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Farm-Fresh Eggs vs. Store-Bought | Taste, Shelf-Life, and Storage!

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What came first? The chicken or the egg? – That’s the age-old question. But there’s one question more vital for homesteaders who love eating fresh eggs daily. The question is – are farm-fresh eggs better than store-bought eggs? We are diving into this question and cracking open the facts of farm-fresh eggs vs. store-bought.

Which eggs taste better? Which is healthier? And which lasts longer? These are the questions we’ll brainstorm.

Sound fun?

Then let’s continue!

Farm Fresh Eggs vs. Store-Bought

collecting chicken eggs on the organic poultry farm
We believe that farm-fresh eggs always taste superior to store-bought eggs. But that’s not the only reason we prefer local backyard eggs! We also care about the chicken‘s welfare and quality of life. We find that many backyard farmers treat their chickens like family. They respect their coop, let hens free-range, and give them attentive care. Compare this high-quality lifestyle to many battery chicken farms, where the chickens live in deplorable conditions, without free-range space or humane living quarters. That’s why we almost always support local chicken farmers. Even if we can’t prove without a doubt that their eggs have more nutrients, we believe that cruelty-free eggs always taste better! 🙂

Some of our homesteading friends swear that backyard, pastured, and free-range eggs are superior to regular commercial or store-bought eggs – in taste, quality, and shelf life.

But is that true?

Let’s dive closer into the details.

(Get your frying pans ready. And some whole wheat toast!)

Are Farm-Fresh or Free-Range Eggs Better Than Store-Bought?

We think so – yes! Most homesteaders would agree that fresh, free-range eggs from the farm taste better than their store-bought counterparts. Others might say there is no such huge difference. But we disagree! Fresh eggs feature deep orange yolks. And many egg fans swear free-range eggs taste better and are more robust.

(It’s impossible to prove that free-range eggs taste better. But we believe they do!)

Free-range eggs also seemingly contain more nutrients and essential vitamins, including omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, and vitamins A, E, and D. But egg quality always depends on the hen’s diet. If the eggs are from chickens living on a sunny free-range or pastured farm, she will eat fresh insects, greens, corn, flowers, or other forage crops, hopefully boosting nutritional levels.

Comparing the Shelf-Life of Farm-Fresh Eggs vs. Store-Bought

Farm-fresh eggs from free-range chickens will last several weeks to over a month if stored properly. If unwashed, they will last up to three months in the refrigerator. This is due to protective bloom, a natural coating found on the shell. Store-bought eggs are often a few weeks old (or older) when you purchase them and have already gotten washed. They will last about five weeks in the refrigerator after the purchase date.

Are Farm-Fresh Eggs Safer Than Store-Bought?

Not necessarily. We’ve sampled eggs from dozens of small homesteaders and local farmers from all over the world. We’ve also devoured plenty of eggs from the big box stores – including BJs, Walmart, Costco, and more. The point is that we’ve never gotten sick from any of the eggs. In our experience, all fresh eggs are generally safe to eat – as long as they don’t emit a foul odor and as long as you cook them thoroughly. 

Food safety should always be a priority. Farm-fresh and store-bought eggs could also get bacteria. It is always wise to wash your hands before and after handling the eggs, cooking them, and storing them properly.

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Do You Need to Wash Farm Fresh Eggs?

Not really. We never wash our farm-fresh eggs until right before we use them. Washing removes the bloom, or cuticle, a protective coating that helps keep bacteria from permeating the shell. 

(If there are blatant chicken droppings or feathers on the eggs, you can safely remove those using a soft, dry towel.)

Farm-Fresh Egg Shelf-Life and Storage

buying some fresh and yummy chicken eggs at the local farm market
You can easily keep farm-fresh eggs on your kitchen counter for several weeks at room temperature – but only if you keep the egg cuticle in place! Washed eggs should always go in the fridge – including eggs you buy in the store. Remember that commercial eggs always have the cuticle washed off. Once in the refrigerator, we store eggs for around one to two months – or slightly longer. After that, we consider chucking them. Eggs don’t usually last more than a month on our homestead anyway – somebody always eats them! You can also consider freezing your eggs for long-term storage if you have too many eggs and don’t want to sell them.

A batch of farm-fresh unwashed eggs is safe at room temperature for about two weeks. However, they will last up to three months in the refrigerator. Here’s a little-known freshness extension tip! Store farm fresh eggs pointed side down to keep the yolks centered and the air cell at the top.

Chicken Egg StyleShelf-Life and Storage Tips
Fresh Eggs With Cuticle:Two weeks at room temperature, up to three months in the refrigerator.
Fresh Eggs Without Cuticle:Up to two months in the refrigerator.
Commercial Eggs:Up to five weeks in the refrigerator. (Remember that commercial eggs are often older than local eggs!)
How Long Do Farm-Fresh Eggs vs. Commercial Eggs Last?

Cleaning Farm-Fresh Eggs

Backyard chicken farm fresh eggs may have dirt, dust, and even chicken poop on the shell. Clean the fresh eggs with a dry brush or sandpaper if you want to try to avoid removing the bloom. If you must wash them, use warm water and pat them dry immediately.

(Even if you wash the eggs with sandpaper or a dry brush – you remove some of the bloom. If you want to leave the cuticle bloom intact – disturb them as little as possible.)

You can also clean the eggs thoroughly. But this will remove the bloom. And then, you must place them in the fridge! Cleaning the eggs is straightforward. Wash farm-fresh eggs under warm water, not cold water, dry them, and store them in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria growth.

Refrigerating Farm-Fresh Eggs vs. Store Bought Eggs

Farm-fresh eggs don’t need to get refrigerated because of the bloom. The bloom can keep fresh eggs safe at room temperature for a few weeks. The egg bloom (or cuticle) is a natural protective layer that prevents bacteria from entering the egg. However, refrigeration is necessary if you wash the coating off.

Using the Egg Float Test to See If Your Eggs Are Fresh

testing chicken egg freshness by dunking them in water beakers
Our Grandmother used to tell us that you can tell if an egg is new by tossing it in a water jug. If the egg floats – it’s old. And if it sinks – it’s still fresh. But why do old eggs float? Because the egg’s air cell grows as it ages. The enlarged air cell increases the egg’s buoyancy. That said – just because an egg floats – doesn’t mean you should throw it out. The best way to know if the egg is still edible is to crack it into a bowl. If you notice an off odor – then chuck it out. The egg is spoiled. But if the egg smells and looks fine? Then throw it in a stovetop pan with some butter. It’s still safe to eat!

Try this to tell the difference between fresh eggs and a not-so-fresh egg. Fill a glass of water and drop the egg in. If it sinks, the egg is fresh. If it tilts up or floats to the top, it is older. But even if the egg floats – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unsafe to eat. (If the egg smells and looks okay – it’s probably safe.)

Store-bought eggs don’t have the cuticle – so refrigeration is required.

Why Not Refrigerate Farm Fresh Eggs?

Farm-fresh eggs don’t need to be refrigerated initially because the protective membrane, the bloom, keeps them fresh. However, once washed or after two weeks at room temperature, it’s a good idea to refrigerate them.

You can also wash the bloom off – if you want. (But chuck them in the fridge immediately after doing so.)

gathering fresh chicken eggs into basket on rural farm
We find that eggs purchased locally outlast store-bought eggs. Store-bought eggs are usually old when you put them in your cart. An article on one of our favorite homesteading sources (the University of New Hampshire Extension) notes how many egg cartons you buy in the store can be four to eight weeks old when you buy them. Compare that to farm-fresh or backyard chicken coop eggs – which often go on sale soon after they get laid. (One friendly backyard chicken layer in our hometown sells so many chicken eggs that they can’t keep them in stock. It seems like their egg supply is the freshest around – we’re talking same-day eggs!)

Cooking With Fresh Eggs

Egg freshness is a huge variable when cooking. Fresh eggs are excellent food ingredients for many recipes. We find that fresh eggs feature firmer whites and yolks, making them ideal for poaching, frying, or any recipe where the shape of the egg matters. Older eggs are easier to peel, making them better suited for hard-boiling. (We’ve read that hard-boiled eggs should be at least ten days old for best results.)

Farm-Fresh Eggs Taste Superior! We Think So, At Least. Here’s Why.

Farm-fresh, free-range, pastured eggs are from happy, active chickens enjoying naturally diverse diets. The hens get raised in less crowded circumstances than those cage-raised chickens laying eggs in poor living conditions on commercial farms. Free-range hens enjoy a rich vegetarian diet from natural food sources that we believe enhance the taste. In our experience, free-range eggs feature a richer, more satisfying flavor.

(The taste of eggs can also vary by breed of chicken.)

Read More

Do Store-Bought Eggs Taste Different Than Fresh Eggs?

It’s nearly impossible to prove. But yes, we believe there may be a difference in flavor among the type of eggs. Many of our friends swear that farm-fresh eggs taste better, too. That said – there have been surprisingly few studies testing egg taste. But we believe store-bought eggs aren’t as robust as free-range fresh farm eggs because of the hens’ diets, living conditions, the eggs’ age, and the age of eggs by the time it reaches your kitchen.

Are There Any Risks to Eating Farm Fresh Eggs?

The primary risk of consuming any egg – farm-fresh or store-bought, is bacterial contamination, such as Salmonella. However, this risk is minimal with proper handling and cooking.

Do Farm-Fresh Eggs Have Salmonella?

There’s always a risk! Chickens can easily have Salmonella on their beaks, feet, and feathers – even if they appear healthy. The CDC says Salmonella causes over one million food illnesses yearly in the USA. The risk of Salmonella and other harmful bacteria is related more to the hens’ living conditions and how the eggs get handled, not whether they’re farm-fresh or store-bought.

How to Manage Salmonella Risk:

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water after handling raw food, chicken eggs, or spending time in the coop.
  • Wash all surface areas with warm water if they touch raw eggs, meat, or poultry.
  • Don’t put food on a cutting board that previously had raw meat, eggs, or poultry!
  • Cook your food to the recommended temperature.

Here’s Why Fresh Eggs Are Better Than Old Eggs

Freshness is key. Fresh eggs, whether store-bought or farm-fresh, have a yummy taste, firm whites, and centered yolks, making them excellent for most cooking applications. Older eggs can have a sulfuric taste and have thinner whites with flatter yolks.

(We should also note that if your eggs have a strong sulfur taste – chuck them out! That’s when you know your egg is spoiled.)

Is It Okay to Eat Fresh Laid Eggs?

Yes! You can eat eggs fresh from the nest. But always ensure they get handled properly and cooked thoroughly. (And wash your hands!)

What Not to Do With Farm Fresh Eggs?

Avoid washing farm-fresh eggs until ready to use them, as this removes the protective bloom. Also, we advise not to leave them at room temperature for more than two weeks, as this can affect their freshness and quality. We also suggest using older eggs for making hard-boiled eggs.

Farm-Fresh Egg Nutrition

mixed blue brown and white farm fresh eggs in carton
Another way to compare free-range, farm-fresh eggs vs. store-bought is their nutritional value. While surprisingly few studies test free-range chicken eggs vs. commercial chicken eggs, we found one egg pasture study worth sharing on the Penn State Agricultural Sciences blog. The study says eggs from pastured hens contained twice the amount of vitamin E and omega-3 fats, more than twice the omega-3 fatty acids, and 38% higher vitamin A concentration.

Eggs help form a healthy and nutritious breakfast, lunch, or dinner! A farm-fresh egg contains around 75 calories, six grams of protein, and a host of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, E, B12, iron, folate, and choline. It may also contain higher omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene levels. (Depending on the hen’s diet.)

Are Farm Fresh, Pastured Eggs Healthier Than Store Bought?

Finding reliable information on free-range eggs vs. store-bought eggs is tricky! We could only find one pastured egg study that indicated pastured eggs could have more nutrients. They may contain higher omega-3 fatty acid, beta carotene, and vitamin E levels, which is excellent for the human body.

Why Are Farm Fresh Eggs More Yellow Than Store Bought?

The deep yellow or orange yolks of farm-fresh eggs are due to the hens’ free-range diet, which is rich in xanthophylls, a type of carotenoid that gives foods like carrots their orange color, creating darker yolks.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide about farm-fresh eggs vs. store-bought eggs. We know we made it seem like we loathe store-bought eggs. But that’s not true. We love all eggs!

Many homesteaders and small farmsteads treat their chickens like family – with love, care, and respect. That’s what we care about the most!

So – all things equal – we always advise our homesteading friends to support local farmers who care for their animals.

We also think happy chickens lay better eggs – even if we can’t prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt!

Thanks again for reading

And have a great day.

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