Should I Refrigerate my Eggs?

Saturday, June 18, 2016


There’s just something about having fresh eggs on a kitchen counter that I love. It speaks to my inner farm girl. It shows me how productive my little farm is, and it reminds me to use eggs often (not that using eggs is a problem around here).

But, when friends and family visit they always ask me, “shouldn’t your eggs be in the fridge”?


The answer to that question is, yes. And, no.


For centuries eggs sat on a counter or table in the kitchen because there was no refrigeration. Just look at any period movie that portrays life in the 1700’s, 1800’s, even the early 1900’s, and I bet if you look closely at the kitchen scenes you’ll see eggs out in the open.

Today’s consumer is so afraid of food and how it can be stored that they think every little bit sitting out is a recipe for food poisoning.

Believe it or not there are several reasons I keep eggs on the counter. For one, when egg laying season hits full force, and I am overwhelmed with eggs, there just isn’t enough room in the fridge to store them all. Second, my favorite baking recipes call for room temperature eggs, and I like having them at the ready instead of delaying while eggs come to room temp. And, thirdly, eggs don’t have to be refrigerated to keep from spoiling.




You heard me right. Eggs DON’T need to be refrigerated, at least not in the short term. I’ll explain when they should in a bit.


 So—why don’t eggs have to be refrigerated, you ask?


One simple, yet little know reason.

Hens lay eggs surrounded with a thin, invisible, film called the cuticle or “bloom”. This cuticle film seals the egg, helping to prevent bacteria from entering tiny pores in the shell. The cuticle also helps to prevent the loss of moisture as eggs age. We already knew how wonderful chickens are, but how cool is that? Mother Nature has equipped our hens with a self-sealing mechanism that has enabled eggs to safely stay unrefridgerated for centuries.

BUT—and there’s usually a but, isn’t there? This does not apply to all eggs.

Commercially produced eggs must be washed before they are sold to the public to meet USDA requirements. Washing removes the thin film making eggs more susceptible to contamination. Without the protective cuticle film, eggs must be refrigerated or else they will spoil.

For the home egg producer, however, the question now becomes, to wash or not to wash?

Personally, I don’t wash my eggs and never have, until I am ready to use them. For decades, I have left duck, goose and chicken eggs on the counter to be easily used throughout the week. There is one exception though. If I get an extremely dirty or poopy egg it is washed right away and put in the fridge. Who wants THAT stuff hanging around your kitchen workspace? Also, if I get more eggs than I can use in a week or so they go into the fridge unwashed. Eggs can be stored out of the fridge for about a week and a half. If you don’t think you’ll be using them in that time pop um into the fridge.

So—how do I store eggs on the counter? That’s the fun part.

As I said before, I love having eggs on the counter, those subtle hues of green, blue, tan and almost pink make such an inviting picture. But, what I love even more are eggs in a pretty container. Sometimes I just leave them in my vintage wire collection basket, while other times they are neatly arranged in a colorful ceramic bowl or in a vintage egg crate. I love switching up my containers to create a new look.

For longer term storage, the fridge is still your best bet. But, for everyday use let your imagination run wild and create your own farm girl vignette. You’ll enjoy the view.

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