Are you getting ready for your next camping trip and wondering how to safely pack eggs so they don’t break? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We have several tricks to keep your eggs whole. We also have alternatives to whole eggs, and advice to you keep safe from food poisoning. So read on to learn everything you need to know about storing eggs for your next trip!
Safe storage guidelines
However you pack you eggs, you need to be sure to store them safely. Let’s start with where you got the eggs – were they store bought or fresh from a farm or backyard laying hens?
The type of egg you have matters. In the United States, commercially processed eggs are stored differently than fresh eggs. In Europe, you can follow the recommendations for fresh eggs. Always dispose of cracked eggs.
Grocery store eggs
Eggs in grocery stores were washed and sanitized to kill bacteria (Salmonella poisoning is a serious form of food poisoning from a bacteria which commonly infects chickens). Afterward, they were cooled in a refrigerator and they need to say cool and dry to prevent bacteria growth. Follow the FDA Guidelines for storing eggs:
- Refrigerate promptly at 40° F. Do not freeze eggs in the shell
- Whole, raw eggs are best within 3-5 weeks.
- Hard boiled eggs last 1 week after cooking (in shell or peeled)
- A frozen mix of egg whites and yolks is good for one year. Egg whites may also be frozen separately.
- Refrigerate cooked egg dishes and use them within 4 days.
When camping, you need a cooler with ice or an electric cooler to keep store-bought eggs cold. For long trips, it’s a good idea to make sure you can find additional ice or have electricity for your cooler.
Farm fresh eggs
You may store farm-fresh eggs at room temperature, but it’s important to keep them dry. Water helps bacteria penetrate the eggshell. If you refrigerate the eggs, they must stay cold afterward to prevent condensation or “sweating”.
Because your eggs have not been sanitized, keep them separate from other foods. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling them. Anything that touches them may be contaminated and should be washed or discarded.
How to Store Whole Eggs for Camping
You need to protect your fragile eggs so they don’t get crushed or broken from bouncing around. Choose a hard plastic container with some cushioning and then pack in a cooler. These recomendations are best for car camping where you have space to follow the safety guidelines.
Plastic egg holder
I like to a plastic egg container designed for camping. These separate the eggs from each other and provide enough protection in a cooler. They are available in different sizes, commonly holding 2, 6, or 12 eggs. Add a layer of paper towels to keep them from moving inside the case. I place the holder in a plastic bag (to keep it dry) and pack it in my cooler with ice.
Wide mouth water bottle
Another trick is to place the eggs in a wide-mouth water bottle with some paper towels between them so you don’t crack the egg shells. Stuff the extra space so they don’t move around in the bottle.
Tupperware or plastic storage container
Any rigid plastic container is a great option and will protect your eggs, just be sure to separate the eggs and add some padding to prevent movement. You don’t want the eggs cracking each other as you drive down a bumpy road.
The egg carton from the store is the next best choice if you don’t have a rigid container. Just be sure to add some extra padding and a plastic bag to keep the eggs dry in your cooler.
Plastic bag with padding
I see websites suggesting you use a plastic Ziploc bag with padding – just be careful that nothing can crush the eggs. Don’t place anything on top of the eggs.
Bubble wrap is a wonderful padding material for eggs, but it won’t protect them from crushing. Use it with a rigid container or take care where you place the eggs with other food and ice packs.
Lose the shells – Break the eggs before your trip
Instead of worrying about fragile whole eggs, consider cracking the eggs at home. This is also a great choice if you only want egg whites. Store your liquid eggs in a plastic bag or empty water bottle. They are good for 2-4 days refrigerated in this form.
In order to freeze eggs, you will need to crack them and blend the egg whites and yolks. You can freeze egg whites separately, but egg yolks don’t freeze well (based on the USDA website – I haven’t tried it). I like to freeze eggs in the portions I plan to use before my camping trips. They usually thaw in my cooler but will still have plenty of life for a long weekend trip. Frozen eggs last 1 year per the USDA.
Cook your eggs first
A great way to enjoy hard-boiled eggs is to cook them at home before your trip. This is an easy way to enjoy a no-cook food and skip the camp stove. The FDA recommends hard-boiled eggs be refrigerated, and they should only be left at room temperature for 2 hours. Personally, I feel this is overly conservative. Workers have packed hard-boiled eggs in brown bag lunches for generations. There are also plenty of online stories of older people who claimed it was common to eat hard-boiled Easter eggs sitting on a table for days. I can’t recommend this – use your own judgment here.
Fresh egg alternatives for camping
But what if you have a long camping trip planned or you won’t be able to carry a cooler? I’ve found there are 4 types of dried eggs available. It’s important to think about what you are cooking because some work better and worse for different needs. Look at the labels closely so you know what you are purchasing. These options are also good for long term food storage.
Freeze dried scrambled eggs
If you want scrambled eggs, buying pre-cooked freeze-dried scrambled eggs is a good option. Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to find these. Mountain House makes a freeze dried breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon which is pretty good. I’ve seen several DIY backpacking recipes use the eggs from this for other meals – it works, just be aware the eggs have a bacon flavor to them. I sometimes see freeze dried scrambled eggs like this on Amazon, but they are expensive and tend to come and go.
Dried whole egg powder
Whole powdered eggs are great for everything except making eggs. Wait – what? Put it in your pancake mix, cornbread, or meatloaf. Egg powder plus water is a great substitute for eggs in recipes. I make homemade pancake mix with egg powder regularly and it’s awesome.
Unfortunately, cooking scrambled eggs or omelets with egg powder will give you poor flavor and texture. After reading multiple blog posts of people trying it, I haven’t bothered.
If you want to cook eggs, look for dry products specifically intended for cooking this way. OvaEasy dehydrated egg “crystals” are my gold standard for cooking eggs. I’ve used them on some backpacking trips and they are impressive. Keep in mind, they reconstitute into raw eggs and they must be cooked. They are also expensive! Try one, and if you like them, buy in bulk to get the package price down.
Scrambled egg mixes
Several brands sell scrambled egg mixes with mixed reviews online (I haven’t tried any of these personally). They often include oil and powdered milk to improve the texture of the cooked eggs. Augason Farms has a popular mix, but it’s only available in a large #10 can – so I hope you need a lot of eggs! Fortunately, it is packaged for long-term storage, so you can keep it for years (without opening).
Dehydrating eggs at home
Some backpackers and campers dehydrate raw eggs at home. Making dehydrated eggs at home is risky, and you won’t find any processes that food safety experts will recommend as safe. The issue is Salmonella bacteria which may not be killed by dehydrating at low temperatures. Dehydrating at higher temperatures will cook the eggs and make them unpalatable. I plan to try pasteurizing some eggs and then dehydrating them – I’ll update this post with the results at that time.
Common questions – Quick Answers
Food storage articles
If you want to learn more about storing food for camping, emergencies, or long term storage, see our other food storage articles here.