Most of us are in the habit of storing away butter and eggs in the refrigerator the minute we get home from the supermarket. But travel to Europe, and you’ll see eggs sitting out far from the refrigerator case. In fact, some people leave butter sitting out for hours on end. Do we actually need to refrigerate these foods?
Well, it’s a little complicated. First of all, in America, all eggs should be refrigerated, full stop. In the States, eggs are washed with soap and water and sprayed with oil before being sent to the market. Being washed removes the egg’s natural defense against bacteria, which is replaced by the oil. Because of this process, all American eggs need to be refrigerated, and will remain fresh for up to five weeks. In Europe, the eggs aren’t washed before they’re sent to the market, so there’s no need to refrigerate them right away.
As for butter, because it has such a high fat content and is usually made with salt and pasteurized milk, it’s actually quite unattractive to bacteria. While it’s certainly not unwise to refrigerate it, it can survive in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. But once the temperature rises above 70 degrees, the butter is in the “danger zone,” and should be stored in the fridge.
So in summary: Always store eggs in the fridge, and if you’d rather be safe than sorry, you should probably keep your butter in the fridge as well.