Eggs are a staple in many households, whether you’re baking a cake, making breakfast, or preparing a delicious quiche. However, one question that often comes up is how long can eggs sit out before they go bad? In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of eggs, the importance of refrigeration, signs of spoiled eggs, how to properly store eggs, and the importance of egg safety.
Room Temperature Storage
Eggs are often sold at room temperature, and you may be tempted to store them on the kitchen counter. However, eggs can only be stored at room temperature for a limited amount of time. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eggs should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
It’s important to note that the two-hour rule applies to eggs that are still in their shells. Once you crack an egg, it should be refrigerated immediately and used within two hours. If you leave cracked eggs out at room temperature for too long, harmful bacteria can grow, which can cause foodborne illness.
The shelf life of eggs can be affected by several factors, such as temperature, humidity, and the age of the eggs. For example, if you live in a hot and humid environment, eggs may spoil faster than if you live in a cooler climate. Similarly, if you buy eggs that are close to their expiration date, they may not last as long as fresher eggs.
Why Refrigeration is Recommended
While eggs can be stored at room temperature, it’s recommended to keep them in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. According to the USDA, eggs should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below. When eggs are refrigerated, it slows down the growth of bacteria, which can help prevent spoilage.
It’s also important to note that eggs should be stored in the main part of the refrigerator, rather than in the door. The temperature in the door can fluctuate, which can affect the shelf life of the eggs. Additionally, it’s a good idea to store eggs in their original carton, as it can help protect them from absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.
Signs of Spoiled Eggs
It’s important to know how to tell if eggs have gone bad, as consuming spoiled eggs can make you sick. Some signs that eggs have gone bad include:
- Cracks in the shell
- Discoloration or a cloudy appearance
- An unusual odor
- Sliminess or a sticky texture
- Floats in water (fresh eggs will sink to the bottom)
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the egg and not consume it.
Storing Eggs in the Refrigerator
When storing eggs in the refrigerator, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Store eggs in their original carton to protect them from absorbing odors from other foods.
- Don’t wash eggs before storing them, as it can remove the protective coating and increase the risk of contamination.
- Place eggs in the main part of the refrigerator, rather than in the door.
- Don’t freeze eggs in their shells, as it can cause the shells to crack and allow bacteria to enter the egg.
- If you need to freeze eggs, crack them into a bowl, whisk them, and then freeze them in an airtight container.
- When using refrigerated eggs, it’s a good idea to let them come to room temperature before cooking with them, as it can help them cook more evenly.
The Importance of Egg Safety
Egg safety is important for preventing foodborne illness. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can be found on the outside of egg shells and inside the egg. If eggs are not handled and cooked properly, the bacteria can grow and cause illness. Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
To reduce the risk of salmonella, it’s important to follow these guidelines:
- Store eggs in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below.
- Wash your hands before and after handling eggs.
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked eggs, as they can contain harmful bacteria.
- Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
- Use pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs.
By following these guidelines, you can reduce the risk of salmonella and other types of foodborne illness.
So, how long can eggs sit out? Eggs should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
While eggs can be stored at room temperature, it’s recommended to keep them in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. Signs of spoiled eggs include cracks in the shell, discoloration or a cloudy appearance, an unusual odor, sliminess or a sticky texture, and floating in water.
To store eggs properly, keep them in their original carton, place them in the main part of the refrigerator, and don’t wash them before storing. Egg safety is important for preventing foodborne illness, and it’s important to follow guidelines such as storing eggs in the refrigerator and cooking eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
By following these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious and safe eggs!