Egg Storage - keep 'em cool
You'll not need to be concerned about egg storage unless your egg production exceeds your consumption. Ideally, production and usage should be about the same, but then when are things ever ideal?
Some of the factors that might create an interest in storing up some eggs include variations in production based on temperature and light, loss of production due to a broody hen or two, loss of birds through disease and predation, and special occasions when you need to have more eggs on hand.
In any event, since the shelf life of eggs is rather impressive, you can store eggs for quite a while and therefore compensate for temporary high usage or a dip in production.
Let's look at the basics of egg storage.
Eggs that are intended for storage should be fresh and clean. That is achieved simply by harvesting on the same day it's laid, and making certain that you clean them promptly. If an egg is other than fresh and clean, it should be slated for near term consumption.
Here is a quick guide to cleaning eggs, and you'll find egg harvesting advice here in this article about chicken eggs.
Once you have fresh and clean eggs to store, you'll need to package them up.
Eggs of course should be packaged in egg cartons. Having your eggs stored like this provides several benefits:
- Each carton can be marked with a date so you know which eggs are the oldest and therefore should be used first.
- Individual cartons protect the eggs from damage should you need to shuffle them around a bit to make more room in the egg storage area of your refrigerator.
- Egg cartons make it handy to remove a small number of eggs for use in the kitchen, or when you sell or give away eggs to your friends and neighbors.
You'll find two peculiarities with egg cartons. First and foremost, it's difficult to get egg cartons that accommodate your eggs because more people buy eggs in large or extra large, and you'll probably get many a jumbo size egg from your flock. You can still close the lid, but it will be tight.
The second peculiarity is that are either as plentiful as popcorn, or you're asking people to hang onto them for you. There never seems to be just enough supply to keep up with the demand.
Whether you collect cartons for storing eggs or you buy them, it's nice to have an assortment. The paper cartons are most popular, but they can't be cleaned if they get badly soiled with dirty eggs from the nest or the occasional broken egg. Styrofoam egg cartons get damaged easily, but they are easy to clean as they don't absorb water.
I've heard of people keeping eggs without refrigerating them, but I won't do it for long. I think eggs will last a week or so at room temperature, but if you're looking for longer term egg storage, the best approach is to refrigerate them right away.
My refrigerator is kept at about 40 degrees F, just like any other refrigerator, and that seems to keep the eggs just fine. Keep in mind that the idea behind refrigeration (and freezing for that matter) is to slow down the deterioration of whatever it is you're trying to store.
Everything that is perishable will perish over time, no matter what temperature you keep it at. The colder the temperature, the longer you can expect to keep something, but at some point, everything edible will become inedible just because it was stored too long.
Another note about egg storage in the refrigerator - too close to the cold spots, and your eggs will freeze and crack. That means eggs on the top shelf near a freezer above can become too cold and freeze. Eggs on the bottom shelf near a bottom freezer can also suffer the same consequence.
If you dedicate a spare refrigerator to storing eggs, then it's easier to set the temperature to what you want, and you don't have to concern yourself with how the temperature affects other items in the refrigerator.
A refrigerator that is set to keep lettuce well, without freezing it, is set just right for egg storage.
If you enjoy eggs and your approach to frugal living has you raising chickens for those "cackle berries," then you'll probably want to have egg storage capability to make it through the colder and shorter days when many chicken breeds reduce their egg production.
Done with Egg Storage, back to Backyard Chickens