October 24, 2009 3:27 AM   Subscribe

Should I eat it? Hard boiled eggs left in water over night.

I made a bunch of hardboiled eggs, and then left the house for the evening before putting them away (so they were left in the hot water they were cooked in, but the stove off, so they cooled over night).

On the one hand, eggs go bad fast. On the other, they were left in a fairly airtight container (first the shell, then the water).

My inclination is to eat them... so should I?
posted by molecicco to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would not eat them.

You probably won't die though.
posted by jrockway at 3:34 AM on October 24, 2009

I gotta believe this is going to be a case of follow your nose. But I would eat them. We've had eggs out for easter egg hunts before and eaten them after several hours out just fine. The hard-boiling is itself a third barrier, in that it's not a viscous, soupy, protein-filled fun-house. It's still full of protein, but damn is it harder for the bad stuff to get through on such a short time period.
posted by disillusioned at 4:13 AM on October 24, 2009

I'd eat em, absolutely.
posted by h00py at 4:13 AM on October 24, 2009

posted by b33j at 4:15 AM on October 24, 2009

I have in the past done exactly this, but having now looked up the food safety guidelines, I have come to the conclusion, I have a stomach of steel. (It was not uncommon for my mother to put hard boiled eggs in my unrefrigerated lunch box to take to school, in 30C heat, and I don't remember being ill as a result. (But that was a long time ago). Also left overs from barbecues suffer much the same fate, by the time people start packing up and putting things away, and these eggs are peeled.

How cold was your house? Was it 41F? If so, you're safe.
posted by b33j at 4:19 AM on October 24, 2009

You should think about what kind of poisoning you're worried about. You boiled the water, and boiled the egg which was sitting in it, killing most of the bacteria both in and on the egg or in the water. The eggshell isn't impenetrable, but given these considerations your eggs are pretty safe to eat.
posted by beerbajay at 4:19 AM on October 24, 2009

I do this regularly. Just eat it. But don't sue me later.
posted by Waymon Tisdale at 4:56 AM on October 24, 2009

"Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling. To practice food safety, quickly refrigerate perishable foods such as ... eggs — don't let them sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C). ... Your goal is to minimize the time a food is in the 'danger zone' — between 40 F (4 C) and 140 F (60 C) — when bacteria can multiply." -- Mayo Clinic
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:59 AM on October 24, 2009

I've done this several times out of laziness and then eaten the eggs with no ill effects.
posted by Science! at 5:06 AM on October 24, 2009

This is generally how I make them. There are a whole, whole lot of people in the US and the world who don't refrigerate eggs at all.
posted by TomMelee at 5:17 AM on October 24, 2009

That settles it. It's completely fine to eat. Mayo Clinic be be damned. What could they possibly know about *cooked* eggs anyhow?

Also, where I live, eggs are sold at all supermarkets unrefrigerated. I think one can be overcautious. If I get food poisoning, I will drop back in here and let you all know.
posted by molecicco at 5:17 AM on October 24, 2009

Something like a potato or a pot of rice can be contaminated by spores, which survive all boiling and then spoil food left out too long, even if covered the whole time. Eggs are different. Perhaps one in ten thousand eggs is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria inside the hen before the shell goes on, but these bacteria are not in the form of spores; this means the contamination can be killed by heat. Salmonella is a bad thing if the raw egg is left in a warm place so that the bacteria can multiply, but not an issue if the egg was cooked promptly after taking it out of the fridge. Whatever bacteria are in an egg will be killed by simmering the eggs in nearly-boiling water until they are cooked to firmness. Then, if the egg is perfectly uncracked, it's safe to eat. Throw out any of the eggs that cracked before or during cooking.
posted by Ery at 6:27 AM on October 24, 2009

My mother grew up thinking that you don't refrigerate eggs after you boil them. They just stay in a bowl on the counter. I can't bring myself to follow this practice but my Mom, Grandma, Aunts and all the older crew did this for years and never had any ill effects.

I would rather eat them chilled but I think you'll be ok!
posted by pearlybob at 6:27 AM on October 24, 2009

I would eat them without a second thought. And, having done so many times, I am here to tell the tale.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:36 AM on October 24, 2009

A couple of people have pointed out that in some parts of the world, eggs are not refrigerated. It's important to understand why: In the US, the government requires eggs to be washed, which removes the egg's natural bloom. The bloom seals the pores and keeps bacteria from getting in. Eggs in the US are much more vulnerable to contamination once they're out of the refrigerator. Similarly, even if your eggs started out with natural bloom, boiling them removes it.
posted by HotToddy at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

FWIW we do not refrigerate boiled eggs here. Granted, we have vastly fewer food chain and intensive farming issues here, but g'wan.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2009

What could they possibly know about *cooked* eggs anyhow?

posted by Jaltcoh at 9:41 AM on October 24, 2009

Oh, were you thinking Mayo=Mayonnaise?
posted by theantikitty at 9:44 AM on October 24, 2009

Previously. Though the ones marked best answer say it's OK, those are based on anecdotal evidence along the lines of "I did this once, ergo it's a good idea." Many answers point out the 2-hour rule. That seems right to me. Eggs go bad easily. I'd be on the safe side.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:15 AM on October 24, 2009

I usually come down on the "don't eat it" side on these sorts of questions, but in this case, I say eat them. If any of them cracked enough for egg white to ooze out, I'd pitch those, and if egg white oozed out of any of them, I'd pitch any others that had small cracks without ooze. However, if there are some with small cracks, but none of them oozed, I'd eat them all (not all at once, of course).

My thinking: hard boiling the eggs took care of any bacteria inside the egg or on the surface, and the boiled water itself is not a good medium for bacteria to take hold in overnight, so any small cracks aren't likely to have been invaded. On the other hand, cracked oozing eggs might make the liquid more hospitable, leading to high enough bacteria levels that small cracks might be exploited.
posted by Good Brain at 11:05 AM on October 24, 2009

I'm glad to hear that you decided to eat them already. You wouldn't want to live the rest of your wondering, "What if I had eaten those eggs."
posted by smorange at 12:17 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

The thing about eggs, like most proteins, is that if they go bad, they let you know... right away.
posted by jedrek at 12:19 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I lived in africa, a common snack sold by little kids were hard boiled eggs. They would walk around the roadside stops - on days with 90+ degree heat! - with 8x8 flats of eggs, sold for ~10 cents each. They must have often had eggs left at the end of the day and I would not be surprised if they recycled them for the next day (or several).

Needless to say I enjoyed dozens of these treats in my time there, and never suffered any subsequent illness.
posted by i less than three nsima at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2009

I ate the cracked one! Several hours later and I'm fine, although Salmonella can sometimes take a couple of days to incubate, so we'll see. And I'm in Germany, so I'm guessing that that bloom HotToddy speaks of has offered me extra protection.

Mayo/Mayonnaise, yes that was the idea.... please accept my apologies. Usually my puns are unintended. But that one was totally on purpose.
posted by molecicco at 3:04 PM on October 24, 2009

I do this all the time and never considered it a problem. I just start them boiling a few minutes and turn off the heat and go to bed. It never even occurred to me this could be a problem. As far as bacteria in the water, it's all been boiled. What beerbajay said.
posted by WyoWhy at 9:13 AM on October 25, 2009

You're in Germany? Me too, and where I'm at (Frankfurt) they sell hard boiled eggs - on the shelf - that have been sitting there for days, likely. Unlike their non-hard boiled cousins that are also on the shelf, I'm going to assume that they have been washed since they're colored. Like easter eggs. I buy them all the time (and then stick them in the fridge since I'm 'merican) and they have never done me a bit of harm. Mmmmmm.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 10:02 AM on October 25, 2009

Still alive!
posted by molecicco at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

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