An odd egg

January 27, 2014 • 3:28 pm

by Matthew Cobb

I bought some eggs the other day, and took them out of the egg-carton to put in the fridge (yes I know you don’t have to keep them in the fridge—but why do we have those egg-shaped things in the door then?). Anyway, although five of the six eggs were quite normal (some UK shops now sell eggs in 10s, which just seems weird, but no more illogical than in half-dozens), one of the eggs was not. Here’s a couple of egg-straordinary pictures:



Not only is the shell not smooth, but is instead covered with these layers, the whole shell seems quite thick. I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe there is more than one shell here, and the poor hen covered the first egg with several shells? Any suggestions? The other eggs in the carton were all fine. And no, I haven’t eaten it yet. It’s sitting, unloved, in the fridge door. No one dares crack it, presumably from fear that one of these things might lurk within.

64 thoughts on “An odd egg

  1. I had an uncle in the egg distribution business in the 1960s. These happen now and then. There is nothing wrong with it.

  2. As someone who grew up on a farm with chickens I can tell you that egg is nothing special. It just got wrinkled inside the hen. The shell may be a little thicker but other than that it is no different than any other egg. I ate plenty of them as a kid since they were too ugly to sell.

  3. I have on occasion found eggs like that. They are perfectly normal and fine inside. Funnily enough, this seems to happen far more often with brown eggs than with white ones.

  4. Are egg containers sold sealed in the UK? Every mart I’ve been to in the US and Canada has them openable so customers can inspect the eggs to make sure they’re not cracked before picking a box.

  5. Google “shape of chicken eggshells” and the mystery will become less of a mystery.

    “ROUGH-SHELLED OR PIMPLED: Egg shells can have different textures causes by a range of things from excess calcium intake (pimpled eggs) to double-ovulation, disease, defective shell gland or rapid changes in lighting conditions (sandpaper eggs). As long as these types of eggs are found infrequently, there is no cause for concern.”

  6. I have seen eggs like this, but not all that often. I guess they’re screened out. Keeping eggs in the fridge makes them keep fresher much longer. They wouldn’t need it if the natural waxy layer which protects them were not washed off by the egg producer to make them free of chook-shit, but since it is, they do. It is a great tragedy in my opinion but there it is. Maybe if they were waxed like fruit it would help.

    1. You answered the question I had. A friend recently told me eggs had an exterior membrane that kept them fresh, but was removed for sale.

      It seemed plausible. For reproduction, the eggs need something to keep them from rotting.
      But, is “chook-shit” it’s name? Never heard that before.

      1. I’m Australian, all our eggs are washed. When I had chooks myself I learned what a difference the waxy layer makes, the eggs kept beautifully for many weeks out of the fridge and seemed newly laid when they were cracked. I had one chicken in particular who liked to hide her eggs, and I’d sometimes find two or three weeks worth in a pile under a bush, mine were free range chooks. At first I worried that they’d have deteriorated but they were still good as new, and I never knew them to be anything less than perfectly fresh. Oh gosh, I might have to get some more chickens, those eggs were amazing.

        1. Interesting. I know in Sweden you can choose to buy either washed and unwashed eggs, with most people opting for washed. Although I’m not sure how thus conforms to EU regulations, that call against washing…? I heard (which makes sense) a market for unwashed eggs forces farmers to keep the hens in sanitary conditions, as it it’s going to obvious on the eggs later on, if not washed. But I do agree! There’s something special about unwashed eggs! Washed eggs are chalky, rough, in comparison to the silky, almost flexible shell of an unwashed egg. And they have such shine, too!

  7. We had chickens for years and sold the eggs for a little extra cash. Occasionally an especially large egg would have a much smaller egg inside. We ate them all. Really liked the double yolked eggs. No one died. That one just had a rough trip down the oviduct.

  8. “I know you don’t have to keep them in the fridge”

    My understanding is that in the US, you should, because we wash the protective coating off the eggs, unlike the rest of the world.

  9. We lived on a farm and got some hens retired from the local eggery for being too old and were told that the wrinkled eggs were due to old age. We let them clean off the paper plates the cats ate soft cat food off,food scraps and some grain.and they would follow us enthusiastically. They were actually nice pets, but when they didn’t show up in the coop at night eventually the foxes got them.

  10. Out here on the liberal left coast we see lots of those strange eggs with wrinkles. Something would be seriously wrong if we didn’t. After all this is California.

  11. Do chicken farmers artificially select for egg smoothness? Maybe not. Could it be that the hen was exposures to an enzyme disruptor or teratogen? [My eco-toxicology is a bit rusty.]

    1. We had chickens when I was growing up. These would show up every once in a while. No big deal.

      Most of the time the producer or wholesaler would screen ones like this out before they got to the cartons. That’s why it would be rare to see one in a super market. Artificial selection, but not genetic. Don’t forget that the hens in the mass production plants have never mated with a rooster, so any selection for traits has to happen at the breeders’ facilities.

      I could believe that if any of a breeder’s hens was noticed to frequently lay unmarketable eggs, she’d get a pink slip.

      1. Who told you you don’t have eggs in the fridge?

        Amongst other things, I remember hearing it on the Sunday afternoon food/ farming programme on Radio 4 a few months ago.
        To be more precise, they were saying that there is no good reason to keep eggs in the fridge.

    1. Only if you’re immune to Salmonella.

      The late 1980s “salmonella scare” in the UK took place regardless of whether people kept their eggs in the fridge or not.
      If your egg-laying flock has got salmonella in it (without symptoms in chickens, AIUI) AND you don’t cook the eggs thoroughly (or make mayonnaise, I’m told), then you’re going to get the salmonella, regardless of whether you put the eggs in the fridge between laying and (under-)cooking and consuming the eggs.
      Actually, I think that the “Egwina” incident was mass hysteria, with almost no actual cases of disease. But that doesn’t change the advice or (non-)necessity for keeping eggs at room temperature.

        1. So I’m told – never used or made the stuff myself – which is the point. It’s the cooking of the eggs that protects against Salmonella infections, not the storage of the eggs in the fridge. If the eggs have Salmonella in them, then they’re hazardous, regardless of how you store them afterwards.

          1. I have regularly made mayonnaise myself for many decades, never had a problem. I also frequently ate “goggle moggle” (a Russian sweet made of raw egg yolks beaten with sugar until the mixture becomes like very thick white cream, delicious) throughout my toddlerhood and childhood, and made it regularly until I discovered I had diabetes type II. Never a salmonella problem.

            1. The problem of Salmonella in eggs was probably considerably over-hyped – it was a classic “health scare story” – but the fact remains that chickens can asymptomatically host strains of Salmonella which are unpleasant if not dangerous in humans. And such strains can circulate, asymptomatically, in large industrial hen-houses, so outbreaks have the potential to be big, if one happened. That they don’t, or are rare, suggests that the people who run these places are actually competent at doing their jobs – but that’s not headline-worthy news.
              I’ll ask the wife if she knows this Kogel Mogel stuff. Sounds “interesting”. But it won’t be for between one and 4 weeks, because I’m at work now.

  12. That is a Republican egg, specifically, a Tea Party egg.

    Do not eat that egg!

    That egg came from a chicken, probably from Texas, who did not have health insurance.


    Do not eat that egg!

  13. A solution of sodium silicate (“water glass”) will seal the pores of the egg shell and they are said to keep up to nine months; I’ve also heard the old-timers stored them in slightly damp sand or sawdust in basements or root cellars. I had chickens for years, and found that eggs keep perfectly well on the counter (if cool)for up to two weeks (we’re talking about farm-raised, “free-range” eggs, here, not the systemic-salmonella-infested factory farm ones).

    Quick way to check eggs at the store:
    Pop the top on the carton, and twirl each egg a little; leaking ones won’t twist, being stuck to the carton.

    I used to pickle them when they were too abundant; did you know you can get nine dozen eggs in a gallon jug? Eggs need to be 10 days to two weeks old in order to peel easily after boiling (always start in cold, not hot water)- whenever I buy them, I always let them sit in the fridge for at least a week before boiling them.

    1. I used to pickle them when they were too abundant;

      Ah,the good old pickled egg. Guaranteed to get looks of utter revulsion from at least half the people in the bar when you order one with your pint. Ditto for chip shops. An absolute staple along with the “suspicious sausage” and a poke of chips ; deep-fried pizza not needed.

    2. Just after boiling egss, I put the hard-boiled eggs into a sieve and run cold water on them for a while then put them in a bowl of cold water for some ten minutes. This ensures that they are easy to peel.

  14. I worked as an egg candler as a kid. My job was to screen out these kinds of things before the eggs got packed. I would see dozens of these things every day. Also eggs with blood in them, eggs with a membrane and no shell, eggs the size of a grape…

  15. Growing up on a pheasant farm, on at least one occassion (though I think more than once) we found an egg whose narrow end ended in a completely calcified curly-cue..looking like the tip of an ice cream cone out of a soft-serve machine.

  16. Do not eat or open that egg! hatch it out. This could finally be the nail in Ray Comfort’s coffin: a croco-duck.

  17. Ocean voyagers know that eggs which have never been refrigerated (ie “farm fresh”) do not need to be refrigerated. But, factory raised eggs can be retro-fitted with the protective membrane – rub them with vasoline and they will keep for many weeks without refrigeration. Another trick is to turn them over every two days, I think this prevents the small void at the top from drying out.

  18. It seems odd to sell eggs in cartons of 10? Really?

    Growing up in the Netherlands boxes of 6 and 10 have been sold side-by-side for as long as I can remember (at least 30 years).

  19. What bothers me is that the shells of store-bought eggs (typically from suppliers which house millions of hens under lock-down conditions) have gotten increasingly thinner and more fragile. The yolks are smaller and more pale too, and the flavor is bland. One is immediately reminded of how eggs ought to be if you get a chance to break one laid by free-ranging hens on a family farm.

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