Raising your own backyard chickens can be very rewarding both emotionally and financially. One benefit of raising your own flock is that you know for sure what they are eating. This means that you know they are getting a nutritious balanced diet and that the eggs you will be eating are going to be nutritious, too.
When buying eggs from the supermarket you have no idea how those hens are treated, let alone what they are being fed. Well, that’s not necessarily true. You might have some inkling or somewhat of an idea, but it’s not anything good, and definitely not anything you’d feed your own chickens.
Most seasoned chicken owners may already be aware, but for those just starting out with raising chickens, did you know that it can take up to eight weeks before eggs at the grocery store even make it to the shelf? Yes, EIGHT WEEKS.
That’s a long time compared to picking one up from a nest when it was just laid eight HOURS ago. It’s also a big difference regarding the taste and nutrition. Why do you think there’s been a huge trend of “Farm to Table” lately? It’s because people are becoming more and more aware of the health benefits of eating fresh, which is something that you’ve probably known for a long time now.
So what happens if you have too many eggs? If you’re lucky enough to have a flock that lays consistently and daily, yay for you! You may encounter the issue of having to figure out how to store freshly laid eggs. Well, you’re in luck. We’re going to go through all of the information you will need to make sure to take the proper care of that surplus of eggs.
Cleaning The Freshly Laid Eggs
The first thing you will need to do, when you’re ready to store your eggs away for later, is to clean them. This cleaning does not and should not have to be extreme. Really there should be no need for water, and especially should not require using soap or other chemical agents. Most chicken raisers are used to the occasional spot of dirt or droppings, so if you can just deal with it, that’s the best.
If you would feel better about wiping away the grime, that’s fine, but one thing you will want to try to do it keep the bloom intact if possible. This is a natural barrier that surrounds the egg and helps to keep bacteria out. The best and easiest way to clean a fresh egg for storing is by giving it a light wipe with a dry paper towel or cleaning pad. Simply wipe the dirt and grime off and set it aside. Cleaning the eggs will not only allow you a good chance to inspect them for cracks, but it will also help to keep any bacteria from making it inside the egg.
If you do come across an especially dirty egg you may need to use a little water. A little warm water poured over the shell should do the trick. Make sure not to use cold water as that can cause shrinkage to occur inside the egg and can essentially pull in bacteria with it. Warm water will help the contents to slightly expand and help in pushing any bacteria out.
How To Store Freshly Laid Eggs
Once you have the eggs cleaned they are ready to be stored. There are three common methods of storing these eggs. We will discuss them in length here.
1. Leave Them Out On Your Counter
It doesn’t necessarily need to be on your counter, but somewhere in your kitchen at room temperature. Fresh eggs can be kept in the open for up to a month, just know that after about two weeks the nutritional value will start to decrease.
If you have a large family or really love omelets and eat a ton of eggs, this probably won’t be too big of a concern. We don’t recommend leaving any egg that required you to use water when cleaning it out on your counter. There’s too high of a chance for bacteria getting in it. Instead move on to option #2 for those.
2. Put Them In Your Fridge
Eggs can last up to five weeks in the fridge, at least that’s what the USDA recommends, but fresh ones may last up to five months longer than that, if stored correctly. If your main goal is to extend the shelf life of your eggs, the fridge is probably going to be the best way to go.
It’s important to note here that any washed eggs or any eggs that feature even a hint of a crack, should be consumed first. If you have to, mark them with the storing date by using a #9 lead pencil or a permanent marker, so you know when they were placed in the fridge.
If you decide to house your fresh eggs in the fridge, your best bet would be to store them in egg cartons or any airtight container. Egg cartons are designed to keep the moisture from getting into your eggs, and to keep the bacteria out, too. This approach is a good option for those that don’t eat too many eggs too often.
3. Use The Freezer Or Ice Chest
This method of storing freshly laid eggs is a lot more time-consuming than the two previously mentioned techniques. If you don’t plan to eat the eggs any time soon, like within a few months, you will need to freeze them to preserve the freshness, taste, and nutrition. Depending on what you plan to do with the eggs, there are a couple of freezing techniques to consider.
If you generally make desserts, like ice cream, angel food cake, pudding, or meringues, you will want to freeze the yolks and the egg whites separately. To do this correctly you will need to crack those babies open and separate the yolks and the whites into two different containers. Once all whites and yolks are in their respective containers, you should divvy them out into smaller containers for freezing.
You can freeze the eggs without separating the yolks and whites, but you will need to beat the eggs lightly to break the yolks up as egg yolks do not freeze well. This egg freezing technique is only really recommended if you generally use your eggs for scrambles, omelets, or the occasional frittata. We always recommend splitting the eggs into smaller containers before freezing, so you don’t have to defrost it all at once, especially if you plan to only use a little at a time.
Some people have reported good results with freezing lightly beaten eggs in an ice cube tray. Apparently it makes for easy defrosting since you can just place the tray in the fridge overnight. If you’re experimenting trying to find the best freezing method for your household you may want to give this a try.
Why can’t you just put the eggs straight into the freezer shell and all? Well, remember earlier when it was mentioned that cold water will make the contents shrink? Now, just imagine what freezing them will do. It will not only initially shrink the contents, but afterwards as it is freezing it will expand and then it may also result in cracked shells. That’s a huge invitation for germs and bacteria.
How To Tell If Your Fresh Eggs Are Still Fresh
One important part of storing fresh eggs is to make sure to check if they have gone bad. This is a very easy task and all you will need is a glass of water to do this. It’s called the float test. If an egg floats, then that means it is not safe to eat. This test has to do with the amount of gas that has built up inside the egg and is all very scientific.
While this isn’t 100% foolproof, it’s usually a good test to start with. Another test you can try involves shaking the eggs by your ear. If you hear any noise at all, that’s not a good sign. A fresh egg won’t even make a peep. These two tests don’t necessarily prove if your egg is bad or not, it mainly judges if it’s fresh or not.
So, after you’ve tried these first two methods to determine the freshness of your eggs, and before you decide to just ditch it, try cracking it into your hot frying pan. An old egg doesn’t necessarily equal a bad egg. If you’re ok with a watery white and an easily broken yolk, and there’s no foul odor detected, the egg is still likely alright to be eaten, even though it won’t taste anywhere as good as an egg that was just laid. However, if there’s even a hint of a bad sulfur smell, ditch that egg immediately.
Sometimes egg storage is a necessary and essential part of raising chickens. There is no doubt that storing your eggs properly is a surefire way to maintain the freshest and yummiest eggs possible without having to make a run to the nearest supermarket. Depending on your usage and purpose, it will be up to you which method works best for you. Maybe, if you have a huge surplus, you can try all of the methods mentioned above and see which works best for you.