How To Tell If Your Eggs Are Fresh?

September 23, 2015

Almost everything on grocery store shelves these days comes with at least one date printed on the package.

Some even have more than one—there’s the “sell by” date, “best by” date, and “expiration” date to deal with, after all. And none of those dates really guarantee a food’s freshness—most experts agree these dates don’t mean that much .

With eggs, things can get particularly confusing. From the outside, all eggs look the same—they’re not going to wilt or collect mold like other produce. So how can you really tell if eggs are good enough to eat?

The obvious way to tell if an egg has gone ’round the bend is just to crack it open. If it smells like, well, rotten eggs, toss it.

If you don’t want to subject your sniffer to that horrendous scent, try the water test. All you’ll need is a bowl or cup of cold water and the eggs you want to test.

Every egg contains a small air pocket. Eggshells are porous, and as an egg ages, more and more air enters the egg through the shell, enlarging the air pocket. The older the egg, the larger the air pocket—and the more likely it is to float.

To test an egg’s freshness, gently place an egg in a bowl or glass of cold water. A relatively fresh egg will sink to the bottom. An older egg will float to the top.

One caveat: Not all buoyant eggs have gone rancid. The USDA maintains that eggs that float are still safe to eat—just check for any funky smells or discoloration of the yolk before using it.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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