Cleaning and Storing Eggs

eggs laid by the girls at Cobble Hill Farm
 Typically, the average hen lays an egg every 25 hours in their prime egg-laying years.  After a year or two of keeping up such a high production, their average drops to a few eggs a week.

Eggs are laid with a protective covering called a bloom.  When you wash an egg you are also removing this coating.  Eggs are very porous making washing with the right temperature essential or you risk pushing bacteria from any manure into the eggshell.  Washing also reduces their shelf life from 3 months {average shelf-life if stored in a 40-45 degree refrigerator} to about a month {stored in the same manner}.  Without the bloom the eggs begin to dry out at a quicker rate.

We try to maintain a nice amount of hay in girls' nesting boxes.  For the most part, this prevents the egg from cracking as it's laid as well as helps keep the eggs clean.  There are times, however, that even though the bedding is full the eggs have dirt, yolk from a broken egg, or manure on them.  Here's what we do.

If the egg has straw stuck to it {which happens because the egg is still slightly moist when it is laid}, we brush off what we can, store the egg in the refrigerator, and wash the egg right before use.  If the egg has dirt or manure on it and we are keeping the eggs, we try to dry brush off as much as we can, store the egg in the refrigerator, and wash right before use.  If the egg has dirt or manure on it and we are giving it away, we wash the egg and let the person know the eggs are good up to 1 month.  People get a little squeamish about manure on their eggs.

If you must wash the fresh eggs, use a temperature that's about 20 degrees warmer than the egg itself.  This helps prevent the egg from cracking as well as the bacteria from entering through the porous shell.

A jumbo egg from one of the girls
Store bought eggs are washed and then coated with a mineral oil to add a protective coating back to the shell.  You can do the same by dipping a freshly washed egg {best if the egg is 24 hours or less old} in white mineral oil but it's typically not necessary unless you're trying to preserve them longer than 1 month for washed eggs or 3 months for unwashed eggs.

Did you know you can freeze eggs?  The egg must be broken and either 1 teaspoon of salt or 1 Tablespoon of sugar mixed in {choice depends on if they'll be used for sweet or savory dishes}.

You can also separate your eggs and store egg whites and/or egg yolks.  The egg whites can be stored in a freezer safe container without anything added.  The egg yolks must be again mixed with either salt or sugar.  For every 1 cup of egg yolks mix in either 1 teaspoon of salt or 1 Tablespoon of sugar.  The salt and sugar prevent the egg from getting gummy.

Thaw the egg, egg yolk and/or egg white completely prior to use.

The center brown egg is an XL egg.....look at how large the far right brown egg is!!

What if you have eggs that have been in your refrigerator and you aren't sure how long they've been in there or if they are any good?  You can do a quick water glass test.

Place the egg in question in a glass of water.  If it lies on it's side at the bottom of the glass, it's fresh {there is little to no air cell}.  If it touches the bottom of the glass but one end begins pointing upward, it's still good but needs to be used.  If it floats it should be discarded.

One of the most common questions we are asked regarding our eggs is how to make hard-boiled eggs without losing the majority of the egg when peeling it.  Because fresh eggs have little to no air cell in the egg, there is no space between the egg and the shell.  As the egg ages, a small air cell will develop. 

There are tons of ways others have suggested for boiling fresh eggs, but the one way I've used since raising chickens that seems to work about 94% of the time is to leave the eggs in the refrigerator while bringing the water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, remove the eggs from the refrigerator and, with a slotted spoon, lower them into the boiling water.  Proceed with your hard-boil recipe {I boil mine for 5 minutes then remove from heat, cover, and let sit another 10 -12 minutes}.

Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:
Why Do My Chickens Lay Thin or Soft-Shelled Eggs?
When Will My Chickens Start Laying?
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons We Learned Building Our Coop
The Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill Farm
All You Need To Know About Chicken Roosts
All You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes


  1. Thanks for all the tips. So excited about getting my coop and 4-5 ladies ready for egg laying. Shouldn't be long now.

  2. Thanks so much Judy! How very exciting to be looking forward to eggs. :)

  3. Staci, I've really enjoyed reading your blog off and on today. We have sooo much in common. I love that you have actually made the leap to

    You need to come over and see the eggs that our barred rock - Roxanne lays - they are huge! Is that what bread layed your gianta egg?

  4. Thank you for this great blog. I'm having my coop and run built now to get ready for 16 hens. I just paid for 8 different breeds in pairs, and I will receive the chicks in February. I'm so excited and want to let you know how much you have helped me in my decision to raise chickens. I'm sure I will have many questions in my efforts to be a good caretaker of my birds. Thank you!!

  5. Thanks so much Van!! How very exciting to have your chicks picked out and coming soon. I suspect you will become addicted as we did. :) They are a lot of fun - and bring on the questions!!


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