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Do farm fresh eggs actually need to be refrigerated? Here's our tips on storage.

written by

Michelle Sroka

posted on

December 13, 2022

Do you store your eggs on the counter or in your refrigerator?

Unless you grew up on a farm or have traveled extensively, you might not have known there's even an option. But there is! 

When a hen lays an egg, she leaves behind a "bloom": a protective layer covering the shell, that prevents any bacteria from getting inside the egg. This keeps the egg fresh for up to 30 days at room temperature - as long as it's not washed, you can leave it on your counter.

How do you know when these 30 days start? It's on the carton! The date on our carton marks the day that an egg was laid. From this date, eggs are fresh for 30 days at room temperature - and up to 90 days in the refrigerator.

But if farm-fresh eggs are safe to eat at room temperature, why do we always see refrigerated eggs?

The United States is one of the few countries that requires the washing and refrigeration of eggs in stores. Store bought-eggs are washed with water and sprayed with a commercial sanitizer. Although this can help protect against salmonella, it also creates further bacterial risk by removing the bloom. Hence the need for refrigeration, to keep the accumulation of bacteria at bay.

Why do we have these regulations? Think about the conditions that most store-bought eggs are laid in: in cramped barns, with a large accumulation of manure, and little to no space for the hen to move about. Bacterial infection is a serious concern if you're raising hens this way.

But for small family farms like ours, that raise our hens on pasture, we don't need to follow these regulations. Instead, we can create conditions that promote the health of both the hens and their eggs, and therefore make it possible to leave the bloom intact.

On our farm, we have "roll-away" nest boxes: laying boxes that are sloped, so that the egg rolls away from the hen after she lays it. This prevents eggs from getting dirty or covered in manure. Although, since we move our hens to fresh pasture three times a week, the conditions are pretty clean to begin with.

We also operate on a small scale, so that we can collect and package our eggs by hand. For most eggs, we simply take them out of the basket and into your egg carton. It's about as close to "farm fresh" as you can get.

And if there is a spot that needs to be cleaned? We'll gently spot treat it. No chemicals, no washing, just a little elbow grease to remove the spot and preserve the bloom.

Because we raise our hens this way, it creates the ideal conditions for keeping eggs at room temperature. If you want to try this, most farm fresh eggs will last up to 30 days on the counter.

But if you want to keep refrigerating your eggs, that's fine too! In fact, even when the bloom remains intact, refrigeration can be helpful for extending the shelf life of eggs. Refrigerated, farm-fresh eggs with the bloom can stay fresh for up to three months. If you travel frequently, or just don't eat eggs often, this is probably a good option for you.

How do you store your eggs now? And has reading this changed your mind? Comment below to share your thoughts.

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