Why aren’t eggs in Mexico refrigerated?
Mexico certainly has its share of vast differences and for a lot of people, the mysterious case of why eggs are not refrigerated is one of those vast differences. You can walk through any shop, grocery store or market and lo-and-behold, the eggs are sitting out on the shelves next to the bread.
Is this right? Isn’t it written someplace – like in the USDA handbook – that all eggs must be refrigerated? The answer is both yes and no.
In countries such as the US and Canada, it’s common practice for manufactures to wash the eggs before packaging and thus, distributing. As a matter of fact, the USDA requires that an American egg be power-washed because many factory farm chickens carry salmonella.
It’s this power washing that removes Mother Nature’s natural layer of protection that an egg has when it’s laid. The natural layer of protection prevents contamination through the tiny pores of the egg. After being power washed, a factory egg is suddenly susceptible to contamination and spoilage, which is why it’s factory coated with a thin layer of oil to offer some protection from contaminants and to help prevent it from drying out.
In Europe and Mexico – and on many farms around the world including the US and Canada – eggs are not washed. They are simply cleaned — dusted off, as one might say — and added to the basket for home. If the chickens do not have salmonella, it’s fine to leave the eggs unfridgerated because the eggs are fresh and safe.
You’ve likely seen eggs around the Riviera Maya for sale with a little poop and a feather or two still attached. While this is more of a visual assault to the senses than anything else, it’s harmless and is best to leave the eggs the way they are until you’re ready to use them.
Food professionals do suggest that those living in tropical environments without a constantly air conditioned home should refrigerate their eggs during the really warm months, when the heat tends to be more extreme. Other times of the year, room temperature is just fine.
On the other hand, professional chefs advise using cold eggs for cooking, especially for making poached or fried eggs. When eggs are cold, the yolks don’t break as easily as room temperature eggs.
However for baking purposes, eggs should be room temperature. The same goes for eggs set aside to be used in sauces like mayonnaise or Caesar salad dressing. Also, room temperature eggs that are more than a few days old work best for hard boiled eggs. Eggs that are really fresh do not release the membrane very easily and are rather troublesome to peel after they’ve been cooked.