How to Tell if Eggs Are Fresh
You can’t tell just by looking at an egg whether it is fresh or not. The good news is that there is a very simple way to test the freshness of an egg and there’s no need to crack it.
Whether you buy eggs from the store or from a local farmer, all you need is a bowl of water to do a quick freshness check.
A Quick Test to Check an Egg’s Freshness
Fill a deep bowl, pan, or tall glass with enough cold tap water to cover an egg. Place the egg in the water.
• If the egg lies on its side on the bottom, the air cell inside is small and it’s very fresh.
• If the egg stands up on end and bobs on the bottom, the air cell is larger and it isn’t quite as fresh. It is probably between one and three weeks old, which is perfectly acceptable to eat.
• If the egg floats on the surface, it is bad and should be discarded.
Why the Float Test Works So Well
The reason this method works is that the eggshells are porous, which means they allow some air to get through. Fresh eggs have less air in them, so they sink to the bottom. But older eggs have had more time for the air to penetrate the shells, so they’re more buoyant and will float.
Signs of a Bad Cracked Egg
We don’t always think about checking the freshness of our eggs before cracking them. That’s why it’s also good to know how to tell if an egg is bad after it’s out of the shell. A very fresh egg out of the shell will have an overall thick white which doesn’t spread much. The yolk will stand up and have a nice, rounded dome.
- If the egg white is quite thin and spreads, it is probably past its peak.
- A flattened yolk or one that breaks very easily is an indication that the egg is old.
- The white of a very fresh egg will be cloudy. A clear egg white indicates an older egg, but not necessarily a bad egg.
- When in doubt, give it the sniff test. The smell of a rotten egg is unmistakable and should be apparent immediately upon cracking. If it smells bad, do not eat it.
Choosing and Storing Eggs
Now that you know how to test your eggs, it’s time to get a few buying and storage tips.
• Store them wisely
To ensure your eggs stay as fresh as possible, make sure you’re storing them in the coldest part of your fridge—that’s usually going to be the bottom shelves, because of cold air sinks, and towards the back of the fridge. Many people like to store their eggs on the inside of the fridge’s door—sometimes there’s even a little egg compartment in there—but that’s actually the warmest part of the fridge since it gets the most exposure to the kitchen’s heat. It’s best to point the small end down, so get in the habit of flipping your eggs whenever you bring a new carton home.
• Eggs which are a week or so old are easier to peel than very fresh eggs when cooked in the shell. This makes them perfect candidates for hard-boiled eggs. To keep hard-boiled eggs fresh, keep them in the shell until you’re ready to eat them.
• Still, always discard any eggs that have an odd appearance or odor, or that have been stored improperly—even if they passed the sink test. It’s not worth the risk of getting sick
Store them wisely
To ensure your eggs stay as fresh as possible, make sure you’re storing them in the coldest part of your fridge—that’s usually going to be the bottom shelves, because of cold air sinks, and towards the back of the fridge. Many people like to store their eggs on the inside of the fridge’s door—sometimes there’s even a little egg compartment in there—but that’s actually the warmest part of the fridge since it gets the most exposure to the kitchen’s heat.
Don’t wash your eggs until you’re ready to use them. They have a covering, known as bloom, that protects them from bacteria. Leave eggs intact until you’re ready to cook them, and your home-grown eggs should outlast grocery store varieties.
Finding blood in an egg may seem gross and cause for tossing out the egg (and all of the ingredients that you’ve just cracked it into), but it’s actually completely safe to eat. Occasionally a blood vessel ruptures when an egg is being formed, and this causes a small blood spot (also referred to as a meat spot) to appear on the yolk. You can remove it if you’d like, but the egg is perfectly safe to eat with or without the blood spot.
If you buy your eggs from the grocery store, you probably won’t come across an egg with a blood spot very often, if ever. Egg producers use electronic spotters to detect eggs with spots, and they’re removed before they go to market.
If you have your own chickens, or you buy your eggs direct from a farmer, you may see blood spots a bit more frequently, simply because the spotted eggs aren’t being culled.
Now you know how to tell if eggs are bad, here’s how to get a perfect poach on your super-fresh eggs.
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Margarita & Stace