Chicken Keeping: Cleaning and Storing Your Farm Fresh Eggs

How To Clean And Store Farm Fresh Eggs

You have backyard hens, they've FINALLY started laying, but now what?

Let's go back to the start.  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 the 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.  

We've found that 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.

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. 

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 there is one way I've used since raising chickens that seems to work well for us.  You can find it here.

Now you're ready for the egg production to swing into full gear!

Additional posts that may be of interest:
Why Do My Chickens Lay Thin or Soft-Shelled Eggs?
Wait....You Don't Need A Rooster?
When Will My Chickens Start Laying?  And Other Egg Laying Questions
Preventing Chickens From Eating/Pecking Eggs


  1. Question for you...we get our eggs directly from the farmer. I don't like to refrigerate them the first week. They look pretty clean, so I'm assuming they are washed before I get them. Is there any harm in not refrigerating them that first week and using them fresh for morning eggs?

    I'll be pinning this one!

    The link took me back to this same post???

  2. WONDERFUL info! Thank you so very much and LOVE your blog that I just found today! xox

  3. WOW! We had chickens awhile back and I wish I would have known all this!! Got some great new info!! Didn't know about the water temp, didn't know about freezing with sugar or salt, very helpful. Definitely bookmarking this one!!


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