Eggs are a staple in many households around the world. They are a versatile food item and can be used in a variety of recipes. But what happens when you accidentally leave eggs out of the fridge for a few hours, or even a few days? Is it safe to eat them, or should you throw them out?
In this article, I’ll be exploring the shelf life of unrefrigerated eggs and answering some commonly asked questions.
How long can unrefrigerated eggs last?
When it comes to unrefrigerated eggs, the answer isn’t straightforward. The shelf life of eggs depends on a few factors, including their age and the temperature at which they are stored. In general, fresh eggs can be left unrefrigerated for a short period of time, while older eggs should be refrigerated as soon as possible.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eggs can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After 2 hours, they should be refrigerated to prevent bacteria growth. This is because eggs are porous, which means they can absorb odors and bacteria from their surroundings.
If you’re not sure how long your eggs have been left unrefrigerated, there are a few ways to test their freshness. One way is to perform the float test. Simply place the egg in a bowl of water. If it sinks to the bottom and lies flat, it’s fresh. If it floats to the top or stands upright, it’s no longer fresh and should be discarded.
Another way to test the freshness of your eggs is to crack them open and examine the yolk and white. Fresh eggs have a firm yolk and a thick white, while older eggs have a flatter yolk and a thinner white.
Can unrefrigerated eggs be safe to eat?
While the USDA recommends refrigerating eggs to prevent bacteria growth, some countries such as Japan and many European countries store eggs at room temperature without refrigeration. The key to safely consuming unrefrigerated eggs is to make sure they are fresh and have not been left at room temperature for too long.
It’s also important to cook eggs thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm. This can help kill any bacteria that may be present.
Additionally, if you plan on using unrefrigerated eggs in recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise or aioli, it’s important to use pasteurized eggs to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
What about eggs sold unrefrigerated?
In some countries, eggs are sold unrefrigerated at room temperature. This is because they are often produced and sold locally, reducing the amount of time they spend in transit and on store shelves. These eggs are usually fresh and can be safely consumed if stored properly.
If you’re unsure about the safety of unrefrigerated eggs, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and refrigerate them as soon as possible. This can help prevent bacteria growth and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
In conclusion, the shelf life of unrefrigerated eggs depends on a few factors, including their age and the temperature at which they are stored. Fresh eggs can be left at room temperature for a short period of time, while older eggs should be refrigerated as soon as possible. If you’re not sure how long your eggs have been left unrefrigerated, there are a few ways to test their freshness.