Most specifically, Granny Annie commented on my egg-cleaning technique, gently tsking me for washing the poop off our eggs instead of simply taking a damp paper towel to them.
Sure enough, Granny Annie's right about not washing the eggs with water (not that I doubted her). Doing a little digging, here's what I found out about so-called "wet cleaning:"
The basic issue is that dirty eggs are covered with bacteria, which have trouble getting through the shell so long as it's dry. As soon as the shell is wet, they pass through the shell more easily. Also, if you cool the egg, the contents shrink a little, causing a partial vacuum inside that tends to suck foreign matter into the egg.So, it seems my prior technique of washing the eggs in tepid water and then popping them into the fridge was likely the worst thing I could have been doing! I'm so very glad I decided to be open about how I do things to invite people smarter than I to correct me openly.
The upshot is that you should always wash eggs in water that's warmer than the egg is, and you should sanitize the eggshells to kill any bacteria on the shell.
What's the best way to clean eggs? From the same source:
You can clean up lightly soiled eggs with various abrasives. Sanding sponges from 3M and others are good, and can be found in any hardware store. Loofas are also good. Some people use sandpaper or steel wool, but these aren't as good as the first two.Thanks, Granny Annie for the tip on how to clean my eggs!
Basically, you rub the egg until it's clean, or you give up, or it breaks in your hand. This happens more often than you'd think, because dirty eggs are often cracked as well.
Dry cleaning doesn't work very well to clean up eggs that have been smeared with the white or yolk of broken eggs in the nest.
Whatever you use to clean the eggs, it's best to wash and sanitize it from time to time. Clean loofas or sanding sponges in soap and water, sanitize them in water with a little bit of bleach, then allow to dry.
Oh, and Steven, I'll be getting to your question about "why crumbles?" in another post. I think I'm about to change another habit...