Picture this – it’s the holidays, and you’re headed home to visit your friends and family. What better gift to bring from your homestead than a dozen fresh eggs?
Unfortunately, if you need to hop on a plane or travel across the country, shipping or traveling with eggs doesn’t have to be bad.
I have always had a hard time traveling with eggs, finding that no matter how well I pack them in their containers, they always end up managing to jump out of their cartons before I get them to their ultimate destination.
This, of course, leads to a nasty, stinky, hard to clean mess.
Luckily, there are ways you can keep eggs intact, regardless of whether you are traveling to visit family and friends, headed out on a camping trip, or shipping your eggs to customers. Consider these tips to make transporting eggs a breeze.
How Are Commercial Shell Eggs Transported to Stores?
Most people don’t think about how their food gets from the farm to their local grocery store. It’s safe to say that even fewer people think about the journey commercial shell eggs make before they become breakfast.
However, it’s important to understand how these eggs are transported so that you can have a better understanding of how YOU can transport your eggs wherever it is they need to go.
The first step in getting commercial shell eggs from the farm to the store is refrigeration. The eggs must be kept at a temperature below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at all times during transport. This helps to prevent the growth of bacteria and ensures the eggs are fresh.
Next, the eggs are placed into boxes or cases. These boxes or cases are then either stacked onto pallets or placed into racks.
Once the eggs are securely packed, they are loaded onto trucks for transport. The journey from farm to store usually takes one or two days, so the eggs must be continually cooled during transport.
When the truck arrives at its destination, the eggs are unloaded and taken to a storage area where they await packaging. Once they have been packaged, they are ready to be displayed for sale in your local grocery store!
Transporting Fresh Eggs
There are a number of ways you can transport farm fresh eggs. The easiest way to do this is to keep the eggs in their original cartons, but to wrap each egg individually in some kind of cushiony material.
Pack Eggs With Extra Cushioning to Prevent Breakages
To do this, simply tuck the eggs into the gaps in a plastic egg container. You can reuse egg cartons for this if you’d like.
Even though the container will close on its own, make sure you secure it tightly with duct tape. This will keep your eggs out of sunlight and ensure that the cartons don’t pop open on their own.
Then, place the carton inside a large Ziploc bag (the more bags, the better). This will ensure that eggs don’t get all over your other belongings in case they accidentally break.
Put the bag in a protected area of your bag, ensuring that it is surrounded by other soft, cushiony items.
Use Pre-Broken Eggs (A Great Hack for Campers!)
You can also travel with pre-broken eggs. Obviously, this isn’t something you would want to do if you are bringing eggs to someone as a gift, or to be used for hatching eggs.
However, if you’re headed out on a camping trip and want to have eggs with you for a quick breakfast, go ahead and break the eggs into a bowl and add any spices you might want. You can even add a bit of salt to help the eggs maintain their texture.
You can transport this mixture as is, or transfer it to an airtight container and freeze it. This will extend the egg’s shelf life, and make them more solid to travel with – no worries about broken shells here.
You can get pretty creative when it comes to traveling with pre-broken eggs. You can break the raw eggs into a small plastic bottle with a screw on lid, allowing you to have scrambled eggs at any time.
Just keep in mind cracked eggs only last about a day or two in the fridge, so the quicker you reach your destination, the better.
You can also break them into food-grade plastic bags, and then lay them flat and freeze them. These eggs will take up less space and be a bit easier to travel with.
How Do You Keep Eggs Cold When Camping?
The first step is to make sure you pack your eggs properly. If they’re not packed properly, they’re more likely to break and then you’ll have a real mess on your hands.
Pack them in a cooler or backpack with ice packs or snow around them so they stay nice and cold. You can also put them in a container with sawdust or sand to insulate them.
If you’re camping in an area where there are wild animals, you’ll need to be careful about collecting your eggs.
Make sure you collect them often so they don’t have a chance to get warm. If you’re not able to collect them every day, bury them in the snow or sawdust around your campsite so they stay chilled.
When it comes time to cook your eggs, if you’ve collected them properly and kept them chilled, they should be good as new! You can cook them however you like – scrambled, sunny side up, poached, etc. Now enjoy your fresh eggs while camping!
If you’re shipping eggs, you first need to think about your purposes in doing so. Are you sending a dozen eggs for your family to enjoy, or are you shipping hatching eggs?
Select High Quality Eggs for Shipping
Either way, select only the highest quality eggs for shipping. Avoid sending out eggs that are covered in mud or chicken poop, and check the shells for irregularities.
You don’t want to wash eggs that will be used for hatching in an incubator, and you should avoid this whenever possible if you are traveling with or shipping consumable eggs, too.
Eggs that have been washed need to be refrigerated, and definitely cannot be used for hatching.
Instead, select the eggs that are already the cleanest possible, and use only eggs that are normally shaped and not too large or too small.
Eggs that are not evenly sized will cause your egg carton to have bulges and gaps, leading to movement of eggs inside the cartons.
You should also select eggs that are as fresh as possible. This probably goes without saying, but the longer an egg remains outside of refrigeration, the less edible it will be.
How Long Can Eggs Last When Being Shipped?
Eggs can generally last for about a month without refrigeration as long as they are not washed, but if you are shipping eggs for hatching you want to get them to their final destination within just a few days so that they don’t lose any viability.
Put Together Shipping Supplies
Once you have picked out your eggs, gather your shipping supplies. You can ship full egg cartons, but as with any time you are traveling with eggs or transporting them to another destination, you should make sure the egg carton is sealed with duct tape.
You can also use egg cartons cut in half, but again, make sure it is securely closed so you don’t have to worry about it popping open and your eggs jumping out.
Whatever kind of container you choose to ship your eggs in, make sure your eggs are securely wrapped.
Some people recommend using multiple layers of bubble wrap, with each piece taped firmly to the eggs, but you could also use napkins, newspaper, or cloth.
Facilities Where You Can Ship Eggs
Ship your eggs via the United States Postal Service’s Priority Mail option. You can usually fit about three half cartons into a medium-sized priority mailing box.
According to the USPS website, “the transportation of eggs is prohibited by Postal Service regulations unless they are packed so they will not break and have been declared by the shipper to be unbreakable.”
This means that, as long as your eggs are properly packed and you inform the Postal Service that they are unbreakable, you should have no problem shipping them through the mail.
However, we recommend that you check with your local Post Office to see if there are any additional restrictions in place before shipping your eggs.
UPS and FedEx also sometimes ship eggs, but it varies and is therefore not recommended if you want a reliable shipment.
The less airspace there is inside the box, the better. You don’t want to overfill the box, as this can compress and then break your eggs, but you also want to avoid empty space.
It’s not a bad idea to place your initial batch of egg cartons inside a box, which then goes inside the main Priority Mail box. This will provide extra cushioning, eliminating the likelihood that your eggs will get crushed.
The less padding you have, the more likely your eggs will arrive cracked. Any movement inside the package can cause the eggs to bang against the sides of the box or each other, leading to cracking.
Secure Everything and Use Solid Packing Materials
You also need to make sure the eggs are well-secured. You need to make sure the entire carton will stay put inside the box, and you also need to use solid packing materials.
Bubble wrap tends to work best for shipping eggs, but you need to make sure it goes all the way around the egg and secure it with tape on the sides, bottom, and top. A bulky egg is a protected egg!
Before you drop off the eggs at the post office, make sure you write somewhere – visibly – on the outside of the box that this package contains fragile eggs.
Mark the Box as Fragile
Write fragile on every side of the box to avoid any confusion. If the eggs you are shipping are hatching eggs, make sure you indicate that as well, as you don’t want your eggs to pass through an x-ray.
When you ship Priority Mail, request a signature. Try not to ship any later than a Wednesday so that you don’t have to worry about the package arriving on a weekend.
The longer the package is in transit, the more likely it is that your eggs will be exposed to extremely cold or hot temperatures or be destroyed altogether.
Make sure the person you are sending the eggs to knows exactly when they have shipped and will arrive.
Consider asking to have the eggs held at the receiving post office – all you need to do is mark the box so that it says “Hold and Call for Pick-Up” with the recipient’s contact number.
This will keep the eggs at a climate-controlled post office instead of riding around in a postal truck all day.
Flying with Eggs
If you’re planning on bringing eggs on a plane, carrying the eggs through security is your best bet. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), fresh eggs are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags.
However, carrying eggs in your carry-on is recommended, as they will be less likely to be manhandled and broken as a result.
Putting Eggs in Your Carry On
If you bring eggs in your carry on, you will likely be asked to take them out for inspection. Keep the eggs well cushioned in your carry on, and keep your bag organized and clutter-free to make it easier to get through security quickly.
Remember that if you keep the egg carton in your carry-on and don’t take it out for inspection, there’s a higher likelihood that your bag will get flagged for inspection.
This will require you to empty the contents of your entire bag, costing you more time as you are trying to get through security. TSA agents will almost always ask to open the egg cartons, but they should let them through without a problem.
Will Scanning Eggs in Airport Security Harm Them?
If you are trying to get fertile hatching eggs through airport security, you might want to ask that they be manually inspected instead of run through the x-ray scanner.
There’s not a lot of evidence either way to suggest that scanning eggs can result in a loss of fertility, but this saves you any worrying down the road.
Once you get on the plane, avoid putting the egg cartons in the overhead bins.
Eggs are more likely to shift around if they’re stored above you, and placing them under the seat in front of you ensures you will have total control over how much your eggs shift around in transit.
How Do You Pack Eggs in a Suitcase?
Start by placing the foam cooler or egg carton inside the suitcase. If using a foam cooler, line the bottom with styrofoam peanuts or crumpled paper towels.
This will help to cushion the eggs and keep them from moving around during transport. If using an egg carton, fill any empty spaces with styrofoam peanuts or crumpled paper towels so that the eggs are snug and secure.
Carefully place the eggs inside the foam cooler or egg carton, taking care not to stack them too high. If you are concerned about them breaking, you can place each egg in its own Ziploc bag before packing them in the suitcase.
Once all of the eggs are packed, close the lid on the foam cooler or egg carton and place it in the suitcase. If desired, surround it with clothing items or other soft items to help keep it secure during travel.
If you will be traveling for more than a day or two, you may want to consider adding ice packs to your suitcase. This will help to keep the eggs cool and prevent them from going bad.
Simply place the ice packs on top of or around the foam cooler or egg carton. Be sure to pack them so that they will not leak during travel! And that’s it—you’re ready to hit the road with your perfectly packed eggs!
How do you transport eggs when camping?
When transporting eggs while camping, it is important to take measures to prevent them from breaking. One way to do this is to put them in a hard-sided cooler with plenty of ice packs.
Another option is to wrap each egg individually in bubble wrap before placing them in a box or bag. It is also a good idea to keep them stored in a cool, dark place, such as the bottom of a cooler or in a shaded spot in the campsite.
One of the most important steps in transporting chicken eggs is to ensure that they are not exposed to extreme temperatures.
Eggs should be stored in cool, dark places, and they should never be allowed to freeze. In addition, it is important to keep eggs from becoming too warm, as this can cause them to start developing.
Another important consideration is to avoid exposing eggs to direct sunlight, as this can increase the risk of bacterial growth. When packing eggs for transport, it is best to use an egg carton that has been specifically designed for this purpose.
Crumpled newspaper can also be used to cushion the eggs and help prevent them from moving around during transport.
One way to do this is to place them in an egg carton, which will help to cushion them from bumps and jostling.
Alternatively, you can line a box with padding material such as bubble wrap or foam peanuts. If you’re transporting a large number of eggs, it’s also important to pack them snugly so they don’t move around during transport.
The length of time that fertilized eggs can remain unincubated depends on the species of bird.
For example, chicken eggs must be incubated within 18 hours of being laid, or they will die. In contrast, duck eggs can survive for up to two weeks without incubation.
If the eggs get too cold, the embryos will not develop properly and the chicks will not hatch. However, if the eggs get too hot, the embryos will over-develop and die.
Therefore, it is important to keep the eggs at a stable temperature in order to ensure proper development. Eggs that have been exposed to cold temperatures may still hatch, but there is a greater risk of deformities and death.
Remember to consider the ultimate purpose of traveling with your eggs, as this will make your decisions on how to transport them a bit easier.
If your only goal is to bring along eggs that you can eat on a trip, breaking and freezing the eggs might be the easiest way to go.
However, it’s easy to preserve the integrity of a whole egg and make sure it arrives to its final destination safe, sound, and uncracked – you just need to provide plenty of extra padding!
Rebekah is a full-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens, sheep, and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies. She has a huge greenhouse and does lots of DIY projects with her husband in her ever-growing homesteading endeavor. Learn more about Rebekah here.