Eggs are a hearty food for most of Indonesians – we wonder who don't like to put eggs on your fried rice?
Many people tend to consider eggs as dairy products, while they are classified as animal products that are high in protein. On the other hand, eggs have a natural coating to protect them since they are highly vulnerable to bacterial growth like Salmonella, Escherichia, and others as the contaminants in a short period. Poor handling may lead to contamination that leads the eggs to go bad. Eggs also have several unique facts regarding its shelf-life that might jump from our awareness.
Before going further, let’s dig more about the eggs for a while.
Eggshells are porous with tiny pores – they are kind of sensitive with the temperature changes and odors from surrounding foods with strong flavors and smells. With the shape of the egg, we have been conditioned that the pointed side is the top with the larger and more rounded side is the bottom, while actually, at some occasions, we got it all wrong this whole time.
Here is one useful tip to place eggs with the large rounded side up pointing side down (like the picture on the right) if you were going to store it for a long time. It is because egg’s rounded side has this kind of naturally occurring air bubble inside to keep them from drying out – yep, those tiny pores let moisture out of the egg, too. This style will help to keep the yolk stay centered making pretty hard-boiled eggs but it will not such a big deal if you planned to scramble the eggs or to keep the eggs for a short period before cooking them.
Let's get into the two "egg-cellent" boats – the storage styles and the know-how!
Proper food storage is key to lengthen the shelf-life and maintain the quality of the foods - for the case of eggs, they rarely spoil. In general, eggs stored under refrigeration, whereas some might freeze it or put it at room temperature. There is nothing wrong with those three but knowing dos and don'ts of each one should avoid you from any undesired aftermaths. Different regions or countries – Europe and the UK avoid their eggs to be refrigerated, most Americans keep their eggs on the fridge considering it is unsafe to place it at room temperature, and what about Indonesia? We haven't found the exact regulation or requirement that brought us to gather a #quicksurvey through our Instagram.
From 58 respondents,
69% refrigerate it, 31% use the room temperature, and none freezes it.
Better not place your eggs in the fridge door
If you have been placing your eggs in the fridge door, you might want to change your mind. Despite some refrigerators provide a special compartment for eggs, the door is the warmest part of the fridge since the air from outside enters each time you open the door causing the eggs to go bad quickly (1). Oh! Don’t forget about the slamming part when closing the fridge door which can result in the breakage – be mindful of the door, will you?
The best bet is to place the eggs on the inner side of the fridge where the temperature is consistently cool and away from pungent foods making your eggs fresher as eggs stored in the refrigerator showed better quality up to 28 days and up to 14 days at room temperature (2). Some might say it is necessary to put the eggs in the original container while storing them because the carton can help prevent moisture loss and keep the eggs from picking up odors or flavors from other foods. But as far as we know, in Indonesia, it is rarely seen eggs packed inside the carton board where consumers tend to like the Mica plastic packaging and put out the eggs right away to the egg container inside the fridge (3).
Room temperature as runner-up for eggs storage
Indonesians should be familiar with seeing eggs are being kept in the multi-storey shelf, scattered in an open container, and sold with a certain weight unit. Even in modern grocery stores, eggs are rarely refrigerated. As room temperature eggs have better quality up to 14 days (2), there is a higher weight loss and risk of bacteria, yeast, and mold growth than those refrigerated (4). Our best suggestion is you can store your uncooked eggs at room temperature if you planned to cook it in no longer than 2 hours after storing them!
"When your eggs are refrigerated, it must be kept at that temperature to prevent sweaty eggs that can contaminate the eggs through bacteria growth. Unless you always store the eggs at room temperature starting from the time you buy it and store it at home."
If you haven't known already, room temperature eggs play a crucial role in baking! Eggs are naturally acidic causing the proteins in the white egg tightly knit. Meanwhile, it becomes more alkaline when getting older in which the white eggs become thinner resulting in the proteins start to pull away from each other. When it comes to baking, you get the best of both worlds from room temperature eggs – the foam will get more stable and reach the desired consistency without taking ages and the eggs mix better with the batter. Dear bakers, give us a shot-out!
Yes, you can ❄ freeze ❄ them eggs but without the shells
With the pretty amazing shells, eggs cannot be stored in the freeze unfortunately since the shells are not made to withstand your freezer’s temperature. The same goes for hard-boiled eggs in the shells that will make the white eggs hardened and becomes runny. When you have more eggs you can freeze them up to a year, crack the eggs first and make sure you only freeze clean, fresh eggs. Three ways to freeze it: whole eggs, white only, and yolk only. Place the mixtures in ice cube tray or a labeled freezer-safe bag or container and if you are going to freeze the egg yolks only, add either salt (for main dish) or sugar (for baking) in preventing any thickening.
The shelf life of eggs will vary upon the storage temperature and its handling that can be greatly reduced if the eggs are not refrigerated as they may become unsafe to eat. Most of the packed eggs in Indonesia have their expiry dates usually written with a number terms of "Sell By", "Best By", or "Best Before" stating the best quality of the eggs assuming with continuous refrigeration. Meanwhile, there is also a set of three numbers in egg packaging to show the pack date written in Julian date - starting with January 1st as 001 and ending with December 31st as 365 (or 366 for leap year).
But how could we know the egg is still fresh, fine, and, young if we couldn't see any stated dates in which we buy them eggs freshly from the shops? Yes, we hear ya! Our #quicksurveys shows it all.
67% of respondents buy the eggs from small shops and/or supermarkets with the price calculated based on the weighs in kilograms – a rarity to have an original packaging or even the stated expiry date.
Here are simple ways to solve the mystery:
The Float Test. Simply fill a bowl with cold water and gently submerge the egg. We made a simple illustration of how is the freshness of the eggs as below.
Self-Sensory Test. You can smell the egg whether it is still fresh or not and crack the eggs' to know if the white eggs changed color or any green or black spots on the yolk.
Shake-the-egg Test. Shake the egg slowly if there wasn't any particular sound, the egg should still be fresh. But if it sounds or feels like a sound, you better not pick the egg since its quality may go bad already.
Eggshells Color. Find the ones with brighter colors and no black spots that indicate the freshest eggs.
Thank you for spending some time to read until this end point – we learned a lot by writing this article since we still put the eggs in the fridge door and did not go with the upside-down style. Hope these will be an "egg-cellent" little guide for you as well to take care of the eggs!
(1): Koppel K, Carbonell-Barrachina AA, Araújo LV, Donfrancesco BD. 2015. Purchase, storage, and preparation of Eggs and poultry in selected European countries: a preliminary study. British Food Journal. 117: 749-765.
(2): Akter Y, Kasim A, Omar H, Sazili AQ. 2014. Effect of storage time and temperature on the quality characteristics of chicken eggs. Journal of Food Agriculture and Environment. 1212(3&4): 87-92.
(3): Zunius V. 2015. Consumer behavior in purchase of omega-3 eggs in some supermarkets in the city of Bogor [thesis]. Bogor (ID): IPB University.
(4): Eke MO, Olaitan NI, Ochefu JH. 2013. Effect of storage conditions on the quality attributes of shell (table) eggs. Nigerian Food Journal. 31(2): 18-24.