Hard-boiled eggs are a delicious and healthy snack and an essential ingredient in summer outdoor favorites like deviled eggs and egg salad.
However, if you’re taking boiled eggs with you to eat later or left them out overnight, you may wonder how to store boiled eggs without refrigeration or whether boiled eggs are safe to eat if they’ve been left out. Here are key points that you should always remember.
- Refrigeration and Time Limit: Boiled eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees) to prevent bacterial growth. Eggs left at room temperature can be safe for up to 2 hours unless it’s very hot.
- Egg Storage and Shell Porosity: Even in their shells, boiled eggs are vulnerable to spoiling due to the porous nature of eggshells. Refrigerating them in an airtight container or plastic wrap helps preserve freshness and prevent odor absorption.
- Identifying Spoiled Eggs: Spoiled boiled eggs can be identified through changes in shell color, a distinct rotten smell, discoloration of the yolk or egg white, and abnormal egg texture such as sliminess or mold.
- Storing Without Refrigeration: While refrigeration is preferred, boiled eggs can be stored without it by coating them in a layer of edible oil, like mineral oil, which acts as a protective barrier, with the eggs being flipped weekly. This method can keep eggs safe for 5 to 10 weeks.
Read on to learn more on how to store boiled eggs.
Is It Okay Not to Refrigerate Boiled Eggs?
No. Boiled eggs should be refrigerated. After boiling the eggs (preferably from boiling water versus cold), they should be refrigerated within 2 hours or 1 hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees.
As with most foods, leaving boiled eggs at room temperatures increases the risk of spoiling and the growth of harmful bacteria.
Refrigerating boiled eggs prevents bacteria growth and ensures that they are safe to eat.
Do Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Shell Need to be Refrigerated?
Yes, hard-boiled eggs in the shell need to be refrigerated. This is because the shell of an egg is porous for gases, and boiling (and washing) removes the “bloom,” or the protective cuticle that eggs are naturally covered with.
This means that, even in the shell, a hard-boiled egg can oxidize and spoil and may be infected by harmful bacteria.
In addition, because eggshells are porous, it is best to refrigerate them in a plastic wrap or airtight container, which will preserve the moisture of the egg, and prevent it from taking on other smells and flavors from nearby foods.
How Long Can Boiled Eggs Sit Out at Room Temperature?
Boiled eggs can sit out at room temperature for 2 hours unless it is very hot.
At temperatures over 90 degrees, boiled eggs should only sit out for no more than 1 hour.
What Happens If You Eat Boiled Eggs That Have Been Left Out?
Boiled eggs that have been left out are susceptible to contamination by unsafe bacteria.
Eggs that have been boiled and left out in the shell remain warm for a very long time and in the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow.
Boiled eggs in the shell that have been removed from the refrigerator and left out produce moisture from condensation, which also attracts bacteria and promotes spoilage.
In many cases, you may be able to eat an egg that has been left out overnight and not get sick.
However, it is a risk, and eating a boiled egg that has been left out may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Therefore, the FDA recommends never leaving a boiled egg out for more than 2 hours.
How Do You Know if a Boiled Egg is Spoiled?
There are several signs that a boiled egg has spoiled and gone bad. Here is what to look for:
If the color of the eggshell has changed and turned brown or grey, the egg has spoiled and should not be eaten.
Even if it has been boiled, a rotten egg has a distinctive unpleasant smell.
You may be able to smell sulfur through the shell, or the smell may be released when you crack the egg’s shell.
Never eat an egg that has a strong, unpleasant odor.
A boiled egg that has spoiled may have a yolk that is green, grey, or brown.
The egg white may turn greyish in color. Never eat an egg with a discolored yolk or white.
A boiled egg that has gone bad will often have a slimy or spongy appearance, either white or the yolk.
Rarely, an egg yolk may develop mold and have a grey or green, furry texture.
Never eat an egg that is furry or slimy.
How to Store Boiled Eggs Without Refrigeration
You may have read that it’s possible to preserve eggs without refrigeration.
Applying a coat of edible oil to the outside of an eggshell replaces the natural protective cuticle of the egg, preventing bacteria and oxygen from penetrating inside the egg and spoiling it.
To store boiled eggs without refrigeration, follow these steps:
1. Get a High-Quality Oil
Choose a food-safe, tasteless, odorless oil that does not require refrigeration.
Many people recommend mineral oil, but you may also use canola oil, soybean oil, or other flavorless vegetable oils.2.
2. Wash and Dry the Eggs And The Carton or Storage Container
Wash eggs by quickly misting them with water, scrubbing the shell, and drying them.
Don’t allow eggs to be immersed or soak in water during washing.
If your egg carton has held raw eggs, it should be washed, disinfected, and dried before placing clean eggs back into it.
3. Warm Oil in a Bowl
Place the oil in a bowl and gently warm it in the microwave for 10 seconds.4.
4. Immerse the Eggs in the Warm Oil
Wear latex gloves while handling your eggs.
Take each clean, dry egg and immerse it in the bowl of warm oil. Ensure the egg is completely coated in oil, and allow the excess to drip away.
5. Place Oiled Eggs in a Carton or Container
Place each egg in a clean, dry egg carton, pointy side down.
6. Flip the Eggs Every Week
Every week, flip the entire egg container upside down. Regularly flipping the eggs keeps the yolk centered in the egg, protecting and preserving it.
Eggs coated in oil and regularly flipped can be stored in a cool, dry place for 5 weeks or up to 10 weeks.
The oil coating provides a barrier against bacteria and oxygen that can spoil an egg and preserve moisture and nutrients inside the egg, preventing evaporation.
Boiled eggs should always be refrigerated and should not be left out for longer than 2 hours. This can also apply to eggs that have been steamed.
In the refrigerator, eggs should be stored in an airtight container to prevent the porous shell from losing moisture and taking on unpleasant refrigerator smells.
In addition, because eggs are highly susceptible to salmonella and other contaminants, you should never eat an egg, fresh or boiled, that has an unusual color, texture, or smell.
However, you can store boiled eggs without refrigeration for 5 weeks or more by coating them in oil to protect and preserve them.
An oil coating can also be a great way to protect boiled eggs if you want to carry them with you for a healthy snack on the go, store them for more extended periods in or out of the refrigerator, and keep eggs safe and healthy to eat for longer.