The big egg dilemma: to wash or not to wash inevitably comes up every week at the farmers market. To some, it is simply a matter of preference and esthetics. Eggs we buy at the grocery store have been cleaned, sanitized and pasteurized by a heating process that renders them “safe” to eat and “free” of known bacteria. This means that they must be rapidly heated and then held at a specific required temperature for a specified time. This process is said to destroy Salmonella, but it does not cook the eggs or affect their color, flavor, nutritional value, or use.* These guidelines are set forth by the USDA and local governing agencies to insure your protection. For most, this is the only way they have ever bought eggs, so it is customary and normal. Some will argue that with this “pasteurizing” process comes the removal of flavor. It stands to reason that this is why a farm fresh egg tastes so different.
FACT: The egg shell is a porous surface, and one of the chemical properties of that surface is known as the “bloom.” It is a micro membrane that encompasses the egg shell, thus protecting the potential baby chicken or duck inside from exposure to germs. It is said that if the egg is exposed to cool or cold water, a vacuum action occurs, potentially pulling in bacteria that may come in contact with the shell, but, if heated, the contents expand inside the shell, also exposing it to potential bacteria.
As for those of you who choose to not wash your eggs, or those who prefer to not buy eggs that have been washed, due to a raw egg component of your diet…farm fresh eggs are perfectly fine to sit out on your kitchen counter for up to a month. However, after a couple of weeks, it has been said that their quality may have noticeably diminished more. If you choose to store them for longer periods of time, or if you are buying previously washed eggs, it is recommend that they are stored in a cool environment or refrigerated.
FACT: The best way to keep eggs from getting dirty or soiled is to keep their nesting boxes clean. The other is to collect the eggs often, which will prevent a brooding hen from sitting or sleeping on the eggs.
The big egg dilemma: to wash or not to wash. So what is the right way?
At the farm, we prefer to wash our eggs. One of the reasons is that dirty eggs are not easy to sell at the farmers market. The other reason is that ducks do not lay their eggs in a nesting box, rather they lay them on the ground and then proceed to bury their eggs. When we expose the pile of eggs in their makeshift nest, there are usually 12-15 eggs waiting for me to gather. However, that means that 11-15 other ducks have walked around and over them. When we collect them each morning, more times than not, they are buried deep beneath layers of dust and sand. For those reasons, we carefully wash them in our commercial egg washing machine.