Is it OK to NOT Refrigerate Your Eggs?
I keep my eggs on our countertop. Why do I do this, you may ask? Well, they are pretty, they peel easier after boiling, and I just don't have a ton of room in our refrigerator---especially in the summer and fall when the chickens are laying like crazy and veggies are ripening and need to be stored until I can do something with them! But is this really an ok thing to do? Well....Yes. And also...No.
In Europe, it is becoming fairly well-known that eggs are not refrigerated. You can walk into a grocery store and find cartons of eggs at room temperature. This is because European egg farmers do not wash their eggs. They don't have to, mainly because the rules in Europe about raising and growing food are different than in America.
See, chickens (birds in general) are amazing creatures! They actually coat the eggs with a clear substance (yes, like a clear coat) that protects the egg from bacterial invaders, air, etc. This is why eggs can sit outside for days without harm to the embryo.
So why do Americans refrigerate eggs? It's because of our industrialized factory farm food system. Big Ag cares only about the bottom line. Far too many chickens are packed into tiny spaces. Often their beaks are cruelly and painfully cut so they don't peck each other. They are under a great deal of stress, and this lowers their immune systems. At any rate, it's just a ripe place for salmonella and other bacteria to grow. Therefore, American factory farmers must wash the eggs and mist them with a substance containing chlorine to kill any bacterial strains, including salmonella. After this, they must be refrigerated until used, or they will go bad very quickly.
However, if you have your own chickens, it is fine to keep your eggs on the counter as long as you don't wash them. Once you wash them off, they absolutely need to go into the refrigerator. Eggs have tiny little pores that allow bacteria to enter once that coating is washed off. Since backyard chickens generally don't carry salmonella, the bacterial worry is greatly lessened.
How Can You Tell if an Egg Has Gone Bad?
Although I choose to keep my eggs on the counter, especially when we have a plethora of eggs, you do need to be aware that they can still go bad. The amount of time it takes most likely depends on a number of factors, including room temperature. I've never actually had an egg go bad on the counter, so I can't tell you how long it generally takes.
If I have to tell if an egg is on the old side, I just use the good old "float" test! A fresh egg (that has not been washed or purchased from the store) will sit on the bottom of a pan full of water. A slightly older, but still good egg will begin to tip upwards, or even hang in the middle of the water. Finally, an egg that is on the old side will float. IF it does float, that doesn't necessarily mean it is bad, but why take the chance?
The reason this test works is that there is a membrane inside the egg, and as it gets older, it will begin to pull away from the shell, causing an air pocket to form. That's what causes the "float." Personally, I believe that because store-bought eggs are washed and treated, this test is most probably invalid. I have heard that fresh eggs bought from the store may float too. But then...how do you REALLY know how fresh they are? Hmmm?
**You can also just use your nose. You will KNOW if an egg has gone bad.
A Quick Recap:
1. It IS ok to store fresh eggs directly from the chicken on the counter. Just do NOT wash.
2. Once you refrigerate your eggs, you should keep them refrigerated.
3. After you wash your fresh eggs, you definitely should refrigerate them since the natural coating has been removed.
4. You can tell if an egg has gone bad with the "float" test (although personally, I don't really trust this test) or your good ol' nose.
5. Eggs from an American market should ALWAYS be refrigerated.
6. If in doubt, throw it out.
This next part is slightly off-topic, and one of my favorite rants. But it is related to the egg information, since we in America must do extreme things to our foods in order to be able to consume them. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet we are among the most undernourished, unhealthy, and obese. The documentary, "Food, Inc." is informative and interesting. Knowledge is power, as they say! The link below is an affiliate link. I placed it here in this post because I feel it is extremely relevant and important for Americans to begin to educate themselves on how our food system works in order to make better health choices for ourselves and families. If you do happen to make a purchase by clicking through, it will cost you nothing, and you will be helping me keep blogging!
***Please tell me what your experiences are with refrigerating eggs or not? Also, feel free to email me if you don't want to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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Another great food documentary is called "Frankensteer." I highly recommend it! It will change the way you think about beef!
This post contains affiliate links, and if you click through and make any kind of purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support of my blogging! :-)
This post was included in the Floyd Family Homestead Blog Hop #20