When Eggs Go Bad . . .

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Photo by: Alessandra Hayden

Opening a bad egg is never pleasant. For my wife, opening a bad egg is usually followed by a trip to the bathroom and an avoidance of all eggs (or any food) until she doesn’t remember the incident anymore.

So how can you tell a bad egg from a good egg? For that matter, how long can eggs be safely stored (either in or out of the fridge)?

If you look at a good egg and a bad egg, from the outside they rarely look different. Inside is another story. There are a few ways that eggs start to rot:

  1. Once the egg has sat in one position so long that the yolk starts adhering to the inner membrane you are on the road to rotten eggs. This is why I always flip my eggs once a week to prevent the yolk from settling. If you do this, eggs last almost indefinitely.

  2. When the bloom of the egg is washed away, viruses and bacteria may enter and cause mischief. To prevent this, either don’t wash your eggs or wash them, dry them, and lightly coat them in something like sunflower seed oil to create a seal. About a century ago, they just rubbed the eggs in butter.

  3. Look for hairline cracks in your eggs. Feeding plenty of oyster shell to your hens helps to build stronger eggs, which will help prevent this problem. But if I get an egg with cracks in it, that egg goes straight to the dog that very day.

  4. The older an egg is, the larger the air pocket at the top between the inner membrane and the shell grows. This is why if you dump an egg in water, it will float when it gets too old to safely use. Eggs, safely stored, can last up to a year (yes really!) The best rule for this is to test any eggs you are unsure of by dunking them in water.

    1. Floaters immediately are thrown away (or saved until Halloween, shh!)

    2. Eggs that only have one end touching the bottom get used in baked goods because they’re still good but perhaps don’t taste as fresh.

    3. Eggs that are solid on the bottom are newer and perfectly safe to eat.

  5. When roosters mix freely with the hens, you sometimes run into situations where there are half-grown chicks inside the eggs and you just aren’t aware of it. Maybe it rolled away without you realizing it and you find it again, not knowing it wasn’t laid that morning. Things sometimes get mixed up. It happens. To prevent this, shine a flashlight through each egg before you store it to ensure that you aren’t stealing a little chicken baby.

In a future post, I’ll discuss more about what egg bloom is and why it’s important.

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