How long do fresh eggs last? Do they need to be washed or refrigerated? We’ve got the answers to the top questions about how to store farm fresh eggs!
If you’re just starting out raising laying hens, you probably have a lot of questions about what you need to do to care for the farm fresh eggs. Do you need to wash them? Do they need to be refrigerated? How long do they last?
When a chicken lays an egg, something truly magical happens. When an egg forms inside a hen, a thin coating is added to the egg shell, called the “bloom,” which protects the chick inside from contamination by bacteria on the outside.
Chickens do all their “business” from one opening, called the cloaca. Yep, that means that eggs come out of the same place as pee and poop. The bloom (also called the “cuticle”) is a biological way that mama hens protect their eggs from potential contamination during the egg’s journey out of their body body through the cloaca.
Chicken eggs are porous, and the bloom blocks these pores. As long as the bloom is intact, bacteria cannot pass through the pores to the inside of the egg shell.
Now that is a VERY simple description of the bloom, but it gives you an idea of how it works and why it is generally safe to keep fresh eggs at room temperature.
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How Long Do Fresh Eggs Last?
Fresh eggs that are unwashed and stored at room temperature can last for 3-5 weeks.
Fresh eggs that have been washed and refrigerated may last up to 2 months.
How to Tell if an Egg is Good or Bad
- The Float Test — Fill a bowl with water and place the egg inside. If the egg sinks and lays on its side, it is fine. If the egg floats, it is no longer safe to eat. That’s because air has penetrated the egg shell — and if air can get inside the egg, so can bacteria. If the eggs stays on the bottom of the bowl, but lifts upward a bit, it is not at its freshest, but probably still ok to consume.
- The Shake Test — Hold an egg next to your ear and shake. No sound? It’s all good. However, if you hear sloshing or any weird noises, the egg may no longer be good.
- The Smell Test — This one is easy. If the egg smells “off” at all…toss it or add to your compost pile. Not worth the risk!
Of course, none of these tests are completely foolproof, but they are a good starting point. If you have no idea when the egg was collected or have any doubts, it’s better to be safe and not eat the egg.
Do Fresh Eggs Need to be Refrigerated?
If your eggs haven’t been washed, then they still have their protective coating and don’t need to be refrigerated. As soon as you wash that coating, the eggs lose their protection and will need to be refrigerated.
Essentially, the decision to refrigerate farm fresh eggs is a matter of preference. Some people feel that refrigerating changes the taste. Others don’t want to take any chance of contamination. Because while farm fresh eggs are generally safe to store at room temperature, there is no 100% guarantee that something didn’t go wrong during the time between the hen laying the egg and you eating it.
I keep my eggs at room temperature and haven’t had any issues. However, that is just my personal experience and I can’t tell you whether your experience will be the same.
Another thing to keep in mind: if you pick up an egg that has just been laid and is still damp, then you may have disturbed the bloom before it had a chance to dry fully. In that case I’d recommend washing and refrigerating the egg.
Now when it comes to store bought eggs, I’d always refrigerate them. Commercial eggs in the United States are required by the USDA to be washed and refrigerated. Since they’ve been washed and processed, you’ll need to keep them in the fridge when you bring them home.
Should You Wash Fresh Eggs?
Yes, it’s always good idea to wash eggs before you consume. Even though the inside of the egg itself is protected by the bloom’s barrier, the outside may still have germs. However, we wait until we’re ready to cook our eggs before we wash them, so the protective bloom stays in place.
Now, if there is poop or anything yucky on the egg, I go ahead and wash them immediately. We either keep those particular eggs refrigerated or consume them that same day.
How to Store Fresh Eggs
If you’re refrigerating your eggs, a washable and reusable egg tray would work well. This is what we used for a while until I found the egg rack that we use now (see below).
If you’re keeping your eggs at room temperature, we LOVE this spiral egg skeltor (pictured below). You add new eggs to the top and take the eggs you want to cook from the bottom. You can spin the whole thing to see what you have and it holds about 2 dozen eggs in a small compact space! Plus it is gorgeous!
I just want to reiterate that while it is usually safe to keep unwashed fresh eggs at room temperature, this is not a 100% guarantee. Every person has to weigh the risks and benefits to doing so. And of course there is nothing wrong with refrigerating eggs should you choose to do so!
Learn More About Raising Chickens
- Guide to Raising Baby Chicks
- What is Pasty Butt in Baby Chicks?
- When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
- How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs
- Is Free Ranging Better for Chickens?
- How Cold is Too Cold for Chickens to be Outside?
- How to Make a Chicken Coop Predator-Proof
- How to Stop Chickens From Eating Their Own Eggs