Picture this: you’re out from some household shopping, and there’s too much traffic. On arriving home, you’re so tired that your energy has run out to unpack the shopping.
So, you take a nap until morning before offloading the trunk. One of the items you left overnight is the eggs which makes you wonder if they’re safe for consumption any longer.
Well, the answer is Yes and No! Spoilage entirely depends on the temperature levels in the vehicle. The eggs will spoil if the inside of the vehicle is hot. This is because heat supports bacteria growth contributing to spoilage.
If it’s cool in the vehicle, the eggs will remain fresh for a long time because cold temperatures hinder bacteria growth. You can use several tests to determine their freshness: smell, visual, float, and shake tests.
If you still have more questions about eggs left in the car overnight, this article will help you find the answers–how to check if the eggs are bad, what happens in a cold and a hot car, how to refrigerate them, and much more.
Let’s get into it.
How to Check Whether Eggs are Good After Leaving Them Overnight in the Car
Knowing the temperature alone won’t guarantee the freshness of your eggs after an overnight stay in the car. This is why you may be torn between discarding them and maintaining them.
Here are the ways to tell if the egg is still safe for consumption:
Fresh eggs have a neutral smell, making it easy to identify any foreign smell from them. On the other hand, the smell of a rotten egg is usually sour or sulfuric; if you smell an odor from the egg when you crack it or throw it away.
You can tell whether an egg is bad by looking at it. To check, look for abnormalities from the usual look on the eggshell and the inner part.
Then, after an overnight stay in the car, look for unusual cracks on the shell. If any, these are signs of bacteria contamination and invasion.
If the eggshell is normal, visually test the inner part of the egg. The yolk should be in its normal yellow color, with the white maintaining its color. There shouldn’t be any discoloration; if any, it is a sign of contamination.
A floating test is an easy, interesting, and commonly used method to check the freshness of eggs. Eggs have the potential to sink because the eggshell is semipermeable, which means that air can penetrate through it, causing flotation.
For this test to work, you need to put an egg in a bucket or water bowl. If the egg sinks and sits horizontally, the egg is fresh. When it stands vertically, it is fresh but almost loses its freshness. If it floats, it is a sign that it’s bad.
The downside of this test is that water can penetrate due to the shell’s permeability. This water may contain bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas that would penetrate into the egg.
After using this method and finding that the eggs are still fresh, use them immediately to avoid bacteria buildup.
Note: U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines suggest that an egg that floats may still be edible. In addition to looking for signs of contamination on the outside, one can use their sense of smell by cracking open the egg.
The shake test is another way to determine the egg’s freshness though it is unreliable. It involves shaking an egg near your ear to listen to any shaky sound.
An old yoke loses its form and becomes watery, making a watery sound on shaking.
What Happens When I Leave my Eggs in the Car Overnight
When eggs are left in a hot car (85 degrees Fahrenheit or more), they grow bacteria within 30 minutes.
Eggs from the farm also get contaminated under heat during transportation and bulky storage. However, they may take longer to go bad than those which have stayed on the store shelves for some time.
Therefore, always use the methods we’ve listed above to know whether your eggs are safe for consumption.
What Happens When I Leave Eggs in a Cold Car?
If you left your eggs in a cold car, they would still be suitable for consumption. This is because a temperature below 40°F(4°C) is not fit for bacteria growth. However, to be sure, you can test to verify if they are still good.
When the car has a stable temperature below 40°F(4°C), the eggs will be edible five weeks later. However, if temperatures fluctuate to heightened levels for 2 hours, it causes bacterial growth and contamination.
How Long Do I Leave Fresh Farm Eggs Outside?
If your eggs are fresh from the farm, they can last for 2-3 weeks outside under room temperature. This happens if the egg hasn’t been cleaned commercially.
Commercially cleaned eggs lose their cuticle, which is vital for protection against bacteria such as salmonella. So, the eggs that are purely from the farm last longer, but you should be keen on shell contamination.
How To Refrigerate Eggs in the Fridge
After confirming whether the eggs are good for consumption, you’ll need to store them safely. If the eggs were from the farm, don’t wash them, so you can retain the cuticle, which protects the egg from bacteria.
To store them, put the eggs in a container or retain them in the tray for safety. Most people would prefer to place them near the fridge door for easier access, but it’s best to put them on the end side.
This will prevent temperature fluctuation when the door is opened, which triggers bacteria growth.
Some commercial eggs have a best-before date, but when you store them properly under constant cold temperatures, they’ll last for 4-5 weeks.
How to Store Eggs Without Refrigeration
If your eggs are still fresh after hours in your car, you can store them without refrigeration. However, storing without refrigeration is only suitable for fresh farm eggs that have not been washed, for they have a protective layer.
You should wash fresh farm eggs before use, but keep them covered to avoid re-contamination. Also, clean your hand after touching unwashed eggs.
Use safe equipment like trays when storing the eggs in a cupboard or counter. They help avoid breakages and contamination from the surface.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are frequently asked questions about the viability of eggs.
How Do Eggs Get Salmonella?
Eggs get salmonella when they are placed on a surface that’s contaminated with salmonella droppings. You can prevent it by allowing your eggs to cook properly and storing them well.
Also, you can buy pasteurized eggs that have been refrigerated.
How Do I Store Cooked Eggs?
After you have cooked your eggs, it is advisable not to keep them without consumption for long. If you don’t consume them immediately, store them in a refrigerator using a covered container.
When peeled, use a paper towel under and on top before placing the eggs in a freezer-friendly container. Covering will help maintain the eggs’ moistness.
What’s the Best Time to Consume Refrigerated Eggs?
There is no specific time that you should consume refrigerated eggs. However, it’s recommended that you consume within 4 to 5 weeks to avoid possible contamination.