How fresh are they? How long do they last?
These are the top two questions people ask at the farmer’s market and they are always surprised when I say 4-5 weeks, if not longer.
What? That long? Don’t eggs go bad? Yes, eggs do go bad, but they have an extremely long shelf life.
Eggs have a protective barrier over the shell called the ‘bloom’. This is what stops contaminants and bacteria from entering the egg. As the egg gets older, this bloom starts to degrade and allows air, and possibly bacteria, to pass through the shell. The egg also starts to lose moisture and becomes dehydrated.
Have I ever opened a bad egg? The answer is yes, and let me tell you, it was terrible! We had to fumigate the entire house. Of course, that egg was over 3 months old and had been sitting outside in the heat. (On a side note, in some ways Clifford is glad we don’t have kids. The extra science experiments we might get into would be awesome!)
Did you know there is no federal law on how to date eggs?
In the age of lawsuits and federal regulation, this blows my mind. The only item with required dating is infant formula, everything else is up to the manufacturer.
So how old are the eggs in the grocery store? The short answer is there’s no way of really knowing! USDA graded eggs use a three-digit code (001 for January 1st, 183 for July 2nd, or 365 for December 31st) to represent the date the egg was washed and packaged. It does NOT indicate the date the egg was laid, so it could be a lot older.
In this example, the eggs were packaged on July 8th and had a ‘Best by’ date of August 21st. This is 45 days, but there is no way of knowing when the eggs were actually laid.
Of course, the eggs are still good after this date, so you don’t need to throw them away! Just be cautious and crack an egg in a separate bowl to make sure it doesn’t smell, or drop the whole egg in a bowl of water to make sure it doesn’t float.
One of the benefits of buying eggs from your local farmer is you know you’re getting the freshest eggs around.
For most of the year, I sell our eggs within seven days. Just ask my winter customers who put their name on the waiting list and have experienced rations! In the summer, when chickens are laying more, the eggs might be 10-14 days old when I’m at the farmer’s market. I try really hard to make sure you get the freshest eggs available!
Hopefully this helps calm your fears about how long you can keep eggs!