The more you know about chicken egg anatomy, the more you can benefit from your eggs. Eggs are naturally covered with something called a cuticle or bloom. This cuticle protects the inside of the egg from any contaminants in the environment. An egg-shell can have as many as 17000 pores. Without the cuticle, bacteria or other harmful elements could enter the egg, causing it to rot rapidly. All commercial eggs are washed which causes the cuticle to be removed. This is why commercial eggs must be refrigerated.
I never wash my eggs, even if they are dirty. If there is a significant amount of debris on the egg, I will gently brush it off with a paper towel. However, I never get my eggs wet until I am ready to use them.
Because I never wash my eggs, I also never refrigerate them. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, if something tragic were to happen, like a fox or raccoon killing off my entire flock, I would be able to take those eggs and start incubating them right away. Many years ago I had a rooster I just loved. He was beautiful, smart and took good care of his hens. Something killed him, one day he simply was gone and never came back. I was quite sad but I knew I could preserve his good qualities by incubating and hatching out his fertilized eggs, which is exactly what I did. Three weeks later, I got a great batch of chickens!
The second reason I never refrigerate my eggs is because I love egg salad. If you have ever tried to peel a hard-boiled egg fresh from the farm, you’ll know that it is no easy task. The reason is the outer and inner shell membranes. In a fresh egg, those membranes connect the albumen (egg white) to the shell like glue. As an egg ages on the counter, those membranes separate and start to break down. If you wait about a week to boil your eggs, you’ll be able to peel them easily. In fact I put three dozen eggs on the stove to make egg salad just this morning!
One last note about egg anatomy that will help you out. If you have many eggs on your counter and you don’t know if some might be too old to eat, there is a simple test you can do. As eggs age, the air cell on the fat end of the egg grows. If your egg is quite old, this will cause the egg to float in water. So take a pitcher of water and put in all your suspect eggs. Some will lay flat, which means they are fresh. Some will begin to tilt up or be totally fat end up, but still touching the bottom of the picture. These are great for hard boiling. If they are floating, I would suggest you scramble them up and give them to your dogs.
There are many more implications of egg anatomy I may share in a future post. If you have any tips or questions, feel free to leave them below in the comments section.