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 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.
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.
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.
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 as 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. 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.
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? 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, 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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 be to be manhandled and broken as a result.
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.
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.
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!