You probably already know this but eggs have a natural coating called "bloom" which basically seals them, keeps the various bacteria out and keeps them fresh. That's why people will see eggs sitting out at a market in Mexico (something that bothers the gringos). It's also the reason a hen can lay a clutch of a dozen or so yet have them all hatch about the same time. Until she starts sitting on them, keeping them at a constant temperature, they are in a stasis.Thanks, Bad Wolf, for the great info.
Once washed, the coating is gone and the eggs can't be left out as the shell is porous. Eggs bought in the store have to be washed (and are usually in a corn based detergent, then covered in a corn based coating) according to the rules so would go bad quickly if left out. They also turn quicker in the fridge than unwashed.
Here's a great article Mother Earth News did on various techniques of storing eggs and the results over a year.
We use a fingernail brush like deal to clean off dirty eggs before storing. The eggs I used to buy at the farmers market would often have a little dirt and even a downy feather or two attached but I loved that as it showed the origins. We are so freaked about sanitation in North America often causing more problems with our obsessions.
For instance, just as the cold water draws in the germs to the eggs, that's what is currently believed to be the issue with the tomatoes. Warm toms from the fields are being dunked in ice water to firm them up so they'll be tougher for the rest of the processing before hitting store or restaurant. That temperature shock is sucking the germs in through the stem end which has been compromised in the picking.
I'm no longer of the mindset "the eggs out of the bird, must get it washed and into the fridge ASAP!"
How do others handle their own backyard-fresh eggs? Leave them out? Refrigerate same day? Straight into the frying pan? I'd like to get a sense of how the group's handling their golden yolks.