Oct 10 2013
Every couple of days, a drug deal goes down.
That’s what it feels like. With eggs.
It starts with a text message to my neighbor, Liz.
Me: Hey egglady… got some?
Her reply: this afternoon, 2 cartons.
Then neighbor Liz heads over to another neighbor’s place (neighbors with chickens, also of yak cow fame). Liz fetches the goods and deposits them in her barn fridge. Then I drive over and pick them up.
I know, it’s convoluted — and you’re probably wondering, “Why don’t you drive to the yak cow farm and get your own eggs?”
Because, that’s not how the system works, okay??
Anyway, last week I went to retrieve an 18-pack from the fridge and noticed two cartons stacked on the shelf. I figured they contained the typical variety: a multi-cultural melting pot — eggs from white to dark brown, big to little, some with paper-thin shells and others, hard as rocks.
I grabbed the top carton and opened it to check the goods. I froze.
The eggs were dirty, flecked with barn debris. Bits of hay, dirt, poop and tiny feathers clung to the shells.
Yikes, I thought.
To be honest — as farmy as I try to sound — most of our food comes from a grocery store. And I’m accustomed to processed, sanitized products. Quite stupidly, I assumed that eggs are porcelain-white from coop to frying pan…. ignoring the fact that chickens (basically) poop them out.
My pristine egg dream was shattered.
Grossed out, I closed the lid and fished the second carton from the fridge. That batch was clean. I tucked the second carton under my arm and returned the first to the fridge. Then I hesitated, with a pang of guilt…
…but I got over it.
I took the clean eggs and left the dirty ones for Liz.
Fast forward a week and there wasn’t an option. The fridge held stacks of farm-fresh eggs, and the farm still speckled their shells. (I gotta talk with my supplier, I thought).
At home I peered at the dirty pack. How do you wash these things? I wondered.
I already felt like a dummy for thinking that eggs are perpetually clean. Might as well continue down the stupid road. I googled “how to clean farm eggs.” It felt like such a dim-witted query. Like looking up, “how to boil water.”
But when I read the results, I felt a little better.
Cleaning farm eggs is a topic of great debate, and chicken people love blogging about it. Instantly, I unearthed oodles of egg cleansing directions, followed by snarky criticism and debate. Wash eggs in hot water; only wash eggs in lukewarm water; be sure to boil them; boil them with bleach; what?? don’t boil them; never use bleach!
And then there was a chorus of egg experts who decried washing at all. (Why? Because eggs are porous and washing them weakens the “bloom,” the protective membrane, thereby letting bacteria intrude.) Never use hot water — it removes the bloom faster; don’t use cold water, it draws bacteria in faster; only use a sponge or sandpaper to rub off the poop; don’t do anything, just crack them open!
Ug, I thought. Life was easier when Liz did the dirty work.
In the end, I washed the eggs with warm water and a little dish soap (just before cooking, thereby thwarting bacterium intrusion).
I asked Liz about her cleaning technique. She knows that washing is wrong, but she does it anyway, like me. In her mudroom, she bathes them in a plastic bowl filled with warm water and dish soap.
Whatever you do, she texted, don’t drop those slippery &#%! on the floor between the washer and dryer…