This isn’t something that’s going to happen many times but occasionally we’re going to be lumbered with the problem of having an egg or two that needs to be disposed of.
There won’t be a problem if you put the odd egg in with compost. I’ve done it. I suspect most people have and I haven’t seen anything extraordinary happen as a result.
I’ve found 4 things you should think about if you put eggs in the compost.
1. Don’t put them in whole
If you put an egg, or a number of eggs, in with the compost and they are complete eggs in their shells, this is asking for trouble. There are two problems with this. Firstly it may be found by investigating rodents. Entire eggs in there shells will stick around for a while. The longer they are there, the greater the chance that they will be discovered. If they are discovered, the rodent may take the view that more eggs will turn up. This will lead to more focused regular visits in the future.
Problem number two is, given that they aren’t discovered by a passing rodent, eggs have a habit of exploding when they reach a certain age. When this happens expect a bad smell. As smells go, there are smells that compete with the smell of rotten eggs when they explode but not many. So, if you have to dispose of whole eggs in the compost, crack them open on the compost heap or in the bin.
2. Add some white-lime
Hydrated white-lime is a big problem-solver when making compost from anything. It’s main value is the way it neutralizes acids to encourage a full decomposition of all things organic. It will also play a part in deterring rodents. Sprinkle some hydrated white-lime over the broken eggs and rodents won’t be so keen to put their noses in it. You will also notice that the flies will keep away. White-lime will also help accelerate the rotting process. If you are disposing of hard-boiled eggs, sprinkling white-lime will have the same effect.
To find out more about the value of hydrated white-lime, we have a post that covers the subject. Check out ‘What does lime do to compost?’.
3. Don’t let pets see you put eggs in compost
This won’t apply to everyone. I’m sure there are people who have dogs that are impeccably well behaved. You need to understand, if you haven’t already found out for yourself, there are dogs that are crafty. They’re watching and they know what they’re looking at. If they get to know that there’s something interesting gone on the compost heap they may chance it. The first you will know is the dog suddenly appearing, covered in compost after digging his way in to retrieve the prize.
4. Always spread them out
If it should happen that you have a batch of eggs that need to be disposed of, maybe found hidden somewhere and they’re way passed their sell-by date, don’t put them all together in the compost. You need to crack them open in different places. Eggs are quite potent, don’t allow a concentration in one small area, it will be much better to spread them out. If you have a number of eggs in the compost, don’t forget to give them a generous sprinkle of white-lime.
How to store eggs
Knowing the best way to store eggs will reduce the need to throw any away. There appears to be some doubt about what should be done to keep eggs fresh. Looking around I find that some say that you must refrigerate eggs others say that you don’t. It rather depends on where you are and where your eggs come from.
You may be in apart of the world where eggs come from a’ factory farm’. These may be power washed which removes any bacteria that contaminates the surface of the egg during farming process. The power wash also removes a thin outer layer of the shell, leaving it vulnerable to further potential contamination. This is corrected by applying a thin layer of oil which will provide some protection from contamination and will help prevent the egg from drying out.
Can I put eggs in the compost? Yes but you may need to hold your nose.
Eggs that have been through the power-wash/oiled process need to be stored in a refrigerator. Store them at the back of the refrigerator where the temperature will be a constant level. Don’t be tempted to store them in the door. Every time you open the door, the contents in the door will be subjected to the temperature going up for a moment then back down again when the door shuts. This won’t be too much of a problem for butter and cheese but it will shorten the keeping time-span for eggs.
How long can you keep eggs in a refrigerator? The gathered advice is, up to 5 weeks. This will, in most cases, take it past the ‘best-before’ date but no one appears to be too bothered about that.
At 5 weeks, in the refrigerator, they aren’t likely to have reached stink-bomb territory but you really need to use your eyes and nose when cracking eggs regardless of the ‘best-before’ date. If you are in the habit of boiling eggs, then it’s probably not wise to allow them to hang around too long. Newer eggs for boiling, older eggs for cakes, may be a good strategy.
The general view appears to be that unwashed eggs don’t need to be refrigerated. The outer shells are intact and therefore can be stored out on the shelf. How long can they stay out and stay fresh? The advice seems to be: for no longer than 1 week. There is also a view that eggs that have been refrigerated must remain refrigerated. You mustn’t leave them out and expect them to last any longer because they’ve been in a refrigerator.
Someone has asked: Can you compost egg cartons? If the carton is made from moulded paper pulp, it can go straight into the compost bin or heap. It will quickly absorb moisture from everything around it and start to rot down. Paper-pulp egg cartons can be categorized as a ‘carbo/brown’ which will balance against any nitrate-rich ingredients in the composting mass.