How long do fresh eggs last? If you have hens that have just started laying or have bought some eggs directly from a farm, then it’s an important question. Thankfully the answer is a lot longer than many people expect.
Fresh eggs can last for three months, but that’s a very simple answer. There are many important things to consider but luckily, we have all the information right here! Join us as we see all there is to know about fresh eggs.
How Long Do Fresh Eggs Last
There are a wide range of factors that determine how long eggs last with the two biggest being where they are stored and if they are washed or not.
When refrigerated, an unwashed egg can stay fresh for at least three months. A washed egg may last for two months. In both instances, the freshness period may actually be longer than a couple of months, but it’s best to do a freshness test after this time.
An unwashed egg that is left out of the fridge will usually stay fresh for up to three weeks. Washed eggs have to be refrigerated so this is not an option for them. Read on as we explain all these points in more detail to give you all the info you need!
Should I Wash My Eggs?
Do you keep chickens, or are planning to? If so, you’ll be wondering if you should be washing their eggs. If your chickens are fully vaccinated against salmonella, then we’d say no. This will help to ensure their freshness and allow you to store them out of the fridge.
If you’re new to the egg world, then you probably have a few big questions right now! They’ll include whether is it safe to leave eggs out of the fridge? Why don’t I need to wash eggs? And why do I need to refrigerate store-bought eggs? Let’s answer them all right now.
If your eggs are unwashed, then it is perfectly safe to leave eggs out of the fridge. The reason is that eggs naturally have a protective layer over them called the bloom. This bloom helps to block out any bacteria and stop them from entering the eggs.
Someone from the USA may be surprised to go into a UK kitchen and see eggs just sitting on the side, including those bought from the store. The reason for this is that they are unwashed and therefore have that protective layer.
Dangers of Salmonella
So then, why are eggs washed at all? The reason is salmonella. This is a bacterium that can cause you to be ill with diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. It has a low mortality rate but around 450 die from salmonella each year in the USA.
Salmonella is rarely a problem for chickens but it can be passed to humans by the bacteria being on their eggs. In the USA, they wash the eggs to ensure that any salmonella that was sitting on the egg is washed away.
Your next question could well be: aren’t unwashed eggs dangerous? In the UK, no. The UK (along with many other countries) vaccinates their chickens from salmonella and therefore any eggs you get won’t be carrying the bacteria and therefore don’t need to be washed.
This takes us back to our advice at the top of this section. If your chickens are vaccinated against salmonella, then you don’t need to worry about washing your eggs. This not only makes your life easier, but it will also make handing your eggs safer.
If they haven’t been already, it’s best to get your chickens vaccinated. If you’re buying from an independent farm, they would most likely have vaccinated their chickens but it’s important to check.
However, we understand that you may not want to vaccinate your chickens, or you may have eggs ready to collect right now and plan to vaccinate in the future. If your chickens aren’t vaccinated (or you’re unsure) then we’d suggest washing them. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to eat your eggs with confidence.
Washing your eggs will mean they go bad more quickly, but not by much. They can still last a couple of months in the fridge with no issues at all. If you do decide to wash your eggs, then how do you do it?
The answer is very simple as all your need is lukewarm water and unscented mild soap. Gently rub the eggs with the solution and ensure they are completely clean. If there is any muck or poop stuck on the egg, then you can gently scrub it off.
Storing Fresh Eggs
Now you know that you have the option of storing your eggs outside of the fridge, which is the best option? Well, the answer is completely up to you but storing them in the fridge is always going to be the best option for long-term freshness.
And as we mentioned, if you have washed eggs then they’ll need to be stored in the fridge. They’ll no longer have that protective layer around them and therefore bacteria can grow inside the egg if it’s not kept cool.
Conversely, if you know that you’ll be eating your unwashed eggs within three weeks, then you can place them on the side with no problem. Many love having their eggs displayed in an egg box or egg holder, especially if your own chickens have grown the eggs.
Of course, storing them on your counter also means there will be more space in your fridge and you don’t need to worry about breaking them. If you have an egg drawer in your fridge, then you can repurpose it for something else.
Another great option is to do both! If you keep hens, then you have an abundance of eggs and too many to store in your fridge. If so, you can keep a few in the fridge for longer-term storage and eat the ones you keep on your countertop.
Whatever you do, it’s best to date your eggs if they are not store-bought. This will give you an easy indicator of when they were laid and how they were stored. To prevent any possible contamination with ink, it’s best to date your eggs with a pencil.
Not only will this give you an idea of when your eggs go out of date, but it also allows you to easily see which are the oldest eggs and therefore the ones you should eat next. Not dating them will make your life harder as you’ll need to test their freshness.
Freezing Your Eggs
We’ve talked about the counter and the fridge, but what about freezing your eggs? Well, it can be done. The important thing to note is that you can’t just place your eggs into the freezer as they are. The reason is that the inside of the egg will expand and crack the shell.
What you need to do is crack the egg and scramble the egg whites and yolk together. You can separate the egg and yolk, but this is much harder work. You can then place your scrambled egg into a suitable holder, such as a cake tin.
Once you do this, they can be stored for up to a year. Do they still taste good? Well, opinions vary. Some think they taste a lot different, but others think they are almost the same. While they won’t have quite the same freshness, this is a great way to avoid throwing out eggs.
Testing Egg Freshness
We’ve mentioned it a few times but how can you test whether or not an egg is still fresh? By far the easiest and most foolproof method is the float test. This will allow you to know whether the egg should be on your plate or in the garbage.
The float test is very simple as all you need to do is put your egg in water. It’s best to do it in a container that is quite wide so you can reach in and grab the egg. If you do it in a tall glass, then expect a lot of water spillage.
If you have a very fresh egg, then it will sink right to the bottom and lay on its side. If it does this, then you know that the egg is not even close to being off. You can eat it with confidence and it’ll no doubt taste great too.
For eggs that are slightly older, when you place them in the water, they will still sink but will stand up on their point. Here the eggs are still good to eat. While they won’t be quite as fresh, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
For eggs that have gone bad, when you place them in the water, they’ll float. There is a chance that this egg will be safe to eat, but it’s best not to take any chances. Throw it out and choose an egg that is a little fresher.
The reason this happens is because oxygen can diffuse into the egg and the membranes inside will start to shrink. As it does, it will leave a pocket of space. As this pocket fills with air, it will make the egg buoyant when placed in water.
There generally isn’t another test that is effective as this one. The other thing you can do is simply do a smell test, especially once you’ve cracked it open. Simply put, if it smells bad, it is bad, and shouldn’t be eaten.
1. Do farm fresh eggs need to be refrigerated?
An independent farm will most likely vaccinate their chickens and therefore your eggs will not need to be washed. If you do decide to wash the eggs yourself, then they’ll need to be refrigerated. Therefore the answer depends on what you do with the egg after you buy it.
2. Can fresh eggs last six months?
If you take a freshly laid egg and place it straight in the fridge, then it’s possible, but unlikely. Six months is the very upper limit on what’s possible. If it still passes the float test after this time, then the egg will still be good to eat but probably won’t taste fresh.
3. How long can I keep fresh eggs out of the fridge?
If they are unwashed, then you can keep fresh eggs out of the fridge for around three weeks. If you have washed eggs, then they shouldn’t be out of the fridge for longer than a few hours as they’ll have no protection from bacteria growth.
4. Why don’t supermarkets keep eggs in the fridge?
If you see anywhere that is not storing their eggs in a fridge, then it’ll be because they are unwashed. When unwashed, there is no need to worry about bacteria growth in the egg as its outer bloom layer will prevent it.
5. What is the best way to keep fresh eggs?
In the fridge. Whether washed or unwashed, your eggs are going to stay fresher for longer when refrigerated. That being said, if you always eat your eggs quickly and they never get close to going bad, you may as well leave them on your counter.
6. Can you eat eggs two months out of date?
It depends on how they were stored but there is a decent chance you can still eat out-of-date eggs if they were kept in the refrigerator. It’s best to do the float test and then smell the egg once it’s cracked. If it passes both tests, then you are good to go.
Many people are surprised at how long eggs last, thinking they would have a similar lifespan to that of milk. As we’ve seen here, under the right conditions, eggs can last for a very long time and still be fresh and taste great.
However, if you are buying them fresh or collecting eggs from your hens, you need to decide whether to wash them or not using our guidance above. While vaccinated chicken eggs don’t need to be washed, it’s best to wash them if you have any doubts.
Hopefully, by now you are confident about your eggs and how long they last. All you need to do now is crack them open and enjoy!