How long can fresh eggs be left unrefrigerated?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “how long can fresh eggs be left unrefrigerated?”, discuss how to tell if eggs are gone bad, and what to do with old eggs.

How long can fresh eggs be left unrefrigerated?

Fresh eggs can be left unrefrigerated at room temperature, no more than 2-3 weeks. This duration is recommended to maintain the optimal eating quality of fresh eggs.

Why is it important to refrigerate eggs?

It is important to refrigerate eggs due to two reasons, explained below:

  • Protein degradation

Eggs stored at room temperature will degrade more quickly than those stored in the refrigerator. Because as eggs age, their protein structure degrades. This causes older egg whites to become runnier, and the yolks to stand less round and tall. The warmer the room temperature, the more this is true. So it is better to keep the eggs in the refrigerator than to keep them in the kitchen.

  • Bacterial growth

Storing eggs at home temperature encourages bacterial growth. Eggs are particularly more susceptible to one particularly nasty bacteria, named Salmonella. This bacteria can be a reason for a very severe form of food poisoning, with symptoms developing from 12-72 hours after infection.

How to tell if eggs are gone bad?

Eggs can easily go bad if they are not stored properly. To check whether an egg is good to be used or not, consider the following points:

  • Expiration date

If you have kept eggs in their original carton, you can check for the expiration date to see whether the eggs are gone bad or are still good to be used.

  • Smell test

The smell test is the simplest and most reliable way to tell whether an egg has gone bad or not. A bad egg will give off a foul odor when cracked. This smell will be present even after the egg has been cooked.

  • Visual inspection 

One of the simplest ways to tell if the eggs are gone bad or not is the visual inspection. Don’t cook the eggs if:

There is a crack in the shell

There is a powdery substance on the shell

The shell is looking or seeming slimy

  • Float test

The float test is a quick and easy way to check the freshness of an egg. For this, place an egg in a bowl of water. If the egg stays at the bottom, it is fresh, and if the egg stands on its end, it is not fresh (older egg).

  • Candling 

Candling involves the use of bright light to examine eggs for signs of cracking and interior defects.

What happens if you eat bad eggs?

The main risk of eating bad eggs is to be the victim of food poisoning due to Salmonella infection. Salmonella, a gram-negative bacteria, can grow both on the shell and inside the yolk and egg white. Symptoms of Salmonella based food poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting.

These symptoms usually develop 6-48 hours after eating a contaminated egg and last for about 4-7 days.

What can you do with old eggs?

Older eggs are ideal for boiling. They are a good choice for hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, or egg salad. Older eggs can also be used for scrambled eggs, omelets, casseroles, or quiches.

How to store eggs?

To keep the eggs fresh for a long period, store them in their original carton because:

  • The carton protects the eggs and prevents the eggs from absorbing the strong odors and flavors of other foods in your fridge through the thousands of tiny pores in the eggshell.
  • The best-by date is always visible to you so you can guarantee freshness.

Eggs should always be stored with the large end up, the same way they are packaged in the carton, to help the yolk remain centered.

Do not store eggs in the door of the refrigerator but store them in the main body of the refrigerator. This will ensure that they keep a consistent and cool temperature.

Leftover raw egg whites and yolk should be kept in air-tight containers and stored in the refrigerator immediately. To prevent yolks from drying out, cover them with a little cold water and drain this water before using the yolk.

How long can eggs be stored?

Different forms of the egg can be stored for a different period. Here is a quick description of the recommended storage time:

                Form of egg    Recommended storage time
Fresh shell eggsBy best-before date
Leftover yolks or whitesWithin 2-4 days
Hard-boiled eggsWithin 1 week
Prepared egg dishesWithin 3-4 days
Pickled eggsWithin 1 month
Frozen whole eggs (blended)Within 4 months

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long can fresh eggs be left unrefrigerated?”, discussed how to tell if eggs are gone bad, and what to do with old eggs.

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