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How long can you leave hard boiled eggs out un-refrigerated until they spoil?

by (1127)
Updated about 3 hours ago
Created October 05, 2012 at 9:58 AM

How long can you leave hard boiled eggs out unrefrigerated until they spoil? I boiled mine 2 days ago, let them cool when they were done. The two I ate were perfectly boiled, not a spot of green, (my recipe, eggs submerged in cold salted water, bring to a hard boil for 5 minutes, turn off heat for five minutes then set them out to cool.) Prob is, it's been two days since I've done that and apart from the smell test I'm wondering how long they can stay out without spoiling since eggs are the kind of things that stay out for weeks not being refrigerated when laid by chickens. Thoughts? Facts? Anecdotes?

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:07 AM

Nope, out on the counter in a fruit bowl.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:06 AM

Yah, no need to eat them really. I have other food. I prolly should consider decorating them for Halloween since you just mentioned Easter Eggs. These are farmer market eggs that do seem a bit processed (because of the regularity of shape and cleanliness). I have a lady who brings me eggs from her chicken and am aware of that cuticle on it.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:04 AM

I still haven't eaten one, but I will and report back to you Michelle~

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1646 · October 06, 2012 at 10:18 AM

+1 for the mention of permeability! Egg shells are not vacuum sealed Tupperware.

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2328 · October 06, 2012 at 2:39 AM

yeah my mom always boils up a batch of eggs and leaves them out to eat whenever. never had any problems.

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6107 · October 05, 2012 at 12:03 PM

1) The smell test is unreliable. Plenty enough bacteria can be present to sicken someone before producing a detectable smell. If we could reliably detect spoilage or contamination by smell, few would get food-borne illness. 2) Egg shells do not prevent oxygen exposure. Gases readily pass through egg shells. This is how developing chicks obtain oxygen.

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1127 · October 05, 2012 at 9:58 AM

for clarity, the two I already ate where on the day they were cooked the other two have been out for two days and a half.

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11 Answers

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45 · October 05, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I always leave my boiled eggs in the kitchen, for days, sometimes more than a week; I don't see any pb with that :o

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2328 · October 06, 2012 at 2:39 AM

yeah my mom always boils up a batch of eggs and leaves them out to eat whenever. never had any problems.

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6107 · October 05, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Officially, two hours, based on CDC one-size fits all food safety recommendations:

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella from Eggs

Unofficially, we always left our boiled Easter eggs out all day and never got sick.

I would not personally eat any boiled egg that sat out for 2 days. I would eat a fresh, non-conventional egg (that is, fresh from the hen) that sat out, after cooking it. These eggs have a protective cuticle intact. After all, if such fresh eggs spoiled that quickly, chicks would never develop. (Yes, I know the eggs we eat are usually unfertilized.)

Boiling might temporarily sterilize the egg, but the shell may not really prevent bacteria from entering the egg. Egg shells are permeable, and I wouldn't count on the cuticle surviving boiling intact.

I don't think you should eat them. The smell test is not reliable. If it was, no one would get food poisoning.

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1646 · October 06, 2012 at 10:18 AM

+1 for the mention of permeability! Egg shells are not vacuum sealed Tupperware.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:06 AM

Yah, no need to eat them really. I have other food. I prolly should consider decorating them for Halloween since you just mentioned Easter Eggs. These are farmer market eggs that do seem a bit processed (because of the regularity of shape and cleanliness). I have a lady who brings me eggs from her chicken and am aware of that cuticle on it.

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324 · October 05, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I'd eat it. Worst case you're sick for a bit, best case you get to eat eggs.

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2029 · October 05, 2012 at 3:36 PM

This sounds like the beginning of an experiment!

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:04 AM

I still haven't eaten one, but I will and report back to you Michelle~

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11152 · October 05, 2012 at 11:41 AM

If they're still shelled, you can probably eat them. Oxygen is what encourages bacterial growth, among other things, and when they're contained within their shells they're still sealed off from air. Make sure there are no cracks in the shell. Trust me, if they're bad, you'll be able to smell them.

Never eat a peeled hard-boiled egg that's been left out for longer than a couple hours. Bad ju-ju!

Edit: Then I'll retract my answer.

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6107 · October 05, 2012 at 12:03 PM

1) The smell test is unreliable. Plenty enough bacteria can be present to sicken someone before producing a detectable smell. If we could reliably detect spoilage or contamination by smell, few would get food-borne illness. 2) Egg shells do not prevent oxygen exposure. Gases readily pass through egg shells. This is how developing chicks obtain oxygen.

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2175 · October 05, 2012 at 10:50 AM

If they are wrapped or in a sealed container I say go for it.

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1127 · October 07, 2012 at 6:07 AM

Nope, out on the counter in a fruit bowl.

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0 · September 29, 2014 at 7:00 PM

It depends on where the eggs are from..here in Europe, where we treat our food differently than in the U.S., for example, we don't refrigerate our eggs generally, it is safe to leave them out for days..in fact in Spain where I vacation, in the 90's F.  , eggs are left out on the shelves, not in a 'fridge'.  

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704 · July 11, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Americans are really scaredy about eggs!

First, I should say that I'm American but not very, har! Anyway, I grew up on a ranch and believe me, when you're pulling in 30+ eggs a day, it's not like you can sell them easily or give them away easily (living in the Ozarks meant I'd not see non-family members for months at a time) when everybody has hens laying. We ate A LOT (certainly daily, several family members and because we grew and prepared all of our food, that meant it went into cooking, too).

Point to that is: when they come out of the hen, they're HOT (body temp). You can store them on the counter (room temp) for over a week -- again, raw. You can store them refrigerated (again, raw) over a month and not blink.

You cooked yours, though. For Easter or just because we were boiling a mess, we'd not bother about them as long as it wasn't full summer for over a week (again, cooked). I wouldn't go too far past that since your eggs probably didn't just come out of a hen's rear but you're good to go for a week! And...when I say full-summer, I mean near 38C/100F without A/C. If you're in air conditioning, you're grand.

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0 · July 11, 2013 at 7:16 PM

I have left my eggs out for over 2-3 days sitting in a bowl and I haven't gotten sick knock on wood So I don't see what harm could come from it. No one has gotten sick in my family from doing that. Its like when your camping you keep them out like in a pack or bag and eat them and no one has been reported dead from left out hard boiled eggs.

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613 · October 06, 2012 at 3:59 AM

I was told once by someone with extensive outdoor and backcountry experience that she and others she knows frequently take them on trips and eat them up to three/four days unrefrigerated, assuming that the temperature is moderate.

I've only eaten them as long as two days out because well, they're just so damn tasty.

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7660 · October 05, 2012 at 10:21 PM

I'd say two days would be fine, as long as the shells aren't compromised with cracks or anything. I frequently take them backpacking and on travels.

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