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    Collecting and Storing Your Chickens' Fresh Eggs

    Authored by Scott Bish

    For many of us who raise chickens, collecting their eggs is an important part of our daily routine. To ensure you and your family can safely enjoy your flock’s fresh eggs, follow these tips for cleaning and storing them. 

    Clean chicken coop habits
    Keeping eggs as clean as possible begins with how you set up your coop. Position your hens’ nesting area away from the coop entrance. This will help prevent outside dirt and debris from contacting the nests and eggs inside the coop. 

    The nesting area should also be separate from the roosting area. Chickens often defecate in their roosting boxes at night, so you’ll want to help them differentiate between their laying area and their sleeping area. 

    It’s also important to diligently replace and refresh the bedding in your chickens’ nesting boxes. Every morning, check the coop and remove any dirty straw. Toss in some clean straw and give it a good fluff. Your chickens will appreciate having a clean and comfortable spot to lay their eggs. 

    Cleaning your farm-fresh eggs
    Even with the best coop layout, you'll likely still come across some dirty eggs. Most of the time, wiping them with a dry paper towel or buffing them with a cleaning pad used just for dirty eggs should do the trick. 

    When eggs have chicken poop on them, it may be necessary to rinse them in warm water. The water temperature is important: Unlike cold water, warm water causes the contents of the egg to expand against the shell, preventing bacteria from entering. 

    However, it’s important to know that rinsing an egg removes some or all of its bloom. This is the natural, protective coating that stops bacteria from entering the egg’s porous surface. By removing the bloom, you’ll shorten the amount of time that the egg will stay fresh. 

    Storing chicken eggs
    When it comes to storing farm-fresh eggs with their bloom intact, you can safely leave them out on your counter or in a sheltered, shaded environment for a couple weeks, and refrigerated for up to two months. 

    If you’ve rinsed your eggs and removed their bloom, keep them in the fridge and use them within three days. 

    Also, if you have a healthy flock, chances are, you’re quickly collecting a good number of eggs. You’ll likely need a system or tool for tracking which eggs are newest so that you’re using the oldest ones first. An egg skelter is a great help in this regard. It’s a spiral gravity egg holder that stores up to 18 eggs in order of oldest to newest. New eggs get fed into the top, and when you’re ready to cook, simply grab one from the bottom. 

    If you accidentally mix new and older eggs, here’s a simple trick for telling them apart: Fill a bowl with cold water and place the eggs in the bowl. If they sink to the bottom, they're very fresh. If they stand on one end at the bottom of the bowl, they're likely a few weeks old and still safe to eat. Any eggs that float to the surface have likely spoiled and should be thrown away. 

    Another way to tell if an egg should be discarded is to check the shell for signs of bacteria and mold. It’s also a good idea to inspect the whites and yolk for discoloration.

    Being able to indulge in fresh eggs from your very own flock is one of the joys of living out here. Now that you know what it takes to keep your eggs clean and fresh, you’re ready to get cracking.