Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
We are selling fresh farm eggs to a few friends. I do not wash or refrigerate them. This has been a HUGE adjustment in mindset for my city friends. They are having such a hard time getting comfortable with room temperature eggs. I don't have the refrigerator space to keep a large amount of eggs cool and I really don't want to become an egg washer.
I can't speak for where you are but here in England (and throughout Europe) eggs normally aren't washed or refrigerated - even in the large supermarkets they're sold on the shelf, next to flour and baking supplies in our local Tesco. The idea is that if you were to wash them you're washing any muck into the egg, since the shell is porous - and then you really DO need to refrigerate them as a contamination threat has been introduced. But then the shell and egg will absorb flavours of whatever they're in there with.
We also raise our own hens for egg consumption and our friend in the village has hens and sells loads of eggs from outside his door on an honesty box system. His box isn't refrigerated but does sit in the shade and is protected from the elements. I have an egg-mobile (stand thing) in the kitchen and eggs can sit there for a couple of weeks no problem, probably longer. They need to be at a consistent temp (never on the fridge door). Frying an egg stored in the fridge apparently causes the egg to 'spit'. One sure fire test for anyone nervous is to pop the egg into a glass of water - if it sinks it's fine, if it floats it's gone off (air pocket expands as the egg contents shrink, which happens when they're old). Turning them will also extend their life. Hope this helps!
I sell my eggs and they are gathered each day at the end of the day, are unwashed except for obvious marks that are wiped off with a damp cloth, and are kept on the counter for up to two weeks(and more!)~even in the summer. They aren't in direct sunlight and we don't live in a hot, humid area but temps do get into the 90s on occasion.
None of my customers inquire as to how I keep my eggs, nor do I explain. This is the way I keep them out of preference and not due to minimal space. I never refrigerate my own eggs for my own use, so my use is a test of the taste and freshness. If I thought it was dangerous, I wouldn't eat them nor sell them.
In over 6 years I've never had one complaint about my eggs and I have steady, repeat customers so my eggs don't really linger long.
Everyone does things in their own way. Here is what I do....
I have 20 layers and I gather eggs about mid morning and again in the last evenings light. And I do this because the sooner I collect them the cleaner they are. I will collect them on the kitchen counter for a couple of days, but then I turn the sink water on till I think it is over 95 degrees ( this is suppose to expand the pores and keep them more safe from bacteria) I rinse each one then dry each one and put them in a carton which then goes in the spare garage refidgerator. Once the "bloom" is washed off they are no longer protected from the outside world. But I wouldn't want to buy dirty eggs with visiable poo on them and I assume my egg customers wouldn't want to either. They will keep in the fridge for a month or so, but I try to keep them moving every week. If they start to get older, more than a couple of weeks, I start eating lots of egg salad.
Unwashed eggs have a natural "good bacteria" and it is best not to wash them. Anyone who has ever tried to hard boil and peel a fresh egg knows why we leave them on the kitchen counter awhile!
My mother got upset once because I left the eggs out so she decided to test them. She could not remember if the good ones sank or floated so she got a store bought egg and tested it. The store bought floated and mine sank so she decided the floaters were the fresh ones....mine were bad. Her comment was that " everyone knows a store bought egg is fresh!!!!" I still tease her about this.....Mom is a city girl! She has been trying to put ribbons in my hair for 50 years!!!!!!
My husband's grandma sold eggs for years. She had a cool closet, not refridgerated, that she kept her eggs in, I am not sure how long they would be in there as she was the only one who sold eggs in her area. I sell eggs also. We gather twice a day morning and evening, knocking off any "chunks" with a paper towel. We refridgerate our eggs, unwashed, until the customer comes, then we wash in luke warm water only if necessary. My husband works away from home. He NEVER refridgerates his eggs. He leaves them on the counter. He will take an 18 pack and leave them there until they are gone. He eats 1 to 2 eggs a day, five days a week, and is home on weekends. If you do the math and he only eats one egg a day he leaves them out for almost a month at a time. (Well the last egg anyway.)
Bottom line is what do your customer's want? I mean you can try to educate your customers and stick to your guns all you want, but if you lose customers because you refuse to wash and refrigerate, then that only hurts YOU in the long run. I would rather have a steady customer base and have to spend some time washing the eggs, than trying to figure out what to do with all the extra eggs left over. That's just my two sense. I am a chef at a restaurant and we buy local ingredients all the time from as many local farmers as possible. If the purveyors don't bring in the stuff washed and cleaned (including eggs) I buy from somebody else who does.
You can buy disinfected and refrigerated eggs from the store, so why buy from private vendors? That farm freshness, the intact bloom and the lack of fridge odors/tastes is exactly WHY I have repeat customers. My customers never have to ask if my eggs have been cleansed to USDA standards or kept at a certain temp because they only care about freshness, appearance(no visible dirt/smudges) and taste~and my eggs have all that and more.
Congrats J Green, that you have customers who buy your eggs the way you like to offer them. Mrs. MacDonald specifically stated that her customers weren't keen on the idea on unrefrigerated eggs. Sometimes, in a business, you have to give the customers what they want, even if its not something you think needs to happen. And honestly, a little scrub and refrigeration does NOT get rid of the reason why people are buying farmfresh eggs.
I guess the key is "What they don't know cannot hurt them." I've never been questioned about my eggs nor do I volunteer any information. Maybe the OP could just let the eggs do all the talking?
Along with vegetables I sell artisan breads at the local market. One time I had a very angry man who complained that my bread was not sliced. " I will just have to buy my bread from the grocery store then....at least they bother to slice it!" I am sure his anger had another source other than my bread. But my point is.....some people are just not the right customers for what we are selling.
My eggs are clean because my nesting boxes are clean, and they are perfectly safe outside of the fridge. There are people out there who truly believe that ONLY grocery store chains have good fresh food. You can try and educate people but in the long run they are going to believe what they want to. Find customers who want what you are selling and will APPRECIATE it!
Of course, do what works for you ! I will say that you are extremely lucky! In my neck of the woods, the local food scene is fairly new, less than 10 years old, and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome in people's thinking. It's crazy how many people think that I am a "cutting edge chef" because I serve beautiful, locally grown/raised products and I minimally "cook" them. I do my best NOT to cover up the natural flavors, just enhance them. But people still want their cream sauces etc. that completely hides the flavor of grass fed beef, etc. I've lost a lot of money by trying to get people to think like me versus giving them what they want. I've seemed to have found a good balance over the last year and I have had to compromise a bit. Cheers!
I understand your perspective. You asked on another forum, I think, for farmers who had been successful if they would share there experiences. I am willing to bet that you will hear the same theme repeated.
Do not over do the infastructure of your farm. Do not go into a new venture, spend a bunch of capital, and then complain that "farming don't pay." For someone who sells a small amount of eggs each week the cost of a fridge would take away her profits for a long time. People have been eating eggs long before refridgeration was invented....and they do use freon, as well as energy to operate. Now if a farmer is running 300 layers and has the customers who will pay the price to support their being kept in a fridge, and thats what they want, then that is a different story. But like many.....I do a lot of small enterprises that ad up to my being able to make a living...and I do that by keeping it simple.
As a farmer I appreciate chefs like yourself who help to educate people and serve quality. The farmer chef relationship is important.