It’s never bothered me to pick a peach or plum off the tree and just take a bite, or grab a cucumber off the vine and munch away. The same goes with our fresh pasture raised eggs!
Eggs are quite a marvel, if you think about it. They have been long recognized as a source of high quality protein and when hens are pasture raised, fed properly and allowed to roam and forage, your egg just gained exponentially significant nutritional value. Pasture raised eggs’ color, flavor and texture contain high amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K2, B-12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, beta carotene, choline, and tons of omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, EPA, ALA, and AA. It is truly a perfect food right after mother’s milk for her infant child.
So what happens when poop gets on your egg? Well, wash it of course! I wish it were that easy. When it comes to washing an egg, there is much more to just running it under some soapy water or rinsing it off.
A “bloom” is a a micro barrier that was perfectly designed by our Lord to protect potential baby chicks and to keep their surroundings safe and shielded from any nasty bits or pieces of droppings or other debris. Egg shells are porous and when exposed to cool water it actually creates a vacuum effect and pulls bacteria inside fast and furiously- think Dyson! Bacteria has a difficult time making its way in a dry egg, but a wet one….easy peasy!
The best was to avoid washing your eggs, is using preventative measures to ensure you get the cleanest eggs possible upon collection.
Here are a few preventative steps we take at Boca Family Micro Farms to make sure we get clean eggs upon collection :
1. Clean out nesting boxes on a regular basis:
Our gals get a change of soft pine shavings a couple of times a week. Under the pine shavings, straw pads are placed to provide extra cushioning for comfort and to protect eggs from breakage. We like to add herbs from our garden to make laying relaxing and pleasurable- lemon balm, mint, rosemary, lavender, oregano,marigold and basil are common herbs in our garden and our large harvest allows us to share plenty with our lovely ladies. Herbs not only provide a relaxing environment, they act as a a natural insecticide in nests keeping mites and other small critters away. They are also natural dewormers when snacked on. Herbs increase blood circulation, and are full natural antibiotic properties and some are thought to combat coccidiosis, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu and E. coli. Did we mention they just smell amazing ?
2. Don’t poop where you sleep (or nest)! If possible, ensure roosting bars are higher than your nesting areas or on the opposite side of your coop, if space allows. Typically, hens find the highest spot to roost at night. In our coop, we have nesting boxes on the opposite side of the roosting bars and keep boxes snug and cozy with little light to help hens relax as they prefer confined, dark, secluded and quiet places when they nest and lay eggs.
3. Collect your eggs regularly throughout the day. We our fortunate and blessed to have several professional egg collectors. Our kiddos race to the coop several times a day excited to discover an array of colors, shapes and sizes. They compare, share, and see who can collect the most eggs with each visit to the nest. We typically lose one during the excitement, but Leo, our Jack Russell Terrier, is aware of this repetitive behavior and is quick to lap up the messy goo.
What happens when you’ve done all the right things and you still get a dirty or pooped on egg? This is where you get really creative and have some fun with dirty eggs:
- Batting practice
- Practice your golf swing
- Play ping pong with someone you don’t care for and have them serve first
- WASH THEM or BUFF THEM !
If given a choice, and they are beyond help or a good light dry buffing/brushing off, it’s always good to wash them, but just how do you go about washing or cleaning them properly?
A Little Poo or a Lot of Poo?
1. Use Sandpaper/3M Paper– For small jobs, we keep a 3M green scrubby pad in our egg basket at all times and change it out regularly. We use the DRY scrubby to buff off the spots that need it and try and keep the bloom in tact as much as possible. Keep in mind, the bloom is a thin membrane, so only buff the areas that need it to preserve the integrity of this membrane.
2. Warm/Hot water, cold water is not cool! For jobs that require more than a dry buffing or cloth, you may want to wash your eggs. Be careful to wash the egg in WARM water. Do not let them sit or soak and use just enough warm water to get the job done and let them air dry. We always use our washed eggs BEFORE we use the unwashed eggs and we prefer to only sell or package those that made the cut. Once the bloom has been removed, the egg will loose its freshness much faster and is prone to absorbing any odors from the fridge. Ever had a fishy tasting egg? Yuk!
3. Should I use detergents/soaps/vinegars or bleach? We do not use any of these products on our eggs. Warm water does just fine and we choose to keep chemicals out of our foods. Most commercial operations will use a bleach solution on their eggs, but the unfortunate conditions commercial hens are placed in, deems it necessary due to such unsanitary and confined living conditions. Which brings me back to think…if in fact an egg’s surface acts as a vacuum, what is going in commercial eggs during their cleaning process?
In the end, I suppose it’s a matter of choice whether you feel more comfortable washing or not washing eggs prior to use. Thankfully, we rarely make that choice as our eggs are pretty clean to begin with. Egg washing is a last resort and only done if absolutely necessary.
Until next time, keep it real & eat local y’all!
The Texas Chick