Help me find EGGSactly what I need!
March 6, 2012 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Small Scale Egg washing solutions for a small coop worth of eggs. (~24 Hens)

Heya Hivemind.

Got a home "Farmer" question to ask.

When my father retired, I suggested he pick up a few chickens. He's got around 24 laying hens and everything is going great. He likes giving the eggs away. He gets between 18 and 24 eggs daily.

He would like to find a small scale egg washer, to clean the dirty eggs up before giving them away.

I've seen this IncredibleEggWasher

I've seen a few DIY solutions out there and that might be something we pursue.

Any advice or opinions would be appreciated!

posted by PlutoniumX to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The eggs actually last longer if they're not cleaned - there's a protective coating that repels bacteria. That said, no one wants a carton of dirty eggs. For such a small number, I'd just rub them with a microfiber cloth and toss that into the laundry. Some tips here.
posted by judith at 1:30 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Back when I lived on my palatial country estate (only took me 20 years to convert a lovely country home into an old barn) I would change the bedding in the nest boxes every day and brush off the eggs with a dry scrubby. The clean bedding kept most of the poop off the eggs, and the little bit that stuck to the eggs would come right off with the scrubby. Back then folks would pay extra for the authenticity, and the eggs would keep fresh longer if they weren't washed.
posted by Floydd at 5:08 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

(On preview, I see that your father is giving the eggs away and not selling them. Thus, my references to what's legal for sale aren't directly relevant. However, passing inspection is a good first step toward handling eggs safely so I'll leave it in. And, if there ever is an issue, it'd be nice to be able to say that you're conforming to established safety standards.)

A friend of mine with about a hundred layers would wash his by hand. He's since bought one of these egg washers, mostly because he wanted to see how it worked, I think. He doesn't consider this egg washer worth the money for his situation. He has not, however, sold it.

His previous system was two have two egg trays on either side of his sink, a misting nozzle like this one mounted on the faucet with the temp set to 98F (or so). He'd mist the eggs with quaternary ammonia from a hand-held spray bottle and scrape the poo off with a green dishwashing scrubby. The water temp is important to keep contaminants from osmotizing... osmosing... os... penetrating the shell by osmosis. He definitely had a rhythm going when he was washing and was pretty dang quick. Probably faster than the machine, but with more work involved.

This was a good enough system for the WSDA to approve his eggs for off-farm retail sale.

We're not licensed egg dealers because we've only got 25... no 15 layers (thanks to a now-deceased raccoon) so we only sell on-farm and don't need one. The way I wash eggs is to mist them lightly with a sanitizer (Perasan, Stan San, or vinegar, depending. Don't like bleach) and rub them clean with a coarse bar towel. I usually only break a few of them.

This doesn't get particularly muddy duck eggs spotless, however. I'm not sure what will.

I did visit a farm with a similar no-running-water system that did pass inspection. The key for them to pass inspection was a list of steps taped to the wall above the counter. Regulations can be silly at times. *shrugs*

As for immersion/compressed air egg washers, I've never seen one in use and don't know how well they work. However, WSDA does not permit use of these systems for inspected eggs. The reason is that they consider immersing one or more egg in water to be a vector for pathogens to pass from egg-to-egg and to become more likely to penetrate the shell. Seems to me to be a good enough reason to avoid them.

Another option is to go with a roll-out nest box to remove the egg from the vicinity of the chickens pooper as quickly as possible. If you keep the egg spotless from the time it's laid, it's just a quick spritz and rinse and you're good to go. I've not personally used the nest I've linked, so I can't vouch for how well it works, but I've dealt with Cornerstone customer service on some equipment I own that was originally purchased from them by someone else and have had good experiences.

And, yeah, for my own consumption I don't bother to wash my eggs. For sale, we only wash immediately prior to sale because, as noted above, eggs store better without being washed. However, WSDA requires washing prior to sale and sometimes eggs are just dirty, so we wash.
posted by stet at 6:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

My neighbor has 50 hens and sells most of her eggs, and the eggs were always grubby. I gave her some tips for producing clean eggs that she says has worked. Keep the roost away from the nesting boxes and bed your hen's nesting boxes with wood shavings. Pine shavings are fine. That seems to keep most of the eggs clean. Also, make sure the hens roost on the perch or in a comfy corner and only lay in the boxes. If they roost in the boxes, they'll be filthy in no time. My neighbor had to shut her nest boxes up at night and open them early in the morning for a couple weeks before the hens got the hint. There's seldom poop in the boxes if kept clean, and the hens don't seem to want to muck them up. All it takes is to flip the poops out, and put in new shavings, if needed. Make sure there are not too many boxes. One box for every 3-4 hens is plenty, otherwise they seem to make them into outhouses.

Divide your eggs right away into clean and dirty ones. The neighbor uses two baskets. Most eggs only need the shavings brushed off. The dirty eggs get cleaned with a scrubby, as Floydd suggested. She keeps any stained eggs, and there are a few customers who aren't quite as 'particular' that won't freak at a minor bit of poop.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:14 PM on March 6, 2012

if I was getting eggs as a present I'd value the 'authentic look' since it would register for me at a more fundamental level that I was getting something special and straight from the farmer rather than what I pick up from the store. I would clean them the bare minimum to make them a bit more presentable (I know nothing about cleaning eggs, but from reviewing above, use that scrubby thing to scrape off excess poop and good to go)
posted by saraindc at 11:39 PM on March 6, 2012

Great answers everyone! Thanks!
posted by PlutoniumX at 6:37 AM on March 7, 2012

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