Saturday, March 10
Cleaning Chicken Eggs - Plain and Simple
I recently saw an advertisement for Egg Wipes and it brought back the old question of how to clean the coop eggs before eating them. When we first got our chickens, we researched every aspect from heat lamps to proper nest boxes to egg safety and I decided on the less is more approach to cleaning the eggs. I am all for safety, but I think that the less you can do to something you are eventually going to eat, the better.
But I wanted to explore this topic again in that I do want what is safe. Who knows - there could be some new information out there.
So, these egg wipes are biodegradable cleaning cloths that come in a pop-up container resembling any number of cleaning cloth containers. Their plant-based cleaning solution is made up of Water,non-ionic Surfactants derived from corn, palm and coconut oils, water conditioner,preservative - less than .2%.
Sounds good, but are they really necessary? Do we need to buy another product to clean a product that we have produced ourselves? I am sure that some people will want to use these and more power to them. However, I will stick to my tried and true approach for getting clean eggs from the coop.
First, I try to keep a clean nest box - fresh straw weekly and a daily quick-glance inspection to remove any obvious poop or dirt. I try to visit the coop at least twice a day to gather eggs which leaves less opportunity for them to become dirty with muddy chicken feet or from the hen who can't make it to the "outhouse" fast enough.
This seems to take care of 75% of any dirty egg problem I might have.
When there are eggs that get dirty - from poop, mud, remnants of a broken egg - you have to clean them.
I rinse the eggs in room temperature water and get rid of stubborn, dried on debris with the soft sponge. I have a sponge exclusively for this purpose so nothing gets transfered where I don't want it. I let them air dry and put the, pointy side down, into cartons and they go into the fridge. If I'm in a rush, I dry them off with a soft dish towel.
That's it. Plain and simple. I don't see the need to complicate things.
That said, there are quite a few other methods out there to clean eggs - everything from not cleaning all but the dirtiest eggs to using bleach. What works for me might not not work for you. In searching for a few alternatives, here are some general guide rules containing the most frequent cleaning methods and advice:
Water: It is a common thread to use only room temperature or luke warm water to clean eggs. Cold water causes the pores in an eggshell to pull any wayward bacteria from the surface in through the shell and into the egg.
If you have chickens then you know egg yolk from a broken egg, once dried, is hard to remove without damaging the egg. You end up putting your thumb though the shell from applying the pressure to clean the egg and you end up with a broken egg in your sink. Luke warm water is actually better to use in this case, and you should use it for all your egg cleaning. Cold water will just make that dried egg yoke harder to remove. Another good reason to stick with room temperature water.
Also, do not immerse the eggs in water or let them stand in water. I use a basin of luke warm water from the tap, soak the sponge in it, and wipe down the egg over the sink. This saves water from not using the running tap while you are cleaning the whole batch.
Dry Cleaning: You can forgo water altogether if you wish and use a dry sanding sponge, loofah, light sandpaper, or abrasive kitchen sponge. I have found that this works well for not-so-dirty eggs that still need to have a little cleaning before going into the carton.
The Bloom: Eggs have a natural antibacterial protein coating called the bloom. It provides some protection to the egg in that it helps protect against bacteria entering the pores of the egg shell. The dry cleaning method is the best if preserving the bloom on your eggs is your goal. I have found it said that if you don't wash your eggs, just dry clean them, the bloom will protect the egg so you do not need to refrigerate them. However, they will deteriorate much more rapidly than refrigerated eggs do - bloom or no bloom. Refrigeration slows down the aging process and the eggs will stay fresher, longer.
Sanitize: Some people follow the washing and drying of eggs with a sanitizing spray, using bleach diluted in water for the spray mixture. I am really not a fan of doing this. Adding chemicals, especially after you have washed away the bloom, just doesn't make sense to me. This is also why I do not use dish soap when I am washing the eggs, not even a very mild, unscented one.
How do you clean your eggs? Do you use any kind of cleaning solution? Have you found a natural, home made solution that works?