Egg Keeping 101

If you’ve made it this far, i’m going to assume you have your chickens.  Congrats!  I hope you have chickens you can hug like we have.  Ha.  Now you’re faced with a real conundrum… what do you do with your eggs?  The chickens we have (Barred Rock and Speckled Sussex) aren’t mass producers, but even so, we don’t even keep up with the number of eggs they produce.  In high production months we get around 2-4 eggs total per day.  That’s a lot of egg eating.  We give a ton away on the regular to friends and family.

So now that you have this wonderfully fresh eggs, what are the rules with keeping them fresh?  This is the mother of all debates with chicken parents, so rather than tell you how you should store your eggs (not all in one basket of course) I’ll tell you what we do.

Buy A Sharpie Marker

When I go to close the coop up each night after dark, aside from making sure everyone is tucked in, I also grab our eggs from the day.  As soon as I bring them in the door, I write that day’s date on them with Sharpie.  You think you’re going to be able to go through them quick enough or easily keep track, but nay sir/madam, save yourself the trouble and write the date.

There’s poop on my egg!

Yes, your chickens often leave a little friendly reminder with your fresh eggs where those things popped out of.  Chickens have one exit hole.  I know… mind blown.  Also sometimes confusing to the chicken novice, if you don’t have a rooster, then a chick will not hatch out of your fresh eggs.  When I get confused looks I start explaining it in people terms of how babies aren’t conceived monthly and we generally end up on the same page.  As far as your skid marked egg or even your clean eggs, DO NOT WASH THEM!  You can gently wipe the soiled egg off when the “crap” is dry, but washing removes a very important protective coating that keeps your eggs fresh and bacteria free.  Washing your eggs reduces the shelf life from weeks to days.

You put them in the fridge right?

WRONG!  We actually store the eggs at room temperature in a basket on the counter.  Yes, they are all in one basket, but we aren’t frolicking through the fields on the way to market with them.   Worst case scenario is our jerk cats knock them around.  Or the time our AC died and the house temperature went into the low 90’s.  Those eggs had to go.  Your grocery store keeps them cold to cut down on bacteria, but those eggs also didn’t just pop out of your chicken’s ass.  They could be several days or weeks old by the time they arrive at the store and per the date, they are only good for a few days after purchase.  Plus, the eggs you purchased at the store have also been washed, so the coating the extends the shelf life is gone.  Stored at room temperature, our eggs last anywhere from one to three months.

That’s one bad egg

So now that you’ve got your basket of room temperature eggs that you’ve dated and haven’t washed, how do you know if it’s fresh still?  You could just crack them and add them to whatever you’re making, but that sets you up for failure.  What you do is called a “float check”.

Out of the nine eggs pictured above, eight are usable, one is on it’s way out.  If you’re ready to use your eggs drop them (carefully) into a pot or bowl of water.  If the egg is floating, it’s gone bad.  “Floaters” already have a negative connotation so just stick with that trend.  What’s happening is bacteria is doing it’s thing inside of that egg, which also creates heat and oxygen, that’s made your submersible a floater.  Toss it.  The egg on the far left isn’t floating, but it is standing on one end.   That means the break down has already started, but you’re still safe to use it.

Shell game

So what do we do with the shells?  Remember the Lion King and the “Circle of Life” song?  We toss the shells back into the compost bin.  They’ll either get broken down into the soil or the chickens will eat it as a substitute for grit.  We’ll also put a few eggshells in the garbage disposal every now and then because I’ve heard it’s good for the blades.

~ Lazy Guy

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Kristin Hoftyzer
Kristin Hoftyzer
4 years ago

We feed the shells right back to the chickens. They love em! Recycling at it’s best!

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