Did you know that the USA is one of the only countries that refrigerate their eggs? We are the ONLY ones that refrigerate 100% of commercial egg sales. Most of the world does not refrigerate their eggs: they just sell them on ordinary shelves or at roadside stands out in the open. Australia was the only other country that may – or may not, depending on retail store – refrigerate some of their eggs. Why is that? The answer is fit for another blog post, but the information is already out there on the internet with an easy search. I’ll sum it up to two things: the “bloom” and salmonella. If the eggs are washed, it destroys the natural protective coating called the “bloom.” This in turn, leads to penetration of all kinds of bacteria into the egg, salmonella being chief. Also, in the UK, they vaccinate all their chickens against salmonella, virtually wiping out that disease in their country, and they don’t wash their eggs before selling.
The USA doesn’t vaccinate against salmonella, their commercial egg farms are disgraceful in their treatment of the chickens and conditions are deplorable. The eggs are thin-shelled and roll down into holding vats and transported to commercial sprayers and cleaners that power wash the eggs to clean them. This, in and of itself, is the main reason they have to be refrigerated. The bloom has been totally destroyed. Many factories then move their eggs to a pasteurization process to “sterilize” the egg before being packed and shipped to stores. By the time a carton of eggs reaches the store shelves they are a month old, having to be refrigerated throughout the entire process.
Do you get the picture yet? Have you noticed the different color of yolks from store-bought vs. farm fresh? Not only are commercially produced eggs lacking in nutrition, their natural, God-given form of preservation has been destroyed. Enough about commercially produced eggs. This post is about your own farm fresh, home grown, hand-collected eggs (or farm fresh that you bought from a small local farmer}.
If you don’t raise your own chickens and need to buy them from someone who does, the first question you should ask is, “Are these eggs washed?” I had to buy from fowl keepers before I had my own chickens, and would always request them unwashed. Clean, unwashed eggs is the founding premise upon which this entire blog post rides: if you DON’T have UNWASHED eggs, you need to refrigerate them. Period. End of story.
Now here’s the good stuff: CLEAN, UNWASHED FARM FRESH EGGS WILL LAST A MONTH ON THE SHELF, AS-IS! For those of us who raise our own chickens, we sometimes have eggs coming out our ears! We harvest so many of them that we can’t use them all up before they start going “off.” There are many ways to preserve them, some better than others, and again, the information is out there for you to do your own research. But I want to highlight my favorite and effective way of preserving eggs for long-term shelf life, and that is:
Food grade mineral oil (sometimes called therapeutic grade) is available in most pharmacies and/or pharmacy sections of grocery stores. It’s affordable, and little bit goes a long way!
Here’s how to apply to eggs:
Put food-handling gloves on both hands, and pour a small bit of mineral oil on the tips of fingers.
Rub the mineral oil between gloved hands to spread it around.
Pick up a clean, unwashed farm fresh egg and roll it around between your oiled, gloved hands to coat the egg thoroughly with a thin layer of mineral oil.
Place oiled egg back into egg carton, repeating with all of the eggs, until the whole carton is oiled. (You can coat several eggs with a single dab of mineral oil!) [EDIT: I now line my cartons with a rag or paper towel to collect any oil drippings. This works much better, and protects the cartons. I let them air dry on a counter or on the table for a couple days before closing them up.]
That’s it! This is the easiest way to preserve your eggs for long-term shelf life! Oiled eggs will be good at room temperature (not extreme temps, of course) for 8 to 9 months! So next time you buy eggs from a local farm, or harvest from your own hens, use mineral oil to preserve them! If you sell your eggs, your customers will be in awe at their beauty and long-term shelf life.