Buying and storing eggs including how to freeze eggs
Our guide to choosing, buying and storing one of the most important ingredients.
Ideally, you should buy your eggs from a supplier that has a high turnover and make sure you always check the best before date on the box. In the UK, this date will usually be three weeks from when the eggs were laid and not packaged. This will enable you to determine exactly how fresh the eggs are.
In the US, on the other hand, the carton is stamped with the date on which they were packed. This date is written as a number from 1 - 365. Number 1 represents January 1st whilst number 365 represents December 31st.
At the store, open the carton and inspect the eggs to see whether there are any broken or cracked eggs and also test the weight by holding one in your hand. The heavier the egg, the fresher it is.
When eggs are really fresh, the air cell within them is very small. As the eggs age, moisture is lost and is replaced by air, which means that the eggs will become lighter and lighter in weight, as the air cell grows bigger and the egg becomes less fresh.
The way in which the eggs are stored can also affect their quality and freshness.
Once you arrive home, you should store the eggs in the refrigerator at a constant temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below. Temperatures above 40°F may lead bacteria to grow and rapidly multiply.
Keep the eggs in the original carton and place them on one of the shelves inside the fridge, where the temperature is cold and consistent. Do not store the eggs inside the fridge door, where warm air enters the fridge each time the door is opened. Eggs may be kept for up to five weeks if stored properly in the refrigerator.
Eggs are susceptible to changes in temperature, which can result in loss of quality.
Make sure that the eggs are kept in the same position as when they were packaged, with the pointed end facing downwards, as this prevents any damage to the air cell.
Keeping the eggs in their original carton is very important, as the protective cardboard slows down moisture loss and protects the eggs from the absorption of strong odours and flavours, through their porous shells, from nearby strong-smelling foods. The best before date can also be seen if the eggs are kept in the original packaging.
Some people store eggs in a cool larder or room, as many recipes call for eggs to be used at room temperature; however, eggs will deteriorate quicker at a warmer temperature. 24 hours of storage in a cool room is the same as 4 - 5 days in a refrigerator. Eggs stored in a cool room, should really be consumed within two weeks.
To warm eggs up to room temperature for certain recipes, either remove the eggs from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before needed or place the eggs in a bowl of very warm water for several minutes.
Separated eggs can also be kept in the refrigerator but the egg white and the yolk must be kept separate. Place each part of the egg in a small airtight container with a lid and place in the fridge. A thin layer of milk or water can be poured over the yolk in order to keep its softness. Separated egg yolks can be kept for up to 4 days, whilst egg whites should be used within 2 - 3 days.
Freezing eggs - How to freeze an egg
It is possible to freeze eggs, yet they must be removed from their shells and placed in a small airtight container or freezer bag.
If you wish to freeze whole eggs, beat the eggs until they have blended together and place them in an airtight plastic container. Label the container with the date and the number of eggs.
The same can be carried out for egg whites, but egg yolks require a bit more care. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and add a pinch of salt if they are to be used for savoury dishes, or a pinch of sugar, for sweet dishes. This will stop the yolks from becoming too thick as they freeze over time. Pour the egg yolks into an airtight container, label the container and place in the freezer.
Defrost frozen eggs in the refrigerator overnight, never at room temperature and use them as soon as they have defrosted.