Bloom

Jul
25


I had a conversation recently with someone whose new chickens had just started laying. They were about to throw out some eggs because they hadn’t had time to wash them after collecting them, and they hadn’t refrigerated them, either. I said, “They’re still okay. They have the bloom.”

They were mystified, and I had to explain, which made me think I ought to write a post about it for any new chicken keepers out there who haven’t heard of bloom. It’s not a flower.

According to Chickens in Your Back Yard: A Beginner’s Guide by Rick and Gail Luttman, “When an egg is laid it has a slimy wet covering called the bloom that has eased the egg’s passage through the oviduct.” In Living with Chickens by Jay Rossier, the author states, “You can’t see the bloom, but it is another deterrent to bacteria that would enter through the pores of the shell, and it helps keep moisture in.” In Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, it further notes that “When you wash an egg, the bloom dissolves, making the egg feel temporarily slippery.”

It’s always optimal to collect eggs daily, clean them, and refrigerate them as quickly as possible. The reason for that is because an egg kept at room temperature ages the same in one day that an egg in the refrigerator ages in one week. However, an egg left out doesn’t immediately go bad. If that were so, we would only know chickens from their skeletal remains at archaeological sites. A hen typically lays for a few weeks before setting a nest.

How do all the eggs stay fresh, at ambient temperature, until the hen goes broody and begins the incubation process?

The bloom!

From the first egg laid to the last, they start the incubation on the same day and hatch within hours of one another because the first egg was as fresh as the last, protected by Nature’s coating, when the hen was ready to sit.

Nature is always pretty amazing.

The protection the bloom offers works as well for our purposes as it does for the hen. As long as eggs remain unwashed, with the bloom intact, they will stay fresh not just for days but even for weeks. I’m not advocating collecting eggs on a bi-monthly basis, but there’s certainly no need to panic if you don’t refrigerate every egg as quickly as you collect it, or don’t even collect every single day. Just remember that as soon as you do wash an egg, you’ve removed the bloom and it should be refrigerated immediately.

And take a tip from the chickens.
IMG_8546
Don’t worry, be happy.





Comments

  1. bonita says:

    Thanks for this post Suzanne. I may never have chickens of my own, but you’ve explained a lot I did not understand about keeping eggs fresh in the barnyard. And why, in ye olde days–before refrigerators–it was okay to keep just-gathered (unwashed) eggs on the kitchen table for a few days.

  2. jfdavidson says:

    YOU ARE SO RIGHT. IN ITALY AND OTHER PLACES IN EUROPE THE EGGS ARE JUST ON THE SHELF IN THE GROCERY STORES. THEY ARE NEVER REFRIGERATED. I LET THEM SIT ON MY COUNTER FOR A DAY OR SO TO USE AND THEN REFRIGERATE WHEN THERE GETS TO BE TOO MANY. THEY ARE FINE FOR DAYS. HOWEVER I HAVE HEARD THAT ONCE YOU REFRIGERATE YOU MUST KEEP THEM COLD.

  3. brookdale says:

    My grandmother always kept the fresh eggs in a blue bowl on the counter. I used to wonder why she didn’t refrigerate them but never asked. And, finally, now I know. Interesting info. I always learn something new here!

  4. nookworm says:

    Yes, my grandmother and my mother both kept eggs in the pantry before washing them, but they never explained why. Now I know. Thanks!

  5. mashell says:

    Hey All,

    We collect our eggs daily, we don’t wash them if they can be brushed clean and set them on the counter. A book called “Stocking Up” copyrighted 1977 states that they will last for a month on the counter and for three months in the frig. If you don’t wash them and they are clean with no blemishes scrapes or nicks you can coat them in mineral oil (must be done within 24 hours of being laid)and set them in a cool dark place for up to 4 or 5 months. After 6 months they start drying out and tasting different. You can also scramble and freeze for winter baking, omelets and scrambled egg breakfasts. I do this during the summer when we get more then we can eat. I NEVER buy eggs. :snoopy:

  6. CarrieJ says:

    Great post and very timely! I got my first 6 hens and they will start laying in September. I knew not to wash the coating off but I didn’t know why.

  7. KellieS says:

    A few years ago we spent 18 months traveling around the South Pacific. In many other countries eggs are never refrigerated. You buy them on the shelf in the store or market. The trick is that once they are refrigerated they must stay refrigerated to be safe. You cannot take store bought refrigerated eggs and leave them on your counter at home. My chickens are free range, so I occasionally find a nest that they kept hidden from me and I don’t know how old the eggs are. To check the freshness of an egg, put the egg in a container of water(I use a clear glass 4c measure cup). If the egg lays on the bottom on it’s side, it is fresh. If the large end starts to float, use it right away, and if it floats to the surface of the water, throw it away.

  8. justdeborah2002 says:

    It is funny. In Europe, it is illegal and considered unhygienic to wash the bloom off eggs and store them in the refrigerator. Of course, eggs in Europe have only a several week shelf life.

    And in North America it is illegal and considered unhygienic to NOT wash the bloom off eggs and to NOT store them in the refrigerator. Eggs in North America have a shelf life of many months.

    Both for food safety reasons.

  9. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    I never knew the whys and wherefores, but while growing up our eggs were gathered daily and kept in a woven basket on the counter in the kitchen. Never had to worry about one ruining. We used a goodly number of them, so they didn’t have much chance to spoil.

  10. Flatlander says:

    I am from Europe lived there for 37 years and indeed, eggs are on the shelve, not refrigerated.
    I still never refrigerate my eggs, rinse them in water if there are dirty, won’t happen to often, because I have enough wood-shaving in the nesting boxes,and let them dry..tuck them in egg cartons and store them in my pantry.

    When you put them in the fridge..the pores open..and if you put the out on the counter,.the pores won’t close.(and ages faster)

    So both ways are good…as long as one or the other method is used and not both for the same eggs.

  11. renee on the move says:

    Thanks so much for the great explanation-just found out where my birds have been hiding their eggs for the past week & made hubby help me carry them in-he wondered if they were still “OK.” I sat him down & had him read your post. Wonderful timing & much better than I could have said it! Thanks!

  12. NancyL says:

    What a fantastic post! I, too, have never and will never have chickens, but I have often wondered why you keep eggs out. Did not know about the bloom. Of course, I buy mine from the store, refrigerated, and keep them that way. But I don’t use them fast enough for the expiration date on the carton – why do they have those dates if they will be good long after? At least now, thanks to KellieS, I know how to test them instead of just throwing them out after a specific date!

    Nancy in Iowa

  13. oct4luv says:

    Very informative! Someday I will have chickens… :chicken:

  14. Astrid says:

    Hi!

    This is my first comment here!
    The description of what the bloom does to eggs reminded me on an old method to preserve them without refrigeration – dip them in waterglass/sodium silicate. That used to be very common in Europe to have eggs for the winter.
    Basically, the waterglass closes the pores in the eggshell.
    Here’s a link about this:
    http://standeyo.com/News_Files/Food/storing_eggs.html

Add Your Thoughts