Cracking the Code: Guide to Testing and Storage for Egg Freshness and Safety
IMAGE SOURCE: food.unl.edu
Do you have a carton of eggs past the expiration date? Don’t toss them out just yet, they may still be safe to eat!
Expired eggs sound scary. Your stomach might be churning at the mere thought of the smell! But here’s what you should know – most eggs past the expiration date will look and taste just as good as farm fresh eggs right from the farmer’s market.
Thankfully, there are several ways to check if your older eggs will still make the perfect sunny side up! Crack the egg (and the code) to egg freshness testing, proper storage, and when to let go of rotten eggs.
Reading the Date on the Carton
One of the quickest ways to tell egg freshness is with the expiration date printed on the carton. However, more often than not, eggs past the “sell by” or expiration date will still be good to eat.
In the US, eggs are required to have a packing date printed on the carton. This indicates the date the eggs were washed, graded, and packed. An egg 21 to 30 days past the packing date is most likely fresh, especially if it’s been refrigerated.
Image source: Farmersalmanac
Here are some pointers to reading the expiration date on the packaging:
- Plant number: Indicated by P followed by four numbers
- Packing date: Indicated as Julian date
- Sell-by or Expiration date: Not required in some states
How do I Test for Egg Freshness?
We’ll talk about some of the most popular methods for checking whether eggs are good or bad.
Let’s begin by focusing on one of the most popular methods – the Float Test.
What is the Float Test?
The egg freshness water test is basically a float test. It is one of the oldest methods of checking egg freshness. It’s also one of the most accurate methods for finding a fertilized egg that might develop into a chick.
While it’s definitely an old-fashioned trick, it’s been scientifically proven to be accurate!
Grab an egg from your kitchen, and let’s get started!
Egg Floats Test Steps
Image source: happychickencoop
Get a glass or a bowl of cold water. Make sure that the bowl of water is deep enough for the egg to be submerged.
Gently drop the egg onto the water.
Did it sink to the bottom and lay on its side? Congratulations – the egg is still fresh!
Otherwise, if it stands upright or floats at an angle, that means that the egg should be consumed soon if it’s not a hard-boiled egg. The egg is about a week to two weeks old.
An egg that floats on the surface of the water is old and has likely gone bad.
Why do Bad Eggs Float?
This doesn’t mean that there is a large air pocket in old eggs, though! Comparing an old and new egg will still have the same buoyancy and volume. The gases produced by an old egg will pass through the porous shell, making the tiny pores larger. This causes the egg to be less dense than water!
Is the Egg Float Test 100% Positive?
While this test will accurately tell you if an egg is old or new, it won’t really tell you if an egg is good or bad to consume. This means that an egg that floats can still be good to eat, and an egg that sinks can be bad.
What other egg freshness tests can I try?
Thankfully, there are still a whole lot of home tests you can try to make sure your eggs are safe for eating. Here are some of the tried-and-tested methods:
Image source: Mark Edwards
There’s nothing worse than whipping up a meal and realizing that the egg you cracked isn’t safe to eat! So before you add an egg to your mixing bowl, make sure to crack the egg onto a plate, make sure it’s a flat plate
An egg that’s gone bad is likely harder to crack because the shell has become tough. Closely inspect the consistency of the egg white. A fresh egg should have a slightly opaque egg white that’s thick and sticky. An egg that’s spread out, clear, water, and runny is not fresh at all. The yolk will be somewhat flattened too, and not the bouncy round shape it should be.
Image source: Insteading
Candling is one of the oldest and most reliable tricks in the book. It can be done by shining a light source (a candle or a flashlight) through an egg while you’re in a dark room.
An egg that’s filled up by its contents is still fresh. If there’s a large air pocket in the egg and the contents move about freely, the egg has gotten bad.
One of our favorite kitchen gadgets is the Magicgfly LED Egg Candler Tester. There’s nothing much to it – conveniently and securely place an egg on the top, plug it in and see if your eggs are still fresh. It’s also useful for people who have an egg coop and need some help with incubation. The device is user-friendly and safe for kids and students learning about fertilized eggs in science class.
Image source: Wikihow
Hold up an egg to your ear and shake it. You guessed it, shaking a bad egg will mean a lot of sloshing around because of the air pocket. Over time, the contents of bad eggs will start to degrade and mix together.
This test isn’t the most accurate, so it’s best left as a last resort to checking your egg freshness.
Image source: Wikihow
This test isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s no mistaking the foul smell of a rotten egg! You don’t even need to crack it open – you’ll likely smell the putrid contents as soon as the egg is in your hand.
Which is the best method to test egg freshness?
Due to its convenience and reliability, we’d still go for the egg float test. It’s one of the most commonly used methods, and there’s a slim chance that it will fail. We’re also fans of the candling test since it’s one of the most accurate methods used even in chicken egg fertilization.
However, according to the USDA, the more important step is to buy good quality eggs in the first place! Ideally, it’s best to buy eggs that are sold in a refrigerator and indicate that they’ve been stored that way. Make sure to take a peek inside the egg carton to check if the eggs are clean and there are no cracks. You should also check the “Sell by” dates, these shouldn’t be more than 30 days after the package date.
How long do eggs last?
The key to keeping eggs fresh for a long time is in proper storage. Eggs that are refrigerated and stored at the correct temperature can last up to 8 weeks after they’ve been laid by the hens.
However, the USDA recommends that eggs kept in a refrigerator for at least 3 to 5 weeks are best in quality. Eggs stored in a freezer for up to a year may still be consumed.
Keep in mind that refrigerating and even freezing eggs will mean a decline in quality.
How to store eggs properly?
Different environments and humidity will require different storage practices. If you live in a state with higher temperatures and humidity, all the more you should be careful about storage.
As soon as you buy a carton of eggs, make sure that you store them in a cooler or refrigerator right away. Eggs should be kept at ideally 40 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce any chances of bacteria contaminating the contents. They are best kept in their carton in the refrigerator to keep out any odors and flavors from spoiling the egg.
Make sure that the eggs are standing upright with the larger end facing up. This position will ensure that the air pockets stay on top, which reduces the chance that bacteria will contaminate the egg yolk.
Here’s a quick guide to egg refrigeration storage:
- Fresh Egg: can be refrigerated up to 5 weeks after the sell-by date or three weeks after you buy them from the farmer’s market or the grocery store.
- Cracked egg: refrigerated fresh egg whites and yolks can be stored safely for two to 4 days
- Hard-boiled eggs: 1 week
- Leftover eggs: three to four days
- Deviled eggs: two to three days
Eggs can be stored in the freezer for up to 9 to 12 months. However, fresh eggs shouldn’t be stored in the freezer since these are likely to burst.
Here’s one of our favorite kitchen gadgets for storing eggs in the refrigerator – a pull-out fridge egg tray. This organizer is made of high-quality PET that’s non-toxic, transparent, and resistant to extreme temperatures. We also love that it can hold up to 15 eggs, thanks to its strong bearing capacity and durable materials. This shelf isn’t likely to crack! It also has a pull-out design ensuring that the shelf slides smoothly for a user-friendly and convenient kitchen experience. Most of all, we love that it can be placed under the fridge partition. It doesn’t eat up space at all, and it’s easy to keep eggs organized and secure.
We also love this eco-friendly wooden egg tray. It’s made of durable and lightweight, handcrafted wood. It’s also coated with a waterproof material to ensure that it maintains a beautiful finish for a long time. It will look chic on any countertop, but it’s also safe for use in a refrigerator. The grooves ensure that each one of our eggs stays upright and secure while in storage. The carrying grooves under the tray is small yet convenient highlight we truly appreciate!
Here’s a quick guide to egg freezer storage:
- Whole eggs: to store whole eggs, crack open the egg in an airtight container and beat it
- Egg yolks: break the yolk in an airtight container and add one teaspoon of salt or two teaspoons of sugar to preserve it.
- Egg whites: strain the egg whites first with a sieve, then store in an airtight container without stirring
How to dispose of bad eggs?
If it will take a while before your trash is collected, you can dispose of bad eggs by cracking them over the sink while running lots of water. Throw the shells in the trash or the garbage disposal.
You can also consider leaving it outside for animals to eat or using the shells and contents as fertilizer.
Egg Cooking Safety Tips
Egg safety is no joke. While it’s true that most eggs are likely safe, getting sick from a rotten egg is a miserable and dangerous experience. There are many pathogenic bacteria and Salmonella that can grow in eggs when they’re not washed, stored, or cooked properly. The bacteria could be inside the shell, so undercooking eggs can still be dangerous.
- If frying eggs, make sure that they’re well done.
- Scrambled eggs should be cooked in at least 165 degrees F.
- Hard-boiled eggs should be cooked until firm.
If there are members of your household with low immunity, pregnant, young, or elderly, we recommend buying pasteurized eggs. These eggs are quickly heated to a temperature that kills bacteria but keeps the egg uncooked. Pasteurized eggs are great for recipes that call for raw eggs.
To Toss or Not To Toss?
There are lots of tests to try to make sure that the eggs in your kitchen are safe and fresh. The tests in this article are all tried and tested methods, but it will still be up to you to decide if the eggs you want to cook are still good.
To stay on the safe side, it will be best to practice caution from the moment you buy an egg up to consumption. Eggs sold in refrigerators, stored in refrigerators, and cooked thoroughly are the best for the safety of your family. If an egg shows some signs of age, it will be best to stay on the safe side and dispose of it.