My grandmother taught me how to collect eggs when I was a little girl: Wait until then hens are off their nests, then gather the eggs quickly before they notice. Collected eggs were kept in a large ceramic bowl in a shady spot on the kitchen counter. My Aunt Judy also kept her eggs on the kitchen counter, although her eggs came from the morning farmers market rather than from her own birds.
As for my mother? She kept her supermarket eggs in the oval hollows of her refrigerator door—and I knew better than to tell her she was storing them incorrectly.
These days, most backyard flock-owners and chicken-keepers know eggs can be safely kept at room temperature (as is commonly done throughout the world) as well as in the refrigerator (the preferred way of storing eggs in U.S.). If both methods are safe, are there wrong ways to store eggs?
There are. Read on for a list of right as well as wrong ways.
This applies regardless of whether you keep them in your refrigerator or on your kitchen counter. The carton protects the eggs from accidental breakage and prevents strong odors from being absorbed. The carton of eggs, if it was bought at a store, also lists the “use by” date.
The air sac, located in an egg’s rounded end, gradually increases in size as an egg ages and loses its moisture content. If an egg is stored point side up, the air sac has less room for expansion and is forced downward. This pushes the egg yolk out of its centered position and closer to the shell, where it can pick up contaminants entering through the shell’s pores. This added pressure can also cause the yolk to rupture, drastically reducing the quality of the egg.
As they are laid, eggs receive a protective coating—the bloom—which effectively seals the egg’s pores. The bloom is nature’s way of protecting a growing chick from harmful bacteria; it also keeps an eating egg fresher longer. Once the bloom is washed off, an egg’s shelf life drastically shortens.
This is where the temperature remains most consistent. This applies to store-bought as well as farm-fresh eggs.
This is true especially if an egg is leaking. A crack in the shell invites bacteria to flood the interior of an egg, causing it to spoil faster.
This shortens the lifespan of an egg, as the temperature continually changes with the opening and closing of the door. Eggs last longest when stored at a consistent temperature.
Storing your eggs uncovered exposes their porous surface to the many different odors in your fridge. These strong smells get absorbed into the eggs, changing their flavor.
Prolonged exposure to temperatures hotter than 75 degrees F can significantly deteriorate the freshness and quality of an egg. If you’ve accidentally left your eggs in the trunk of your car for a few days, it’s best to just toss that dozen away.
How do we store our eggs? We keep our freshly collected eggs in flats and in coated-wire baskets until they are ready to be packed for sale … unless, of course, my mother is coming to visit. On those occasions, we wash our eggs and store them in cartons in the refrigerator—but not in the fridge door.