There are not too many greater pleasures in life than strolling down to the bottom of your garden, reaching into your nest box, and pulling out a freshly laid egg. If you time it just right the egg will still be warm!
You joyfully walk back inside and take the egg into your kitchen to prepare it for breakfast. But what do you do if you are intending to keep the egg and eat it later? Where should you store it and how long can you store it for?
Cleaning Freshly Laid Eggs
Before you eat or store you eggs the first thing you need to do once you’ve got them inside is to clean them.
Welcome to one of the most hotly contested debates with keeping chickens! The debate centres around should you clean the egg or not…
If you aren’t too worried about a little bit of dirt and are using the eggs yourself then (as long as the eggs aren’t filthy) you don’t need to worry about cleaning them up. However, if you are giving the eggs to a friend or family member (trust us, as soon as they try your fresh eggs they won’t stop asking for them!) then it doesn’t look that great giving them dirty eggs.
The best thing you can do to keep your eggs clean is to make sure your hens are laying in freshly laid straw. You don’t need to replace the straw every day, just make sure you pick out any large pieces of muck each day once you’ve collected your eggs.
Unfortunately, no matter how clean you keep their nesting box you will always get the occasionally mucky egg.
To clean the muck off try to wipe it off with a dry cleaning pad. If the egg is particularly mucky and this isn’t possible, run the eggs under warm water and use the cleaning pad to scrub the muck off.
Note: Try to use a dry cleaning pad wherever possible because when you run water over an egg you are removing its bloom. A bloom (cuticle) is the eggs natural external protection layer that protects it from bacteria.
How to Store Chicken Eggs
Once your eggs are clean they can be stored. You have two choices here- either leave the eggs out at room temperature or keep the eggs in your fridge.
There is one exception to this rule- if you need to clean your eggs with water then it’s safer to store them in the fridge straight away- this is because you’ve removed the egg’s bloom (more on this later).
Storing Fresh Eggs At Room Temperature
Freshly laid eggs can be left out at room temperature for at least a month before your need to start thinking about moving them into the fridge. We like to make sure we eat ours in under two weeks (because they tend to taste better) but so long as the egg is eaten within one month of it being laid you will be fine.
As a side note- eggs purchased in a supermarket are normally at least a month old before they even get to the shelves!
You can store the eggs in any dish- we keep ours in a basket filled with straw. However if you want to keep them ‘fresher’ make sure you pop them into an egg carton once you get them inside.
Storing eggs at room temperature is fine; however they will last much longer in the fridge…
Storing Fresh Eggs in the Fridge
If you want easy access to your eggs and to extend their shelf life the best of both worlds is to keep your eggs in the fridge.
When you put your eggs in the fridge you can either place them inside an egg carton or a sealed container. Eggs kept inside a sealed container (such as a lunchbox) will easily keep for up to six months and still taste fresh. The only thing you may notice is that the egg white is slightly runny.
If you are concerned about this sort of thing, then you can use a pencil and write the date the eggs was laid on the shell- this helps you keep track, if you only have a handful of chickens though this won’t be necessary.
Want to freeze your eggs to make them last longer? Read the ‘How to Store Eggs Long Term’ section below.
How to Store Eggs Long Term
If your girls are laying at full speed and you just can’t keep up eating the eggs (lucky you!) then you can freeze their eggs. Though, this isn’t as simple as picking the eggs up and placing them in the freezer unfortunately.
To freeze your eggs you need to separate the yolk from the egg white. The easiest way to do this is with a plastic bottle.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, then squeeze the empty plastic bottle whilst you hold it over the yolk. If you do this right the yolk should shoot up into the bottle (You will need to practice a few times, but once you get the knack of it you’re set).
In our experience though we wouldn’t recommend freezing eggs… they just don’t taste the same once they’ve defrosted.
Covering Your Eggs in a Magic Coating
If you’ve spent any amount of time searching for advice about how to store your fresh eggs no doubt you’ve come across coating your eggs in a homemade solution.
We’ve seen and tried lots of these coatings such as mineral oil, lime juice, Vaseline and sawdust.
In our experience none of these ‘magic’ remedy coatings improves the shelf life of the eggs and it’s more effort than its worth. In-fact when we used sawdust it actually reduced the shelf life of the egg!
How Long Do Chicken Eggs Last?
If you haven’t cleaned your eggs and their bloom is intact, they can be left out at room temperature for at least a month and they will still be fine to eat.
If you chose to place your eggs in the fridge (either because you cleaned them and removed their bloom, or just because you want to keep them cool) then they can last up to six months in the fridge- we wouldn’t leave them any longer.
Though we bet you won’t keep freshly laid eggs for six months- firstly, they are just too tasty! Secondly, if your friends and family find out you are storing eggs they will be sure to take them off your hands.
Proudly Displaying Your Eggs
The great divide between storing fresh eggs in the fridge or at room temperature appears to span across the Atlantic Ocean!
It’s very common for people in the UK to store their eggs at room temperature whereas in the US the majority of people keep their eggs in the fridge. The downside of storing your eggs in the fridge is that you can’t show them off.
As previously mentioned, we keep ours in a plain basket filled with straw; however some people really like to go the extra mile with their egg arrangements.
If you’re one of these people consider getting an egg Skelter (stand) to store your eggs on.
Not only do eggs look great on a Skelter, but it helps you keep track of which eggs are the freshest. Eggs are stored in a first in first out system, so it makes sure you are eating the oldest eggs first.
How to Check If an Egg Is Bad
Occasionally, you’ll want to check if your eggs have gone bad or not. For instance you may find your chickens find ‘alternative’ places to lay their eggs- I guess your nesting box just isn’t up to their standards!
If you do find a pile of eggs in a ‘secret’ nest then there is a very simple trick to find out if they have gone bad or not.
Get the eggs and place them into a bowl of water. If the eggs float then its bad luck because they are bad. Any eggs which drop to the bottom of the bowl are good and safe to eat.
If you don’t have access to a bowl of water or are looking for a quicker alternative, then you can listen to the egg. Pick the egg up and place it next to your ear then give it a gentle shake. If you can hear the egg slopping around inside the shell then it’s bad and you need to discard it.