July 29, 2014

Refrigerate Eggs or Not?

Refrigerate Eggs, unrefrigerated eggs, egg, storage, fridge,  雪, 蛋, 不雪蛋,
By Published: 2014-07-29
I'm sure I've written before about my grumpy old egg man at my local Hong Kong wet market and, lo and behold, here is that old sweetheart again, creeping grouchily into my story.  Well, what happened is that one day a while ago I forgot (again!) to keep my mouth shut when I was buying my eggs (he has the best eggs!) and I asked a stupid question (stupid to him, not to me.)  

As I was standing there waiting for my egg man to wrap up my fresh free range eggs in a neat cone of newspaper, it dawned on me that all his eggs were just sitting out in the open air.  In other words, they were not refrigerated!  

In the old days before I discovered him, I had always previously bought refrigerated eggs at the supermarket and kept my eggs in the refrigerator at home.  So I asked my grumpy old egg man why he did not need to refrigerate his eggs.  

Boy oh boy, did I get a long lecture that day about the general lack of food culture, lack of food knowledge, heck, even the overall degeneration of society, before he would hand over the eggs that I had already paid for.  But the thing is, lecture or no, he never did answer my question: Refrigerate Eggs or Not?  雪蛋環是不雪蛋?

Refrigerate Eggs, unrefrigerated eggs, egg, storage, fridge,  雪, 蛋, 不雪蛋,
A wet market shop selling unrefrigerated eggs
So I did what any good food sleuth would do in a time like this and turned to the internet for some answers.  Interesting!  I found out that in Europe and Britain, the supermarkets don't refrigerate their eggs either!  What was going on?!  

After scratching my head a while over this eggy problem it turns out that egg sellers are not allowed to refrigerate eggs in Europe by law.  Reason?  There is a thin natural coating on eggs that protects the eggs against infiltration of bacteria, including salmonella, that pesky food bug.  Also hens in Europe are vaccinated against salmonella.  So the whole thing works out well since they started this system and the rate of salmonella infection there is very low.

In the USA egg sellers are required by law to wash/disinfect all eggs before selling.  This effectively washes off the little egg's natural protective coating, so therefore the eggs are required to be in a constant refrigerated state from then on.  Humm...

Refrigerate Eggs, unrefrigerated eggs, egg, storage, fridge,  雪, 蛋, 不雪蛋,
Eggs on a non refrigerated supermarket shelf
So back to the problem at hand in Hong Kong.  I am buying fresh free range eggs from my grouchy old egg man who doesn't refrigerate his eggs.  Which is fine because his eggs are super fresh and unwashed and therefore have intact natural protective coatings.  

But how should I keep my lovely eggs once I get them home?  After much discussion we decided for the time being to try keeping our eggs unrefrigerated at home.  The reason?  Fresh unrefrigerated eggs taste a lot better!

What do you think?  How do you keep your eggs?

More Kitchen-y Thoughts from The Hong Kong Cookery:

curl up, green onions, Grow, jar, scallions, shredder, Spring Onions, 玻璃樽, 珠蔥, 種Grow Spring Onions in a Jar


  1. Hmm I usually refridgerate them because I always think I would be safer, unless perhaps the egg is freshly laid that day?
    It always puzzles me when I see butter in its butter dish not kept in the refrigerator, after all it is made of milk and thus can spoil.

    1. I've left butter out overnight to soften and had no problems. But not longer than that! ~ellen

  2. Maybe the United States go overboard when it comes to food safety but I rather be safe when it comes to buying and storing food. And I try to eat healthy and buy fresh/organic if I can.

  3. I am in the US and we hardly refrigerate eggs. If I know they will not be used within a week or so, I will pop them in. I've been doing this for years without ever having an egg go bad.

    1. Hi Christine - thanks for chiming in. That's a great tip. ~ellen