Yesterday I was on a site where I was answering some questions on information that I have some training on. I came across this one about eggs. Here’s what the subscriber wrote;
“I put an egg on the counter to come to room temp so that I could try making the mayo. However, it was a few hours later before I could get around to actually making the mayo. By a few hours, I mean 9 hours. 🙁 These are your average grocery store eggs… is that too long, should I toss the egg? Thanks!”
Here was one response
“I would not eat it. Just use another egg and let it sit for about 30 min.”
There were more people on the site telling her to chuck the egg. They also thought it wouldn’t be safe and that’s what they would do. That made me cringe a little. I’ve owned chickens, I’m a chef/pastry chef, and I use eggs at least every second day. Maybe that’s why I know a little more about them than this lady? I had to wonder how many others didn’t know these simple facts!
We have real, free range eggs delivered to the school every two weeks. Some of the students have started taking them home, which has raised a few questions about storage etc., I thought I write this blog on what I know. Maybe there are others that would like to know too.
What I know about eggs!
Let’s start with the carton.
Did you know that the carton that your eggs come in is special? It’s made that way for more reasons than giving them protection for transportation. Yes, the carton’s job is to protect the egg. But did you know they also help reduce water loss with in the egg and help reduce cross contamination of unwanted flavours from other foods that may be lurking in your fridge? That’s why we’ve seen the same type of carton being produced in the industry for ever. I know there were those foamy type cartons, and you can get large (30’s) trays in plastic, but they’re just not as good. Now you know, you’ll buy eggs in those old but favourite style cartons I’m sure.
What’s a fresh egg
Fresh eggs can be kept refrigerated in their carton for up to 6 weeks. That’s pretty much from the day they were laid. If you’re getting them from the supermarket, many of these eggs will have been in cold storage for up to 4 weeks before they even see the deli cabinet. Pop them in the fridge if you want them to last and use the “best before date” as a guide.
If you want to store them on the kitchen bench that’s ok, although you’ll have to use them much faster. Your kitchen also needs to be cool. I keep my eggs on the counter at the cooking school during winter. There’s no reason to pop them in the fridge when I purchase between 120 and 150 at a time. They’re just taking up valuable room in the refrigerator. I know they’ll be used up within a couple of weeks and even if it’s a bit longer, I’m not fussed because it’s freezing down there in the main reception area.
In summer I keep them in the fridge. Also, I get free range eggs delivered to the door that have been laid within the week. The students that have been taking them home, love them to.
The egg shell.
If you’ve purchased your eggs from the shop, they will probably have been washed or wiped with a damp cloth or brush of some sort. Some producers even use a mild solution of bleach. Because we don’t know which eggs have had this treatment, we have to treat them all the same.
I digress, here’s my point, the eggs come into the world with a protective natural coating on them, this is called a bloom. Isn’t nature grand? So if you’ve got chooks, that is great. Make sure your chicken’s boxes are clean all the time, and you don’t have to do a thing with the shell. If you have the occasional dirty egg wash it and use it first.
Eggs purchased from a farmers market may have been washed, who knows?. Eggs with their bloom still in tact will last much longer than a washed one. Once that coating is washed off you really should keep them in a cold place, I like the egg carton and the fridge in warmer weather.
People my age probably did this little science test in the home ec kitchen at high school. If you’re not sure if an egg is ok or not, ½ fill a large glass or bowl with cold water from the tap. Slowly lower your egg into it and if it floats throw it out. If it sinks to the bottom, then it’s fine. So here’s the science. As the egg ages the insides shrink because of loss of water (oh the egg carton), this creates an air pocket in the egg causing it to float. When the air pocket is big enough to make the egg float, it’s no good anymore. Ha, Isn’t nature grand, I said that, didn’t I.
If I pick up an egg from a tray and it has a crack in it, and there are signs of leakage, I chuck it. If it has a fine, hairline crack, I’ll do the glass test or chuck it. I don’t take any unwanted risks in my kitchen. You know the old saying, “if in doubt, chuck it out”.