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On how to wash eggs


I wish I had known a year ago that there are guides from the experts on how to wash eggs from backyard chickens. I had been doing it wrong. For one, I had assumed that cold water was better, to avoid heating the egg. Wrong.

If you Google for egg-washing, you’ll find lots of often contradictory opinions. There are many people who say that you shouldn’t wash eggs at all. However, I think I’ll go with the university people on this. The University of Nebraska has published a guide meant particularly for people with backyard chickens. There’s also a PDF version of the guide.

Hot water (90F to 120F) is best because eggs are porous (that’s how the chicks get air before they hatch). Cold water causes the contents of the egg to contract, potentially pulling in microbes through the pores. Hot water causes the contents of the egg to expand, pushing microbes out of the pores. The eggs should not be soaked. They should be kept in the water only for the time it takes to wash them. And yes, it’s OK to use a weak bleach solution to sanitize the egg, as I had been doing.

Another brilliant idea that I learned from Googling: Use a pencil to write the date on each egg. Though I’ve always rotated my eggs, it’s a very good thing to have dates on the eggs.

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