For those new to raising their own chickens or purchasing farm-fresh eggs, understanding the proper ways to store and prep an unpasteurized egg is important. The question is, is it actually safer to wash an egg straight from the coop?
Washing an egg gets rid of bacteria, right?
Actually, no. In fact, washing an egg actually raises the probability of bad bacteria entering the egg. A chicken egg has an outer protective area known as the “bloom” that protects the unborn chick. This casing serves as a shield against bacteria. When an egg is washed, especially in cold water, it causes the bloom to wash off and open the porous structure of the shell to be openly exposed to all forms of microbes. If you do wash an egg, it is highly recommended that you consume the yolk and whites soon after to avoid contamination. It is perfectly save to eat an unwashed egg because of the protection given by the bloom. However, if that unwashed egg has been stored in a refrigerator, we do recommend eating it within 2 hours of removal so that the sweat from the egg does not weaken the protective barrier.
How do I properly clean an egg?
If you have an aversion to eating unwashed eggs or are looking to sell eggs from your own coops, there are ways you can properly sanitize and store them. (Note: If you are in the business of selling eggs, please be sure to look at the food safety laws enacted by your state. Some states do not require eggs to be sanitized or pasteurized before selling them to consumers.)
Prevention methods: Keeping your nests clean and gathering your eggs daily is the first sanitary step. Everyone’s chickens are different, and you may be experiencing issues with them not leaving their nests. To fix this, you can set roosting areas above your nests. Chickens naturally tend to sleep in the highest accessible spots of their coops. If your issue is that your chickens are laying their eggs in random spots outside of their nests, you can try to train them by placing decoy eggs in the nests. Our recommended nest system is the Reverse Rollaway Yuneek Nestbox. This system safely rolls eggs away from the nests as they are laid to ensure cleanliness and easy gathering.
Washing with hot water: If you are going to wash your eggs with water, be sure it is roughly 20 degrees Farenheit above the temperature of the egg. Cold water makes the unprotected egg shell more susceptible to absorbing microbes, sort of like creating a vacuum. We don’t recommend using any solutions of soap or vinegar either due to the weakening of the bloom. Try to avoid soaking your eggs, and spot clean them with a damp cloth instead and drying them immediately after. Unwashed eggs can be left unrefrigerated for up to 3 weeks, but if you need them to last longer, or you have washed them, you will want to put them in the fridge within a closed container.
- Farm-fresh eggs do not have to be washed in order to be safe to eat
- Washing eggs with water removes the protective outer barrier of the shell.
- Washed and pasteurized eggs must always be refrigerated
- Fresh eggs can last up to 3 weeks at room temperature