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Safe Storage of Out-of-the-Shell Eggs

 How long will a batch of scrambled eggs (uncooked) keep in the frig?

 "Frig" in all its forms is a word we try to keep our teenage children from uttering (although it is substantially better than the alternative). For shortening the name of a certain large kitchen appliance, we prefer the slightly more elegant "fridge."

How long will a raw egg last in the refrigerator once it has been removed from the shell (either beaten or not)? Not very long. Eggs are particularly prone to picking up odors and flavors from other foods and they lose moisture quickly in the dry refrigerator environment.

If we haven't used leftover egg yolks within about two days, we generally throw them out. We'll keep leftover whites a few days longer. So maybe we would be willing to keep beaten eggs for three or four days? Possibly, but we would probably toss them within two days if we hadn't found a good use for them.

The hen coats her egg with a natural sealer to keep it from losing moisture through its 9,000 or so pores. Egg producers wash this off when the clean the egg to make it pretty for you, but they coat it with a thin layer of mineral oil to restore the seal before putting it in the carton. Either way, an egg will stay fresher much longer in the shell than in one of your containers in the refrigerator.

We suspect the root of your question has to do with whether your eggs might have become contaminated in any way, either from the farm or through improper handling in your kitchen? If that seems like a risk, you are better off getting rid of them — especially if you are planning to scramble the eggs, where there's a chance (if they are on the runny side) that some egg would not reach a safe temperature of 160°F (71°C).

Your question brings up an issue we often struggle with. People ask how long a certain food will stay fresh or "good," without accounting for the many variables that affect the answer. Did you crack your eggs, mix them, and put them in a small glass jar with very little extra space for air, seal it tightly, and put them immediately back in the fridge? Or did one of your teenagers mix them in a large plastic bowl, decide to have toast instead, and leave them out on the counter for half an hour on a hot summer day before you found them, covered the bowl loosely with plastic wrap, and put them back in the refrigerator? There are many variables that affect taste, quality, freshness, and safety. In our experience, eggs out of the shell start to look old pretty quickly, and that's when we decide to throw them out.


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