Handling and Storing Eggs

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Producers handle eggs in ways that are meant to slow down the inevitable deterioration in quality. Eggs are gathered as shortly after laying as possible and immediately cooled. In the United States, they are then washed in warm water and detergent to remove the thousands of bacteria deposited on the shell during its passage through the hen’s cloacal opening. In the past, the washed eggs were given a fresh coat of mineral oil to retard the loss of both CO2 and moisture; today, with most eggs getting to market just two days after laying and refrigerated during shipping as well as storage, oiling is limited to long-haul delivery routes.