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How to store eggs

Eggs on Floor

Have you ever dropped a carton of eggs? It really makes a mess.

Here are tips on the best way to store eggs:

  • Buy clean eggs from a refrigerator display case. Don’t purchase eggs that aren’t refrigerated. Any bacteria present in the egg can grow quickly if stored at room temperature. At the store, check the eggs to make sure they’re not cracked.
  • Buy eggs before the expiration date and use them within 30 to 35 days. The expiration date is the last date a store can sell the eggs and still refer to them as “fresh.” After 30 to 35 days, discard the eggs.
  • Take eggs straight home and store them in the original carton in coldest part of refrigerator. Don’t store them in the door because the light causes them to deteriorate faster.
  • Don’t reuse egg cartons if there is any sign that an egg cracked in the carton. Bacteria can live on the cardboard and transfer to other eggs or people’s hands.
  • Don’t wash eggs. Washing removes the protective mineral oil coating and increases the potential for bacteria on the shell to enter the egg.
  • Use eggs as soon as possible. Refrigeration slows the loss of quality, but the longer the eggs are stored, the quality changes: the yolk absorbs water from the white, moisture and carbon dioxide in the white evaporate through the pores, allowing more air to penetrate the shell. As a result, the air cell becomes larger and the white becomes thinner losing some of its thickening and leavening powers.
  • Check the “pack date” – the day the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton. The number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive date of the year starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365. The state laws where the eggs are packed and/or sold govern plants not under USDA inspection.
  • Refrigerate hard cooked eggs promptly. When fresh eggs are hard cooked, the protective coating is washed away. They should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking and used within a week.
  • Use leftover yolks and whites within four days. If eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover tightly, and keep refrigerated for use within two days.
  • Don’t freeze eggs in their shells. To freeze whole eggs, beat yolks and whites together. Egg whites and yolks can also be frozen by themselves. Use frozen eggs within a year. If eggs freeze accidentally in their shells, keep them frozen until needed. Defrost them in refrigerator. Discard any with cracked shells.
  • Handle eggs safely. Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work areas with warm, soapy water before and after contact with eggs and egg-rich foods.
  • Don't keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than two hours. Serve cooked eggs and egg-rich foods immediately after cooking, or place in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once. Use within three to four days. Recipes using raw eggs should be cooked immediately or refrigerated and cooked within 24 hours.
Copyright 2011, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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