Saturday, December 18, 2010

You Can Teach an Old Chick New Tricks: Cleaning and Storing Chicken Eggs

All but one of the young ladies are now laying. We have us here an egg bonanza which means that the task of figuring out safe cleaning and storage is at hand.

My first few eggs with little streaks of, we'll call it dirt, sent me to the sink to run cold water over them to make them look perfect...practice for the  possibly of someday selling them to the local natural food store. It didn't work too well, so off to the internet I went looking for the wisdom of the masses who have gone before. Ag universities, including UC Davis have weighed in with the "no water" technique. Because eggs by nature have a protective layer of protein, or "bloom" on the outside of the shell, water is actually not a good idea as it rinses this right down the drain leaving the egg susceptible to the harsh world beyond the shell. Since the shell itself is porous, it can actually drive bacteria into the egg thereby nicely defeating the original purpose. It also speeds up the loss of moisture from the egg, so really, it's a no no. The best method seems to be prevention: keeping nest boxes clean and collect eggs frequently. Most of the girls lay in the early hours of the day so two morning collections seems to do the trick. If the eggs do get dirty gently brushing the shell off in spots where it is soiled with a plastic kitchen scrubby works. I've read sand paper, or a plastic toothbrush, used solely for this purpose will take care of business also. Sand paper seems a bit harsh to me but with fine enough grit maybe I'm being too harshly myself.

So my foray into learning about egg care has learned me a few other interesting tidbits. You know those cute little plastic egg trays you find on the door of some refrigerators? Toss 'em!  I have it on good advice from U.C. Davis School of Agriculture that the temperature there is a little warmer than the rest of the refrigerator and the jarring of opening and closing the door can make the yolk break loose from the strands that hold it in place, scrambling your egg before you even crack it. And since egg shells are porous, they pick up the flavors floating around in your fridge if not kept in a closed egg container.

UC Davis on Egg Cleaning and Storage

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