During my chicken workshops I cover how to wash eggs. It’s not really a complicated subject but you might be surprised at how many people are concerned about bacteria on eggs (especially with that big Salmonella scare last year) and want to know specifically how to clean them.
I get it, I get it. Eggs come out where??? Poop is gross. Poops on eggs is even more gross. But let’s talk a little about those eggs.
First of all when eggs are laid, they are covered with a thin oil coating that makes the shell impermeable to water (and therefore bacteria.) Because of this, you don’t need to refrigerate an unwashed egg for up to a few (3 tops) days. (Of course I tell people that they shouldn’t ever leave any eggs in a very hot kitchen or in direct sunlight.)
Most people don’t like any kind of dirt (especially poop) on their eggs. Not a problem, but all you really need is a little water and a soft sponge.
This is how I wash all of our eggs:
I use gloves, but I use thin plastic (reusable gloves) so that I can retain a certain amount of feel for the eggs. If you have any cuts or scraps on your hands, gloves are a requirement. (If you choose not to use gloves then make sure you use lots of soap and hot water afterward to wash your hands.)
I use a soft plastic bucket (I use the bottom of an old salad spinner) and fill it halfway with warm (not hot) water. Each egg gets gently placed in the bottom of the bucket (I only do about 10 eggs at a time to make sure they have room around them.)
Any eggs that float or whose butts tilt upward are discarded because it means that air has entered the shell and you can no longer guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated. Throw those suckers out.
Each remaining egg is then picked up and with a soft sponge (dollar store sponges work great) I gently scrub off any dirt. You’ll soon discover that a light touch is all you need.
With a quick rinse, the egg is ready to be placed in a carton.
Once eggs are washed they must be refrigerated.
People always ask me if they should use soap and even antiseptic chemicals like bleach when cleaning eggs.
I haven’t found them to be necessary but then again we use our eggs fairly quickly after they’ve been washed. The sooner you use your eggs, the lower the risk of any kind of contamination. I understand though, that some people might not be as comfortable with germs and bacteria as I am (ex-clinical microbiologist) and so I have been looking for some kind of cleaner to recommend to people that is both effective at cleaning while still being safe for use (I’ll go on the record as saying, I’d never put bleach on any of my eggs.)
I was recently contacted by CareFree Enzymes a company that bills itself as “the ONLY manufacturer of all natural enzymes, which is free of bacteria. We have built a reputation since 1995 as the exclusive manufacturer of enzymes for the birding, water gardening and agricultural industries.”
They’ve asked me to test a few products on our chickens and eggs and I’ve agreed to do so.
One product is used to cut down on the hen house ammonia smell (something that could come in handy for backyard poultry owners) and another product protects chickens against fleas, mites, and lice. We haven’t had a problem with any of those pesky little critters to date but I think it’s more a matter of luck than anything else. The day will come and I’d rather be forearmed with knowledge than run around looking for sometime that might help.
In particular, I’ll be looking into this product:
Egg Washer Pro
Extremely effective and designed for egg washing. The unique blend of all natural enzymes attacks organic stains and protein residue for effective removal of contaminants. For years, producers have looked for an alternative to chlorine for cleaning eggs. Now they have one.
You can bet that if it works, if it’s safe and if it’s easy to use, I’ll be recommending it in my workshops (and on this blog) to those who want to safely use something more on their eggs than just warm water.
I’ll be putting a post up in a few weeks with my experiences and results.