To wash or not to wash, that’s the question a lot of people ask before cracking some eggs. So, should you wash eggs before cracking them or not? - In this article, I take a look at what’s recommended.
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Should You Wash Eggs Before Cooking Them?
I’m not going to lead down the path of a long-winded answer. But there’s not a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question of whether not eggs should be washed.
The reason why there is not a simple answer is that when a chicken lays an egg, it comes coated with a natural, protective coating called the “bloom”.
This coating should be left intact for as long as possible. Doing so means the egg is staying as fresh and free from bacteria as possible.
If you’re going to use the eggs as soon as you crack them open, of course, you can wash them first. This will remove the coating, but it’s not going to matter if you’re using the eggs.
You don’t need to use anything other than warm water. But careful too in how you wash eggs. You may be washing bacteria away, so be sure to let all the water runoff away from food.
Should You Wash Fresh Laid Eggs?
If you’re collecting eggs from your backyard chickens or obtaining them from a fresh source, you should not wash them.
Washing them removes the antibacterial bloom. This shortens their life expectancy and quite honestly diminishes the quality, which is the last thing you want.
If you’re collecting eggs and they have poop on, obviously you need to do something about that. You need to give them what’s called a “dry clean”.
This is exactly as it sounds, you simply wipe the eggs with a dry cloth.
You’ll notice how easily poop wipes off (I hope). This is because the egg has that protective coating I mentioned called the bloom.
Don’t use any water, cleaning agent, or vinegar as I’ve seen recommended. Doing so will remove the coating. This makes the eggs more susceptible to bacteria like salmonella, which is one of the main causes of food poisoning.
Related - How to store fresh eggs from chickens.
Should You Wash Eggs From the Store?
This is another interesting question. It might depend on where you’re located and how the eggs were treated before hitting the store shelves (or refrigerated area).
First of all, eggs from the store should be clean. At least, clean enough that you don’t need to wipe or wash them.
You should take a look in the box before buying them to make sure none are cracked, be sure to pick clean eggs, too!
Secondly, how you see eggs being stored is an indication of whether or not they’ve been washed. As a rule of thumb, in the U.S. eggs are refrigerated. This is because they’re washed during their preparation and the protective layer is removed.
Across most of Europe, it’s illegal to wash eggs before giving them to a store to sell. This sounds less desirable, right? But it’s actually better for the quality of the egg and is the reason why they’re not refrigerated in stores.
Why is there this fundamental difference between the U.S. and Europe?
Both methods are done to prevent the spread of salmonella and other bacteria. In the U.S. the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees food safety and states this is how to protect the public against salmonella.
In the U.K. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) oversees its food safety guidelines. They’ve decided that the best way to stop salmonella is to allow the eggs to keep their natural protective coating.
Clearly, neither is right, nor wrong. It does mean that eggs in the U.S. have already been washing though. In Europe, people know not to wash their eggs.
Did You Know; Eggshells Are Porous?
Something that often comes as a surprise is that eggshells are porous. They may feel hard and solid, but according to the Science of Cooking, eggshells have as many as 17,000 tiny pores.
This is why and how the “float test” works to test an egg for freshness. A float test, for those who do not know, is to simply place an egg in a glass of water to see if it floats.
The more it floats, the further past it’s best it is. This is because eggshells allow air in through those tiny little holes.
The more air that has seeped into the egg, the more it’ll float when submerged in water. The more air in the egg, the more bacteria has potentially seeped in too.
So, if an egg floats it’s deemed to be past its best and not to be eaten.
Do Fresh Eggs Need To Be Refrigerated?
The basic rule of whether or not you should refrigerate eggs follows the principles I’ve covered above.
If you’re unsure of their origin and whether or not they’ve been washed, you should refrigerate them. If you know the eggs have been collected fresh from the coop, nesting boxes, etc, then you don’t have to.
It’s not a bad idea either way. According to Healthline, refrigerating eggs keeps them fresh for twice as long as at room temperature. So, if you’re unsure,
What this all boils down to is that you should never wash eggs just because you want to clean them. Unless you’re going to crack them open and use them right away, that is.
Washing eggs removes the natural antibacterial film that naturally has, called the bloom.
You can refrigerate eggs so they’ll last longer. Although fresh eggs are fine for weeks at room temperature if they haven’t been washed.