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How to Store Farm Fresh Eggs (and How Long They Last)

Have you ever wondered the difference between farm fresh eggs and eggs you buy at the grocery store? This post will cover everything you need to know about the differences! You will learn everything about egg storage and how long they will last (even without an expiration date!) 

Whether you have your own backyard chickens or buy farm-fresh eggs from a local farmer, it’s important to know that there is a difference in eggs sourced fresh! There are different methods for storing eggs and this post will cover in detail everything you need to know! 

One of the questions we get most often at farmer’s markets or from customers is how long our eggs last. When you buy eggs at the grocery store, there is always an expiration or best-by date on them. However, we do not put that date on our cartons! In fact, many small farms do not. So, how do you know how long the eggs are good for? Freshly laid eggs actually can last a few months when stored properly! When you are buying eggs straight from a local farmer, chances are they are very fresh, most of the time, our eggs at the market were laid that same day! There’s a big difference in super fresh eggs and eggs that you find at the grocery store, so let’s dig into it! 

photo of brown hens inside a chicken tractor
PGH’s laying hens inside a high tunnel in the winter

How long do fresh eggs last?

Farm fresh eggs typically don’t have an expiration date written on them, especially if they come from your own backyard flock! If you store your eggs on the counter (unwashed) they will last about three weeks. When they are kept in the fridge, their shelf life increases dramatically to about 4 months. We have actually kept unwashed eggs in our basement for up to 6 months! (See more about washing eggs below) 

For long-term storage, you could consider freezing your eggs, but you’ll need to crack the egg first. Raw scrambled eggs are a great way to freeze for future use in omelets or baked goods. You can also make freeze-dried eggs or try an egg preservation method called water glassing. This is where you submerge raw eggs in a lime water solution. Water-glassed eggs will last for 12-18 months! 

Differences in farm fresh eggs and store-bought commercial eggs

1. Freshness

Eggs from the store are often marked with a Julian date. The three digits start with January 1 being 001 and December 31 being 365. This is the date the carton of eggs were washed, graded, and packaged. Notice it’s not necessarily the date the eggs were collected or laid. According to the USDA, an egg handler has 30 days to collect and pack eggs from the facility where the eggs are laid. 

2. Practices 

See the farm, trust the producer! Often labels like “free range” or “cage-free” can be misleading. The producer may be meeting the minimum requirements for the labeling, but that doesn’t mean that the hens have the freedom to roam and forage like you might be imagining. If you are buying farm fresh eggs, hopefully, you can visit the farm or learn about their practices and feel good about how the hens are cared for! Don’t be shy about asking your local farmer what their practices are. Most take pride in the quality of their products! 

3. Nutrition 

Another difference is their nutrition quality. A good rule of thumb in general is that food loses nutritional qualities as they age. That goes for vegetables and also eggs! A freshly laid egg has a higher nutrition quality than an egg that is months old. Eggs straight from a farmer, or from your backyard chicken coop, is fresher than typical grocery store eggs and therefore have the highest nutritional qualities. 

4. Cooking Qualities

Farm fresh eggs also cook differently than those you buy at the grocery store. Have you ever noticed that your store-bought eggs are hard to cook over easy? This is because the egg yolks have already started to deteriorate and are not firm. Farm fresh eggs give you a better chance for the perfectly done over easy runny yolks! On the other hand, older eggs are easier to hard boil because the shell will come off easier when peeled. If you hard boil super fresh eggs you will have a hard time getting the peel off. This is because fresher eggs have a lower pH in their egg whites which makes them bond to the eggshell more. As the egg ages, the pH gets higher and is less likely to stick to the shell when boiled. 

Why do store-bought eggs expire faster?

According to the USDA, Farmers have 30 days from the day an egg is laid to get it to stores. Then, the stores have another 30 days to sell the eggs. However, most eggs in the U.S. reach grocery stores and other retail outlets just one-to-two days after being laid and nearly all of them reach the store within 72 hours or three days. After that, you have 4 to 5 weeks to consume your eggs. 

The short answer, your store-bought eggs expire faster because they are already often a month or two old before you purchase them! They are not “bad” but they are not fresh. Most producers get consumers eggs via farmer’s markets and cooperatives within the week they were laid. 

image of a chicken tractor that we raise our chickens in to allow them to forage
Our original chicken tractor design. It has feeders on the side and plenty of ventilation.

Our eggs at Pleasant Grove Homestead

Eggs are one of the many things we raise and sell here at Pleasant Grove Homestead! We take pride in our practices and the eggs that we offer and aim to get your eggs straight from the coop!  

We experience a lot of predators on our farm so our birds are raised on chicken tractors that we move twice a day. Chicken tractors are basically a chicken coop on wheels! What is really handy about chicken tractors is that you get the benefits of both pasture-raised and the protection a coop provides. 

Other benefits of this practice include allowing our birds to graze our entire property and nourish/fertilize all our soil instead of a concentrated area. They also are kept on clean grass so the eggs stay clean. Their tractors are very large and not crowded so they can range around the protected space. It has feeders, waterers, a nesting box, and a roost for them all to sleep.

Are PGH eggs organic?

We feed an organic non-GMO feed mix as well as garden scraps and milk. We are not certified organic with any of our products currently, which enabled us to provide reasonable prices to customers. Unfortunately, an organic certification is very costly, but we like to say our practices here at Pleasant Grove Homestead are “better than organic” because we do not use any chemicals on our farm. 

Are PGH eggs washed?

We hold an Iowa egg handlers license for our farm so we can sell through three different local cooperatives as they are considered retail stores. Eggs that go through these channels are required to be washed and put into a new carton. If you are buying eggs directly from our farm or a pickup location/farmers market we generally do not wash those eggs as they are laid the day you receive them. We will always tell you if they have been refrigerated or washed if you are picking them up from us so you know how to store them. (See more about egg storage below) 

Our chickens have a roll away nesting box, meaning the eggs roll down away from the chicken after they are laid. This helps us avoid dirty eggs. Since the eggs roll down into a separate space away from the chicken, our eggs stay fairly clean in the coop until we collect them. We collect eggs each afternoon and place them in cartons that same day. 

We stamp egg cartons with the day they were laid instead of using the Julian date (this is the date that they were packed). We like doing this so you know exactly how fresh the eggs are! Eggs kept in the fridge are good for up to four months from the day they were laid! If you are unsure if the eggs are still good, the easiest way to tell is with the float test. (See instructions below) 

You can buy our eggs through our farm store, at local farmers markets, or through a local co-op! 

Protective bloom on eggs

Did you know that there is a natural protective layer on eggs? This layer is called bloom and it acts as a barrier to prevent harmful bacteria and air from entering the porous eggshell.  The bloom coating also helps keep moisture inside the egg so it stays fresher for longer. 

Should you wash farm-fresh eggs?

When you wash eggs, you are also washing away the protective bloom. Commercial eggs are typically always washed so they do not come with the bloom on them. If you are curious if eggs from a local farm are washed, ask your farmer! If they have been washed, you can actually introduce more bacteria by washing them again at home. If the producer did not,  wash your eggs in warm water before consuming. Wash eggs in warm water because when the water is somewhere between warm and hot, the warmth causes the egg contents to expand, which helps prevent bacteria from being pulled through the pores of the eggshell. Cold water will cause egg contents to contract and pull in any bacteria on the shell surface. 

Or, live on the edge and crack an unwashed egg straight in the pan! You can think of washing an egg as the same as washing produce. If you are the type of person who doesn’t wash a watermelon before you eat it, you might be the rebel type who doesn’t wash their eggs either! 

Storing eggs at room temperature 

So, why do clean eggs and the bloom matter so much anyway? This actually can determine how you can store your eggs! Did you know that you can leave unwashed eggs (with the bloom) at room temperature? This is typically how you will find eggs in many European countries! Unwashed fresh eggs and eggs from backyard chickens can be stored right on your counter! This is a great method to store eggs without taking up too much space in your fridge. 

Storing fresh farm eggs in the refrigerator

For longer-term storage, the fridge is a better option. They will last much longer in the fridge! It is up to you if you want to wash them before adding them to the fridge, but be aware that if the eggs are washed they MUST be stored in the fridge because they no longer have the protective coating. 

How to tell if eggs have gone bad

To easily tell if your eggs are still safe to eat you can perform a float test. Simply add the egg to a bowl or glass of water. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lays flat, it is fresh. If it sinks to the bottom but stands up a little, it is still good but a little older. If the egg floats then that means the egg has gone bad and you should not eat it. 

Proper egg storage tip

One more tip for proper storage is to store the egg with the pointy end down. Storing the egg this way keeps the air sac inside the egg away from the yolk which helps keep the eggs fresh for a long time. 

How long do fresh eggs last?

Now that you know how to store farm fresh eggs, how long will they actually last? They typically don’t have an expiration date written on them, especially if they come from your own backyard flock! If you store your eggs on the counter (unwashed) they will last about three weeks. When they are kept in the fridge, their shelf life increases dramatically to about 4 months. We have actually kept unwashed eggs in our basement for up to 6 months! 

For long-term storage, you could consider freezing your eggs, but you’ll need to crack the egg first. Raw scrambled eggs are a great way to freeze for future use in omelets or baked goods. You can also make freeze-dried eggs or try an egg preservation method called water glassing. This is where you submerge raw eggs in a lime water solution. Water-glassed eggs will last for 12-18 months! 

Why are there different colored eggs in my egg carton?

Have you ever noticed a range of colors in your egg carton? That’s simply because different breeds of chickens lay different colored eggs! They also vary in size so there could be a chance that all the eggs in the carton look different! They all taste the same, but it can be fun to have a variation. While many people think that the nutritional quality of a brown egg is higher, it is the chicken’s diet (as well as the freshness of the egg) that determines the health benefits of the egg. Do not be afraid to buy a carton of beautiful colored eggs!

More chicken-raising resources

Are you considering having your own backyard chickens? The Pleasant Grove Homestead Blog has resources for you!

Raising Chickens: An Essential Guide for Beginners – Everything you need to know about raising chickens for meat birds or egg layers! 

How Many Eggs Will A Chicken Lay In It’s Lifetime?– Learn everything you need to know about what affects egg laying. 

Find all of our resources for raising chickens here!

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