What counts as a fresh egg?
If you normally buy your eggs from the store then you should know that those fresh eggs can actually be up to two months old. Whereas if you have your own flock then you already know you have the freshest eggs around!
Most eggs will last up to three months from the day they have been laid.
However, just how long your fresh eggs last will depend on how they are stored and if they have been washed.
In this article we will explain how long you can keep eggs fresh, how to tell if your eggs are fresh or not, and also share some methods of extending their shelf life.
Contents and Quick Navigation
- How Long Do Eggs Stay Fresh After Laying?
- 7 Best Ways To Store Chicken Eggs
- Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Eggs Stay Fresh After Laying?
You can expect your eggs to stay fresh for up to three months after they have been laid.
If you are buying store eggs then you can expect them to stay fresh for around a month. Remember that storebought fresh eggs can be up to eight weeks old before you buy them. So in total they will last for around three months, but two of those months can be spent on the shelf at the store.
There is no good way to tell how old those eggs on the supermarket shelf are unless you can crack the carton code.
What is that you ask.
Well, every carton of eggs has to contain three pieces of information on the box: the packing plant number, the packing date and the sell by date. The box can have other information on it, but these three are the most important.
The packing date is given as a number, for example 029. This number indicates that the eggs were packed on January 29th. The packing date is actually based on the Julian calendar, so Day 001 is January 1st and December 31st would be Day 365.
How Long Can Eggs Sit Out On The Counter?
This answer will depend on where you live.
In the US fresh eggs should be kept refrigerated once bought. This is because they have been washed and no longer have the natural protective bloom on them.
If you keep your own chickens and do not wash the eggs then you can store them on the counter. In the UK it is normal for them to leave eggs on the countertop for around three weeks providing the weather is not overly hot. Remember that these fresh eggs have not had the bloom removed so they have natural protection against bacteria.
After three weeks they should be refrigerated to prevent spoilage.
Of course there are plenty of homes around the world that do not have the means to refrigerate eggs. A cool, dry, dark storage place, will do a great job of keeping those eggs fresh for a long time.
How Long Do Eggs Last In The Fridge?
Refrigerated eggs can last quite a long time.
Storing fresh eggs in the fridge will give you about 3-4 extra weeks of freshness.
Over time the eggs will slowly lose their taste and will dry out if you leave them long enough.
Bear in mind that your store bought eggs may be up to eight weeks old when you get them. So, in total, you can expect your eggs to remain fresh for about two months.
7 Best Ways To Store Chicken Eggs
If you have lots of eggs and want to store them for later, you are probably wondering which are the best preservation methods?
There are several methods out there and some are better than others.
Below is a selection of the seven easiest methods to store your fresh eggs.
Putting your eggs in the fridge pretty much guarantees fresh eggs for three weeks or so. They will keep for a much longer time but they will lose some of the flavor.
If you want to keep your fresh eggs for longer than six weeks or so, you should consider another method.
2. Cold Storage
For those who do not have a refrigerator, cold storage is the usual option. Keeping eggs at a temperature of 50°F will ensure they stay fresh.
The cold area should be dry and easily accessible. Places such as a spare bedroom or a cellar are ideal. If properly stored they can keep up to three months.
Freezing fresh eggs is an excellent way to keep them for an extended period of time.
The eggs cannot be frozen in their shell. They have to be either mixed together or you can separate the yolks from the whites, whichever you prefer. For double yolk eggs you should separate the yolk. You can then pour the egg into ice cube trays and place them in the freezer.
Frozen eggs will last for around one year in this manner.
Pickled eggs are one of the most popular options.
There are numerous recipes.
Simply hard boil the eggs then pickle in the recipe of your choice. They will last up to four months in the refrigerator once opened. Pullet or bantam eggs are perfect for this.
It is possible to dehydrate eggs and make a powder from them.
When you have too many eggs this is a great time to use some of the eggs to prepare for the winter months when you won’t have that many fresh eggs.
You can use a dehydrator or your oven.
Mix the eggs and cook them as you would scrambled eggs – do not add anything to these eggs except the oil for the skillet. Once they are cooked you need to let them cool, break into pieces and grind into a powder using a food processor.
It is a bit time consuming, but dehydrated eggs are perfect for camping trips and even baking.
6. Water Glass
Water glassing is coming back into favor with many homesteaders.
This method is cheap and successful (if done right).
There are two different solutions that can be used: sodium silicate or calcium hydroxide. Either solution will preserve your eggs for up to a year.
You need to use clean, fresh eggs with the bloom still intact.
7. Mineral Oil
The final method we will discuss is mineral oil.
To start with you will need to warm the oil a little.
Once the oil is warm you should coat each egg in the oil. Make sure the fresh egg is entirely covered in a thin layer of oil and then place the eggs back into a carton, pointed end downward and you are done.
The eggs should be kept in a cool and darkened place.
In this manner, they can keep up to a year.
Of course there are many other methods of preservation.
Other methods include charcoal coating, wood ash and alcohol. These methods have not been included here because they are time consuming and some are definitely an acquired taste!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to clean fresh eggs before storing them?
In the US if you are buying from a store then the packaged eggs are already washed so they do not need cleaning again.
However if you have your own flock then the short answer is: it is up to you.
Generally if the eggs are visibly clean then they can be stored without cleaning. However, if they are mucky then they need to be cleaned.
You should be aware if you are selling your eggs then you should be washing them prior to sale. This is a safeguard for you and your customers as salmonella contamination can be deadly. Salmonella poisoning is a fairly frequent occurrence in the US. The main culprit is the egg industry, but there is a rising incidence of salmonella from backyard flocks which is disturbing.
Do eggs need to be refrigerated?
In the US – yes.
Why is that?
The egg industry here power washes the eggs before packaging them. They do this to try and eliminate any contamination such as salmonella from the eggshell. When you wash an egg you are removing the protective bloom from the egg. Because of this it is easier for bacteria to penetrate into the egg contents. The power washing leaves the egg unprotected from further contamination so they need to be kept in the fridge.
In other countries where they vaccinate their poultry against salmonella, the risk of contamination is much lower so the eggs do not need to be washed. As a result the bloom stays intact and the risk is much smaller, so eggs can be kept outside the fridge too.
How can I tell if my eggs are fresh?
To test if an egg is fresh you can use the float test. You place the egg in about six inches of water and if the egg floats it is bad. Whereas if the egg sinks it is fresh.
Read our Egg Float Test: Fact Or Fiction article.
Can I keep dirty eggs?
If the egg is very badly contaminated on the outside then it is probably best just to toss out the egg.
Eggs that are only mildly soiled can be wiped clean and eaten shortly after.
If you are reading this then it is likely that you have chickens and your definition of fresh is today and maybe yesterdays eggs.
However by industry standards “fresh” can mean up to two months old.
There is nothing to beat that fresh taste and look of a free-range egg.
With the methods we have given you here you should be able to preserve some of the summer fresh egg harvest and sail through winter eating only the eggs your hens have laid.
If you do not already have chickens then what are you waiting for? Chickens provide you with far more than just fresh eggs, they are extended family!
Let us know how you keep your eggs fresh in the comments section below…