the easy part. Figuring out if you want to wash straight away or keep unwashed eggs on the kitchen counter until use is harder.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!