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How Long Do Hard-Boiled Eggs Last? Can They Go Bad?

Eggs are nutritious, and they are great for snacks and for many egg-based cuisines. Boiling is the easiest and healthier method to deal with eggs. It just takes about ten minutes for the eggs to reach the hard-boiled stage. Once you have mastered the timing of boiling hard-boiled eggs, it won’t be bad as you can eat it at any time you wish. Be it for breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner, eggs are just good.


Let’s say it has been almost two weeks since you bought many eggs, and you still have plenty on hand. You may be worried that it won’t be fresh anymore if you let it stay for a longer time, and you already ran out of egg storage space in your fridge. Hence, you are left with no choice but to cook them instead. 


There are many options to choose from. You can turn them into cakes, bread, and other baked goods. But, doing that is just an additional expense for other baking ingredients. In the end, you have chosen to boil them instead. 


After boiling them, your next problem is how do you store them if you are not planning to consume all of them today? Can you place it in the pantry? The fridge? The freezer? What would be its maximum shelf life? And how will you know that it is time for you to discard it?

This article will explain the storage, shelf life, and spoilage of hard-boiled eggs. Just sit tight as we reveal the information that you just need.


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How to store boiled eggs?


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First, keep the hard-boiled eggs in an airtight container or freezer bag. If they are unpeeled, you can put it in a plastic container.


Next, put them in the fridge! The pantry is out of the options. Yes, the best storage for hard-boiled eggs is in the refrigerator. And it should be stored there all the time. You must put it inside an airtight container to prevent spoilage caused by moisture and other contaminants. Also, keep it away from pungent foods. 


If the eggs are already peeled, try to keep them moist by using a damp paper towel. Cover them on the bottom and top before placing them inside a container.


Your refrigeration temperature must not go beyond 40 F (4 C) to slow down bacterial growth. Position the container filled with hard-boiled eggs in your fridge’s main body (or in the central part). Eggs are sensitive to temperature changes. Putting it near the door, the area where the temperature often fluctuates will only complicate its shelf life.


Here is another tip to make use of your hard-boiled eggs. Actually, you can preserve it by pickling them! Typically, pickled eggs come with a brine that is either high in vinegar or salt. These are preservatives used to prevent bacterial growth, such as Salmonella. Just go over the internet and search for pickled egg recipes that may suit your taste. 


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In general, keeping your food in proper storage conditions gives you some benefits: you get to eat something safe and healthier, cut food costs, and help the environment by preventing food wastes.


Can I freeze hard-boiled eggs?

No, it is not recommended to freeze whole hard-boiled eggs inside the freezer. That will only damage the cellular structure and reduce its shelf life. Once you have that thawed, the egg whites will become rubbery, discolored, and inedible while the egg yolk becomes tough and watery. Overall, it makes them less enjoyable for consumption.


However, there are cases that people reasonably freeze hard-boiled eggs for salads that have sliced or cubed eggs, though. 


If you insist on freezing the eggs, chop or grate it, then place it inside a tightly sealed container or freezer bag. Do not forget to write a label on the container, indicating the date you boiled it. For some, they only keep cooked and freeze yolks. These are used as a tasty garnish for different dishes. 


Can Hard-Boiled Eggs Go Bad?


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Eggs are perishable foods. Peeled or not, it is recommended to consume your hard-boiled eggs within one week after cooking. 


For pre-peeled eggs, the ones you got from the store, do not wait for a full week before consuming them. They are not like freshly harvested raw eggs that can stay for a longer time. 


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When you boil an egg, the protective layer is compromised, and the pores open. Then, they become susceptible to air, and it creates an opportunity for harmful bacteria such as Salmonella to invade the insides. Therefore, it is reasonable enough to store hard-boiled eggs inside the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. 


How long do they last?


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So, which one lasts longer? The peeled hard-boiled eggs, or the unpeeled ones? The answer: Unpeeled hard-boiled eggs last longer than the peeled ones. Peeled eggs can stay in your refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, while the unpeeled ones can last up to 7 days or one week.


You may already be used to peeling hard-boiled eggs after cooking and cooling. Well, Just choose whichever is convenient or practical to you. Either you peel a few eggs for the next 2 or 3 days and leave the rest with the shells on. Your choice! Perhaps, it is best to wait to peel your hard-boiled eggs when you are up to eat it or use it for a recipe if you are after for its best quality.


It is not safe to keep your hard-boiled eggs at room temperature for a long time. Peeled or unpeeled, don’t let the hard-boiled eggs stay under room temperature for more than 2 hours. It should be kept in the refrigerator within 2 hours. 


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Here’s a tip. Especially to those who are not good at recalling dates, if ever you cannot consume all the hard-boiled eggs in one day, you better label the shell or the container with a date on when you boiled them. 


Pre-peeled eggs, especially the ones that were bought from the stores, never fail to check the expiration date. Some suppliers label their hard-boiled pre-peeled eggs, informing them to consume it within two to three days.


Although freezing eggs is not encouraged, as mentioned earlier, your chopped or grated hard-boiled eggs can stay up to a month or two in the freezing temperatures. If you want to thaw it, place the container in the refrigerator overnight. This must be consumed within two days.


If you opt to preserve hard-boiled eggs by using the pickling method, that can stay in your refrigerator for up to four months. 


How to tell if they have gone bad?


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When you open your refrigerator, you may sniff something gassy at first. That is the hydrogen sulfide emitted by your hard-boiled eggs. Hydrogen sulfide naturally forms in eggs when you boil it. Don’t panic yet because that is just a regular and harmless occurrence. The smell will just dissolve away after a few hours. Now, go check the eggs!


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A perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg has a creamy texture with a deep yellow to golden yolk in color. Remember that the longer you boil the egg, the paler the yolk gets until it turns greenish or grayish. 

You might get alarmed if you notice that the hard-boiled egg’s yolk has an unappealing greenish-gray color. 


To ease your worries, it is not rotten. You just have a harmless overcooked egg. It turned greenish because there was a natural reaction between the egg yolk’s iron and the egg white’s hydrogen sulfide. At this point, this may affect the texture and mouthfeel, but it is still safe to eat it.


It is simple to tell if your eggs have gone bad. If the egg’s outer shell looks okay, then cut it into halves to inspect the insides. If the egg is unpeeled, you need to crack it to smell it properly. When you smell something similar to sulfur or smells excessively rotten, then let it go. 


On the other hand, if you see the yolk or egg white turned dark brown, or you see black or green spots on them, that’s a sign of bacterial contamination. And, if the hard-boiled egg developed an unmistakable odor, a slimy or chalky texture, then it is spoiled. That is not safe for consumption and should be discarded immediately. 


You may feel bad to toss it away but, think about it. It’s better to choose the safe option. It is never best to consume boiled eggs past their prime. Or else, you will be putting yourself at risk of foodborne illness that comes with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 


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Now, if you are going for a picnic, pack the hard-boiled eggs in an insulated cooler that contains enough ice to keep them cold. Place the cooler in the passenger compartment of your car. Once you reach the picnic area, keep the cooler under a shade, and keep the lid closed when it is not in use. If you are bringing some to school or work, it would be good that you pack the hard-boiled eggs with your frozen juice box or with a small frozen gel pack.

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