One of the best things about keeping chickens is being able to enjoy fresh eggs. You can carry a fresh egg from the coop right to your breakfast, but if you have multiple chickens, you’re bound to have some left over eventually. So how long do backyard chicken eggs last? The answer depends on several different factors, including refrigeration and cleanliness.
Before you can consider how long your eggs will stay good outside the fridge, you’ll need to decide whether you want to wash them. Some people prefer to give them a quick clean, while others leave them alone until it’s time to cook. If you decide not to wash your eggs, make sure your chickens are laying on fresh straw.
The debate over cleaning eggs is important because it can impact how long fresh eggs can be left out. Eggs are laid with a thin membrane on the outside, which protects the porous shell from bacteria. When you wash your egg in water, you remove this layer, known as an egg bloom, which means there is one less layer of protection.
If you do need to clean your egg, you can dab it dry to preserve the bloom. With that layer intact, you can store the egg at room temperature. If you wash away the bloom, it is safest to put the eggs in a refrigerator.
Fresh eggs can stay unrefrigerated for a month or more if they have their bloom. The eggs you get when shopping in markets are usually at least that old.
If you keep your eggs in the fridge, they can last six months or more if stored in a sealed container. Over time, the eggs may get runnier, but they are still good to eat. You can always write the date the eggs were laid on the container to help you keep track.
If you really need to store eggs for longer, you can freeze them, but you will need to separate the whites and yolks and freeze each separately. Keep in mind that the texture and taste will not be the same after freezing, so you may want to use frozen yolks and whites in recipes instead.
When you buy eggs in a grocery store, there is a “best before” date printed on the carton, so you know when the eggs are fresh. If you are getting eggs from your own chickens, there is no handy date. You may forget when a certain egg was laid or find that you missed a few eggs if your hens have been laying in a secret spot.
If you find yourself unsure whether an egg is safe to eat or not, all you need is a jar of cold water to place the egg in. If it drops to the bottom and stays there, the egg is fresh. If it stands up on one end, it is not as fresh but still perfectly good to eat. Eggs that float to the top should be discarded — they have been around long enough for an air pocket to form inside.
Of course, part of getting the best possible eggs is feeding your layers the best diet. Products from Nature’s Best Organic Feeds are formulated with quality ingredients to help you get quality eggs. Find the closest store offering Nature’s Best Organic Feeds to pick up a bag for your flock, or contact us to find out more about our products.