Monday, March 24, 2008

Do you need to refrigerate your eggs?

I hope I'm not too late. I've been wanting to post all day to tell you that it is "up in the air" as to whether it is really safe to eat those beautiful hard-boiled Easter Eggs that your gang so lovingly dyed sometime this past week. Erring on the side of caution, I guess if they were out of the fridge (which I'm assuming most Easter eggs were) for any longer than a few hours, you should probably just toss them. If they have any little cracks, definitely rid yourself of them (and the salmonella they've likely bred...) I'm going to just throw mine out. They've been out for almost a week now. But, in all probability, they'd still be fine to eat!

Which leads me nicely into an interesting egg debate:
Do you need to refrigerate eggs?

The answer isn't as easy as most North Americans think. We are super hypervigilant about putting eggs in the fridge. At the stores, they are sold from a fridge section. All of our official government health or drug/food agencies will tell you that eggs must be refrigerated, in order to prevent bacteria (salmonella). Ask any North American and they will tell you enthusiastically "YES!!".

Ask any farmer, European or Asian, and they'll tell you that's hogwash.
Europeans leave their fresh eggs in a bowl on the counter . Eggs sold in stores in Asia and Europe are sold off the shelves, not from the fridge.
I often leave eggs out after collection, or before and after washing them. Eventually they'll end up in the fridge, but only because they stay fresher longer.
Eggs last a long time! Like months. Even long after most expiration dates on a carton have past, the eggs will be fine. You'll smell a rotten egg. You'll know if it's bad. (think Hallowe'en night or Frosh week.....). An egg sitting out on the counter just won't last as long as one in the fridge.
Unless you're living in a super hot climate (in which case, I now might just officially hate you), your eggs are fine on the counter or out of the fridge for a while.
It isn't that easy for an egg to get a bacteria. The shell and membrane of an egg are built to protect that little chick from just about everything, so although the shell is porous, it is protective. and the egg naturally has an invisible coating that protects it even further from bacterias. In North America, egg producers are made to clean the eggs before they go to market for the general public. This cleaning process strips the eggs of this protective membrane. So, the egg's longevity and ability to protect itself is slightly compromised. In other countries around the world, eggs are not cleaned prior to selling. Perhaps this is why they are okay with keeping them at room temperature. Also, tiny little ice coolers or bar-sized fridges are the norm in many parts of England and Europe, so finding room for eggs just isn't a priority.

So, because we have room in our oversized fridges, we might as well refrigerate them.
But, don't panic if they're out of the fridge for a while. Everyone'll be fine. They really don't need to be kept cold - and are fluffier and nicer to cook with when they're at room temperature, too.


Renee said...

Thank you for this Public Service Announcement. :) We set our eggs out when we wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings (after they've been in the fridge all night) so that they get to room temperature before we cook them.

Magnolia said...

We boil, cool, decorate, refridgerate, and eat them in the morning before the egg/chocolate hunt. If any are left they become the table centre piece. When we have had about all we can take..I take a few more pictures of them and they go in the garbage (no pigs to feed them to). Then we scrapbook the pics.

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Rachel said...

I live in a "super hot" climate - Bankgok, officially the world's hottest city and, no, nobody refrigerates eggs here either :)

When I lived in the US I always thought it odd that Americans did. As a European I grew up knowing there is absolutely no reason to refrigerate eggs.

Good post :)

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