Like many of you, eggs are a part of my daily life.
I collect, carry and store them. I clean, box & sell them. I fill up the Egg Shack most days, and I poach and eat them most mornings. Luckily, I absolutely love eggs!
If you have a couple of hens in the garden and you’re not sure what you can and can’t do with those eggs, hopefully you’ll enjoy this little mini series on all things eggy!
Every book or bore on the subject tells you that you should only ever get clean eggs from the nest box.
But the reality is that it rains a lot in Cornwall, it gets muddy and so do my chickens feet. They have to stand in the nest, to be able to sit in the nest, to lay you an egg. Occasionally mine even poop in a nest box.
I know. I know. So shoot me.
Here’s how to clean those eggs if you are another bad chicken owner like me…
1/ Keep a scourer purely for the job of cleaning eggs. I only use red scourers for egg duty, so should one happen to be left in the sink, Jonny wouldn’t use it to scrub his breakfast bowl. I have heard of people using sandpaper to scratch off any debris, but I haven’t tried that myself.
2/ I use the green, scratchy side of the scourer to remove as much muck as possible. Keep it dry and you’ll find most just brushes off. Dampen one corner to remove any stubborn bits.
3/ If some eggs are caked in muck, you have no choice but to wash them. I use a plastic egg box, washing each egg carefully in the kitchen sink, stand it in the egg box to drain, and then dry each one with kitchen roll. I keep these eggs for my family. However, when you wash an egg, you remove the eggs protective barrier called the ‘bloom’. This slows down moisture loss from the egg (making it stay fresher longer) and prevents bacteria getting in through the pores in the shell.
4/ Some cracks are obvious, but some eggs just ‘feel’ different. Give those ones a gentle squeeze and you’ll normally find they have a fine crack. We feed cracked eggs to our ferrets, but there is nothing stopping you from eating them. Just don’t sell them, and use them up yourself within 48 hours. (Legalities here)
5/ If you have less than 50 hens, you do not have to register with Animal Health and you are not required to grade your eggs which means you are legally allowed to sell eggs that have been cleaned. (Just so as you know, if you do have to grade your eggs, Class A eggs are the only eggs that may be sold to customers, and these eggs must come out of the nest box clean (ie they must undergo no cleaning at all).
6/ As for egg boxes, you can buy new ones (our local animal feed store sells them) but I’d far rather beg them from friends.
PS We have had hens all my life. My Dad would wash every egg in cold water, we’d eat cracked ones and those covered in dirt and we never had anyone getting sick from them. Do what you like with the eggs you plan to eat, but if you are selling any, it’s best to stick to the regulations.