Fresh or Rotten? Is That Egg Edible?
A client recently asked,
“I have a carton of eggs without a “use-by” date label. The eggs have been in my refrigerator for about two or three weeks, but I am not positive as to how long I have had them. Is there any way to tell if they are fresh?”
There are ways to determine the freshness of your eggs. All you have to do is follow one of three testing methods listed in this post.
Method 1: Place the egg in water and observe
The age and freshness of an egg can be determined by placing an egg in a container of water.
- Fill a glass container with enough water so that you can tell if the egg is submerged, touching the bottom or floating. A bowl, large glass, or measuring cup can be used.
- Place the egg in the water and observe.
- When placed in water, an older egg will float. It floats because as the egg becomes less fresh, it loses moisture through its shell. As a result, the contents of the egg shrink and the air cell inside expands, causing it to float.
- A fresh egg will sink to the bottom of the bowl and may lie on one side.
- A slightly older egg that is still safe to eat, will lie on the bottom of the container, but will bob slightly in the water. It may rest on its pointy end (smallest tip) and point the larger end toward the top of the container. This egg may be one to three weeks old.
- An egg that is very old and not fresh will float in the water at the surface of the container. This egg should not be consumed.
Method 2: Crack the egg and look
If you are planning to crack the egg before cooking/eating, you can determine its freshness by observing the yolk and albumen (the egg white).
- Crack the egg onto a flat dish and observe.
- A fresh egg will have a yolk that sits high, is bright-yellow and well-rounded. The white will be firm and will gather/rise up noticeably around the yolk.
- An older egg that is still safe to eat will have a yolk that sits a bit lower and the white will be more transparent.
- An egg that is very old and not safe to eat will have a yolk that is slightly pale, very flat and the white will show little or no rise around the yolk. The white will also be very runny (almost like water).
- A very spoiled egg will have a terrible odor and should not be consumed.
Method 3: Gently shake the egg and listen
Shaking an egg can hint to its freshness.
- Take an egg from the refrigerator and hold it up to your ear.
- Shake it gently and listen.
- A fresh egg will not make a sound.
- An egg that is less fresh will make a distinct sloshing/rattling sound. It is best not to consume this type of egg.
So there you have it, three different methods to determine how old and how fresh an egg is. To play it safe, always consume eggs before their “use-by” date.
Time to cook
After determining that your eggs are fresh, it is time to cook. In the article, “How to Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs” I provide you with a simple 10-step recipe that guarantees a perfect hard-boiled egg each time. Check it out!
How do YOU tell if an egg is fresh?
I want to hear from you.
- Do you know any other methods that help determine the age and freshness of an egg? If so, please share your tips in the comments below. Thanks!
When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.