What Temperature to Wash Farm Fresh Eggs

Ever found yourself puzzled over the right temperature to wash those farm fresh eggs you just picked up? When our first laying hens started laying eggs, I was confused at what temperature to wash them.

My brain told me that to prevent bacteria from entering into the egg, I needed to wash them in cold water. I was wrong.

Eggs need to be washed in very warm water to prevent bacteria from entering the shell.

Washing farm fresh eggs in water that’s around 100°F to 120°F is best. This ensures you’re cleaning them thoroughly without letting bacteria sneak in through the shell.

Using water that’s too cold can cause the egg contents to contract, pulling bacteria through the shell.

On the other hand, water that’s steaming hot might partially cook the eggs, leaving them with an odd texture.

By sticking to warm water, you maintain a happy medium, keeping your eggs clean and fresh without any unwanted surprises.

Understanding Egg Washing

It is not necessary to wash farm fresh eggs. But, there will be cases where you have very dirty eggs that you absolutely need to wash.

Knowing why and when cleaning farm fresh eggs matters and how their natural protective layer works is important as a small hobby farmer.

Significance of Cleaning Farm Fresh Eggs

Cleaning farm fresh eggs helps remove dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants. Freshly laid eggs can get messy from mud, feces, or even chicken feathers sticking to the shells.

Ensuring eggs are clean before storage can reduce health risks, and also keep you from the yuck factor. Some egg customers (if you sell eggs) will also prefer washed eggs.

Using lukewarm water to wash eggs prevents the shell’s pores from opening too wide, which can let bacteria in.

Never use cold water as it can cause the egg contents to contract and draw contaminants inside.

Avoid soaking the eggs as well, since prolonged soaking can compromise the integrity of the shell.

The Egg’s Natural Protective Layer

Eggs have a natural coating called the “bloom” or cuticle that helps protect them from bacteria.

This layer seals the pores of the eggshell and acts as the first line of defense. Washing can remove this layer, making eggs more vulnerable to contamination and spoilage.

To maintain freshness, many people clean eggs just before use rather than right after collecting. I often collect eggs in a basket until I have a big batch to wash.

This practice preserves the cuticle for longer. If you need to store cleaned eggs, keep them in the fridge to prevent bacterial growth due to the loss of the protective layer.

Washing Techniques

Cleaning farm fresh eggs can be done using two main techniques: dry cleaning and wet washing. Each method has specific steps and benefits, ensuring your eggs stay safe and fresh.

Dry Cleaning Method

Dry cleaning is often preferred because it helps maintain the egg’s natural protective coating. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently remove dirt. Be careful not to press too hard to avoid cracking the shell.

A fine-grit sandpaper can be handy for more stubborn spots, but always handle with care. This method is great if your eggs are relatively clean and stain free.

Wet Washing Method

Wet washing uses water and mild disinfectants to clean eggs. Use very warm water to prevent bacteria from being sucked into the shell through thermal contraction. A temperature around 100°F works best.

Gently wash the eggs with a brush and mild detergent. Using vinegar in your egg wash is life changing. Rinse thoroughly and place them on a rack to air dry.

This method is best for eggs that are very dirty.

Best Practices for Egg Handling Post-Wash

Once you’ve washed your farm fresh eggs, drying them properly is key. Use a clean, lint-free towel or paper towels to gently pat each egg dry.

Another option is laying them onto a clean dish towel, and letting them air dry for a couple minutes. I always separate cracked eggs from the uncracked ones immediately.

Use up the cracked ones first, as they will go bad more quickly. Some eggs have hairline fractures that aren’t easy to see. An egg held to a light will reveal any small fractures.

It’s important to store your eggs in the refrigerator after washing. Make sure they are kept at a consistent cool temperature to maintain freshness.

Washed farm eggs that are kept in the fridge can keep up to 3 months.

Place your eggs in cartons or containers designed for egg storage. This helps prevent any possible cross-contamination.

It’s also a good practice to label your eggs with the date they were collected. This way, you can keep track of how fresh they are. If you only have a couple hens, this can be an challenge.

Another option is to write the date onto the egg itself.

Eggs are fragile. Handle them gently to avoid cracking. Cracks can let in bacteria, which isn’t good for anyone.

Try to use eggs within a couple of weeks for the best taste and texture. Fresh is always better! However, supermarket eggs are said to be on the shelf for at least 3 months, so you have some time.

Keep an eye on your refrigeration temperature. It should be set to below 40°F (4°C).

If you notice any odd smells or textures, it’s ALWAYS safer to discard the egg. Your health is worth more than a questionable egg.

Always remember: cleanliness is key. Keep your hands, tools, and storage areas clean to ensure the highest quality for your farm fresh eggs.

Washing eggs is something you will encounter if you keep layers. You might have stained eggs sometimes. Cleaning them with very warm water with a generous splash of vinegar is the easiest way to clean them.

Happy Homesteading!