I'm okay with being a food weirdo. And I'm okay with the weird glances and skeptical looks from others.
After all, when one's counters are full of lacto-fermented sauerkraut, sprouting wheat berries, culturing yogurt, fermenting kefir, and brewing kombucha, one's bound to get a few odd questions from visitors.
And I don't mind.
Same goes for my room temperature eggs. Yet another questionable farm product that litters my counter space.
Our homestead is home to 19 beautiful chickens – 15 hens, 3 roosters, and 1 we're-still-not-sure-even-though-its-super-old (but that's a whole other story that seriously leads me to question if chickens can actually be both sexes).
But sexing chickens isn't my specialty, so let's move on.
Even through these past few cold and dreary winter months, our laying hens have been happily providing us with eggs each day – anywhere from five to ten. We don't utilize a supplemental light so I've been quite pleased that they're still willing to lay for us in this dark time of year.
Lord knows I wouldn't. Heck, I barely shave my legs through the winter.
Each day, I lovingly walk (or slide… or sled… or fall…) down to the coop and collect the day's bounty. After they're brought to the house, the eggs are placed in an antique metal basket-ish-thing of my late Grandmother's that sits right next to the stove.
That's my egg basket.
The eggs aren't washed or processed in any way. Instead, they just sit there. At room temperature. All day.
Oh now, don't get all hot to trot. It's just the plain truth my friends. Fresh eggs that have not been washed DO NOT require refrigeration. Did you know that eggs are laid with a natural, antibacterial coating? This coating completely closes all the pores of the egg. It's like a force-field of natural awesomeness.
When eggs are washed, that coating is removed. Pores are opened. And bacteria has the perfect opportunity to strike. BAM. Contamination. Therefore, if one does decide to wash their eggs, they shan't be kept at room temperature any longer but MUST be refrigerated. Bacteria rules dictate. (USDA rules also dictate that eggs cannot be sold outside of refrigeration so even the swankiest health-food-stores will still be selling their eggs from cold storage).
But Shaye, aren't you worried about the eggs going bad?
Actually, no. I'm not. Because our family eats them practically as fast as they come in! The max that any egg sits on the counter for is a few days and because of it's natural protective coating, those days simply don't have a great affect on the egg.
But Shaye, how can you tell if the egg is bad?
Easy. If it floats in a glass of water, it's bad. Toss it. If it sinks, it's good to go – so fry it up!
But Shaye, why don't you just refrigerate them “just in case”?
1. That's another step of having to battle egg cartons and
2. My fridge is entirely full of milk all the time – girlfriend ain't got room for three dozen eggs hangin' out without good reason
But Shaye, is this just some sort of new fangled hippy mumbo-jumbo to freak us out about our food?
No. In fact, until just a few decades ago, this is how people kept their eggs and how many people STILL keep their eggs around the world. American's are one of the few cultures that insists our eggs our refrigerated (probably because the quality is so poor we have to try and compensate somehow… but that's another topic!). For short-term storage, this is a fantastic and safe option.
Most store-bought eggs are washed, bleached, and then have a synthetic coating reapplied. These eggs are layed under horrible conditions and the threat of contamination is much higher than a few chickens on a farm. My chickens are happy, healthy, and free! Their eggs are laid in a clean environment and are gathered fresh each day.
But Shaye, don't you get things stuck to your eggs?
Sometimes I have to pick feathers off, but that's about as bad as it gets. I clean the coop on a weekly basis and I keep the nesting boxes stuffed with hay – I find this works better and is easier to manage and clean than cedar chips or saw dust of any kind. If there is a chunk of, ya know, stuck to the egg I'll simply flick it off or gently rub with a dry cloth.
Ya. We flick poo around here. It's just part of life.
But Shaye, how can I know it works?
Come to my homestead and I'll whisk you up a omelette, okay?
One of my favorite parts about the homesteading life is the un-complication of things that we've made so complicated. Here, there's no need for fancy equipment, scales, chemicals, or cleaning procedures. Because we eat what we grow (or rather, our chickens lay) we get to enjoy the simplicity of gathering and cooking without any fuss.
What say you? Do you wash and refrigerate your farm-fresh eggs?