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Found a HUUUUGE clutch of eggs - here's my question.

 
Lindsey Jane
Posts: 19
Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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I (or rather my mongrel k-9) found a clutch of 3 dozen eggs in our woods from our hens. We knew they were laying somewhere out in the brush, but until yesterday had been unsuccessful at finding the little buggers.
Yesterday, the hound found them. And led me right to them - good boy!

Here's my question: it's been raining awfully hard here for the last, oh, 3 days or so. We usually keep our eggs on the counter top unwashed and then wash in hot soapy water when we are ready to use them. I know the membrane keeps them safe when they are chilling on our counter, but how about being rained on for 3 days to a week straight? Does that membrane stay intact to protect them from bacterial growth, rot, and all the other nasties? And, really, based on the sheer numbers, I'd say those crafty hens were out there laying for at least 2-3 weeks...

We performed the water trick and all of them sank, so they aren't bad that way - but usually that just works on old eggs that have started to dry and diminish in volume, right?

Are they safe to eat? We washed all of them in hot soapy water and put them in the fridge as soon as we found them. My instincts say they are fine, but wanted to solicit advice from other awesome people.

Thanks!

 
Rus Williams
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I can't answer your specific question but for what it's worth we don't wash our eggs our hens lay.
We collect them, brush the occasional feather off, put them in egg boxes and then use them without any washing.

In fact I think it's illegal in Europe to sell washed eggs in shops, much in the same way that it's illegal to sell unwashed eggs in the US.

Normally speaking you really, really do not need to wash fresh eggs.


 
Abbey Battle
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Location: Wealden AONB
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I've had similar experiences with my girls.
Only way to tell is when you crack each egg to use it. I crack them away from the good eggs just in case one is bad. Having said that, when they really are bad they explode with a small amout of pressure.
The water test is in no way reliable and I know of no real way of testing before cracking. If they look and smell good then I have always used them, if they look the slightest bit suspect then they get binned.
 
David Hernick
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Location: Oakland, CA
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The protective bloom on the eggs is what seals the pores in the eggshells and it is very likely that the rain washed away the bloom which opens the door for bacteria to enter through the pores.  The eggs do have an additional defense, proteolytic enzymes in the whites break up proteins in the cell membranes of gram-negative bacteria.  Listeria is gram positive bacteria that loves cool wet conditions that would still be a risk.  Salmonella is also the obvious known hazard.  I have heard the advice not to eat eggs that have been out in wet and cool conditions.  The smell test is a good one especially during hot weather however since there are a lot of unknowns in your situation I recommend not risking it.   
 
Ron Helwig
Posts: 109
Location: New Hampshire
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We feed eggs of unknown safety to our pigs, after hard boiling them. They love them.

If you don't have pigs, you might consider them as treats for your dog.
 
Virginia Ratliff
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Location: Bartow County GA
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My ducks are famous for moving their nesting site...! I do not wash my eggs either and when I run into a clutch that has been sitting for I am not sure how long, I also just crack them one at a time into a separate bowl. And, if they look and smell okay we use them. I do save those for family use only, I never give away or sell those eggs. I've had ducks for almost 3 years and added chickens this spring...love my birds more every day!
 
Krofter Young
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Location: Baja Arizona
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Lindsy - I've had this happen a number of times.  Crack them one at a time into a small bowl.  That way if you come across a bad one it'll be separate from the others.  Your nose and eyes will let you know which are bad.   Chances are most of the eggs will be good.  The amounts of salmonella or other contaminants will be very small and will typically only be an issue for folks with weak immune systems.  Heed the advice to not wash eggs.  I've been cracking my unwashed raw eggs right into my smoothies for many years.  I'm still breathing.  Immune systems are meant to be exercised.  The only time I a wash an egg is when I'm going to eat the shell (also blended into a smoothie).  I feed questionable eggs (as well as good ones) to the pigs (also raw), shell and all.
 
Annie Lochte
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Where I come from those are called 'yard eggs' an ive eaten um for 50+ years with never any ill effects. If they are clean looking, don't float, an look ok cracked into a custard dish before adding to what ever there going in, I eat them..... Any that are soiled or questionable go to the dogs/pig/compost pile.
 
Bill Erickson
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I'll add my 2 cents in and agree with all the above folks who say to crack them into a separate dish one at a time. I sometimes catch one that passed the "sink" test that way. If I get a large number of nasties from a batch, then it is boil them and feed them to the mutts, since I don't have pigs right now.
 
Lindsey Jane
Posts: 19
Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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Now y'all got me wanting pigs!!

Well, guinea hogs - but that's a topic for another thread...

I LOVE all the input - thanks so much! I agree with the cracking into a bowl and scoping them out one by one. I can handle that.

You know, we used to be militant about washing eggs all those years ago when we first started, but now we just leave them on the counter top in my pretty ceramic egg dish and use them from there. Half the time they look lovely and clean so I never wash them, but boy howdy - if they are covered in poo bits and a random feather, they get a quick scrubbing under the tap, for sure.

By the by - I haven't been sick in AGES. I credit our farm, the unwashed eggs, the homegrown produce and good dose of daily tromping around the acreage for keeping the old immune system in tip top condition. I stopped to think about that after reading Krofter's comment and I had to laugh. I hadn't been paying attention to how healthy we have all been since buying our farm.

Now I gotta go out and scour the woods looking for more eggs b/c those nervous nellies moved their nest AGAIN. Time for me to get started on a more secure chicken run!!
 
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