Refrigerating Eggs

Why do we refrigerate eggs?

Something that surprised me during my trip to a grocery store in England was that they didn’t refrigerate their eggs. I spoke with our hostess at the hotel and she told me she didn’t refrigerate her eggs either. I am not a huge fan of eggs, but the ones I had in England were amazing! I found myself looking forward to breakfast every day. (It could have been their love of bacon as well, but I’m not sure- yum bacon!)

The only difference between the eggs was that in America we refrigerate our eggs and in England they do not. I spent some time searching the internet trying to find out what makes American eggs different. I couldn’t find much information as to why American eggs will make you sick if you don’t refrigerate them (or so we are told) but chickens in other parts of the world lay refrigeration optional eggs.

Personally, I would always refrigerate eggs purchased from a grocery store. But what about farm fresh eggs, do those need to be refrigerated too? I don’t want to put my family at risk by not refrigerating eggs but I often wonder why we do the things we do. Is it out of habit? Is it because a small percentage of people got sick from not refrigerating eggs, so now everyone does it just in case? Is it because our government likes rules and regulations? I wonder.


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Comments

  1. We raise chickens for eggs, and the rule of thumb is that if they have been refrigerated already, they need refrigeration, but if they haven’t, they don’t. There is a protective coating on the egg that gets removed by the condensation that forms in the fridge. We only refrigerated the eggs in the hottest days of summer and when we have too many on the counter.

    However, eggs from the store (unless you are buying them farm fresh, from a flock with a rooster) are not fertilized. Technically, they don’t rot in the shell. They just dry out and get stale. If there is a break in the shell, or if the egg is out of the shell, it can rot, but not otherwise. Fertilized eggs, however, will definitely rot, if kept in a hot place. We’ve never had it happen with any of our eggs that were in the fridge.

  2. Paige Tyler says:

    I live in Germany and I just bought some eggs last week off the shelf as opposed to the refrigerated section and when I got home and opened them I laughed at loud at the feathers that were inside my container. I loved it!!!

    When I inquired as to why there weren’t refrigerated- I was told they don’t come out of the chicken cold- therefore they can stay at room temperature for quite sometime with no issues. And the yolks are the brightest orange color that I have ever seen. They are beautiful!!!

  3. Lori says:

    On baking days, I remove the eggs from the fridge in the morning and set on counter so that they come to room temperature. A dear woman told me that was the secret to her baking…she said, “Eggs, like Christians, work better when they are warm.” :) She also told me to always, no exceptions, break each egg into a separate bowl and not directly into the mix…saves yourself heartache if you get a bad egg, store-bought or farm fresh; it can happen either way.

  4. Grainne says:

    I live in the UK and always buy unrefrigerated eggs and keep them in a sweet little wicker basket in my kitchen, I often times eat them well after their best before dates and have never gotten sick from them. My whole family does the same and friends who are keen bakers say unrefrigerated eggs are better for baking too.

    Don’t know if it would make any difference, I doubt it would, but the eggs that tend to be sold here in Northern Ireland are brown eggs (because some consumer poll from the 70s stated people preferred them cos they thought they were healthier – there’s no difference though).

    Hope that’s helpful, Kyerin above could be right though that it’s to do with environmental temperature, we have a really mild climate.

    Grainne

  5. Lotty says:

    I am Dutch and I never put eggs in the fridge, but I don’t use them after their past on date. My friend in France however uses eggs, even if they are a bit after the date, to bake cakes. So I think it is just where you come from and what you are used to do.

  6. Chris says:

    If the egg is a NON-CHEMICAL egg there is absolutely no need to refrigerate an egg. For hundreds, if not thousands of years, we in the UK and just about every other country on the planet simply do not refrigerate eggs. There is MORE than enough evidence around to show that refrigeration of NON-CHEMICAL eggs is actukally bad for the consumer…this is due to oxidization that takes place within the egg placed in a closed, confined area. The BEST place for NON-CHEMICAL eggs is, quite simply, in a wicker basket on the kitchen table…where your GrandMother used to keep them…just fine! Why does the USA have this odd, rather new-fangled, idea to place eggs in the refigerator? Because the food chain in the US is almost completely run by large, chemical based companies…chemicals of one sort or another permeate over 99% of all commercially sold foodstuffs. Beef, pork, vegetables, fruits and yes, even eggs contain chemicals. From birth young chicks are fed medicated feed in huge quantities and the list goes on and on and on….Eggs, containing even trace amounts of chemicals, NEED to be refrigerated. Get it? Still not a believer?? In the past 40 years children have developed – at least physically – at an alarming rate. Why? GROWTH HORMONES permeatting the entire food chain. Diabetes was almost unheard of 40 years ago…now it is a PANDEMIC….you ARE what you EAT!

  7. Alyssa says:

    I very much appreciate Chris’s comment. I have chickens, and we do NOT refrigerate the eggs. When we first started with the chickens, we were trying to keep up with 40 chickens laying 40+ eggs a day and trying to put them in a 25cf fridge (that idea didn’t last long). Now we just keep them in cartons on the counter (we don’t wash them until we have to use them). I sell the eggs to locals and am very clear about our process, they go from chicken right to carton. The buyers have to decide if they are alright with this. We, in the U.S., are so used to putting everything in the refrigerator but we have to remember, how long has everyday consumers been able to own a refrigerator? It wasn’t that long ago when the idea of ice boxes were the only option (and those were pretty small). We have been programmed to think that eggs are only good if they are cold, but this is not true. Our eggs stay on the counter for a few weeks before they are eaten.
    The issue is temperature. You cannot chill an egg and then think to storing it at room temp. The fluctuation in temp is the problem here. Farm fresh eggs are usually not chilled (from my experience), store bought eggs are washed and chilled. So you cannot take a grocery store egg and store it on the counter. Buy farm fresh eggs, they are not pumped with chemicals and hormones, they taste better, can sit out on the counter in a pretty wire basket and keep smaller farms in business.
    On a side note, for baking- room temperature eggs are the only way to go. If you plan on frying or poaching an egg, pop it in the fridge for a bit to tighten up the whites. For easier peeling of hard boiled eggs, use eggs that are at least 5-7 days old. If you plan on keeping farm fresh eggs on the counter, keep away from temp fluctuations (away from sunlight or the stove or the side of the fridge). Buy local, you’ll get the best, richest, with bright orange yolks, and best tasting eggs you’ll ever have in your life.

  8. Anne M says:

    I worked with a chef who once told me that we (Americans) chill our eggs to protect against salmonella. However the recent salmonella scare featuring refriderated eggs should tell you that chilling your eggs is not necessarily protection. Anyways, the chef told me he put his eggs out the night before he was going to use them, warm eggs produce fluffier results. For home use and if you are afraid of leaving eggs out on the counter, take your eggs out of the fridge and put them in a bowl of hot water for 15 mins, then use. Makes for amazing scrambled eggs and omelettes.

  9. Interesting post! My mum’s family is English, but my mother (I don’t know about the rest of the fam) always kept eggs in the refrigerator. Not sure of all her reasons, but one would certainly have been that she had far more room to spare in her refrigerator than on her counter. I, too, would never waste my valuable counterspace on something that keeps well in the fridge. I do have a breadbox taking up counterspace because, as one commenter noted, bread does not do well in the fridge. But when using eggs for omelets, scrambled eggs or baking, I always take them out a few hours ahead to come to room temperature; much better results than with cold eggs.

  10. mostlymaja says:

    I worked in a Sunflower store when I was in high school, about 1970, Greenville, MS. They only refrigerated eggs when they put them out on the aisle. When they were in the back of the store waiting to be stocked out front the cartons sat out like so many bags of flour or bags of cookies.
    They might not have done that at all groceries, but they sure did it there.

  11. Rachelle says:

    Funny i experienced the same thing in Jamaica! The store just had eggs in an aisle on a shelf!!

  12. Sally says:

    I’m from Australia – we don’t refrigerate our eggs – although one of our giantsupermarket chains recently started to the othe sells them from the shelf – either way when they get home they stay on the bench – they last for weeks – although the refrigerated ones seem to have a bit less longevity than those sold unrefrigerated – the way to check if they’re still good if you’re worried is to pop them into water – if they lie sideways they’re very fresh and good for cracking into water for poaching etc – if they stand on their end they’re a bit older with a runnier white and good for meringes and hard boiling cos they peel better – if they leave the bottom of the bowl and float they are too old and give them to the dog – if they shoot to the top with abandon they are probably so off they are smelly so don’t crack them as its a smell you never forget!

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