How to Check Eggs for Freshness: Five Simple Ways

Almost everyone has faced this conundrum: you reach into the fridge for an egg, but you can’t remember how long it’s been there. On the eve of Easter, the issue of egg freshness becomes especially relevant.

Check the expiration date

One of the easiest ways to find out if your eggs are good is to check the date on the package. But if you decide to throw away the eggs as soon as this date comes, you may make a mistake.

Eggs may be labeled with an expiration date. It marks the date after which the eggs are considered stale.

If your eggs are still within the expiration date or the sell-by date on the package, or within 21-30 days after the “package date”, you can be sure that they are still fresh.

And even though the quality of an egg may start to decline after a certain date, it can still be eaten for several weeks, especially if it has been stored in the refrigerator, which preserves the quality and prevents bacterial growth.

However, if your eggs expired before the date on the package, you may need another method to determine if it is a good or bad egg.

Conduct a smell test

Smelling is the oldest, easiest, and most reliable method of determining whether an egg has gone bad. If you find that your eggs are past their expiration date, you can tell if they are good just by smelling them.

Eggs that have gone bad will give off an unmistakable odor, whether they are raw or cooked. If you can’t tell while the egg is still in the shell, crack the egg on a clean plate or bowl and smell it.

If you smell something, throw the egg away and wash the bowl or plate with hot water and soap before using it again.

Conduct a visual inspection

In addition to your nose, your eyes are a valuable tool for determining whether an egg is good or bad. While the egg is still in the shell, make sure the shell is not cracked, slimy, or powdery.

Mucus or cracks can indicate the presence of bacteria, and a powdery shell may indicate mold. If the shell appears dry and intact, break the egg into a clean white bowl or plate before using it. Look for any pink, blue, green, or black spots in the yolk or white, as this may indicate bacterial growth.

If you notice any signs of discoloration, discard the egg and wash the bowl with hot water and soap before checking for a new egg.

You can also check to see if the white or yolk of the egg is runny. This is an indication that the egg has aged and its quality has deteriorated. But this does not necessarily mean that it is spoiled, and it is perfectly fine to use.

Conduct a float test

The float test is one of the most popular methods for checking egg quality. It is also a common method of determining the age of the fertilized egg from which the chick develops. It also works to judge whether an unfertilized table egg is fresh or not.

To perform the buoyancy test, gently place the egg in a bowl or bucket of water. If the egg sinks, it is fresh. If it tilts up or even floats, it is old. This is because as the egg ages, the small air pocket inside it gets bigger as the water is released and replaced by air. If the air pocket becomes large enough, the egg may float. While this method can tell you if an egg is fresh or old, it does not tell you if it is good or bad.

Light the eggs

Glowing is a method used to either assess the quality of a table egg or assess the development of a chick in a fertilized egg. It is done on an industrial scale using special equipment to ensure that table eggs are properly sorted before they are packaged.

But it can also be done at home if you want to learn how. You will need a dark room and a small bright light source. In the past, candles were used, hence the name “glow”. However, it is probably more effective to use a small flashlight or reading lamp instead.

Hold the light source up to the large end of the egg. Then tilt the egg and turn it quickly from left to right. If done correctly, the contents of the egg should light up.

This allows you to see whether the egg’s air chamber is small or large. In a very fresh egg, the air chamber should be thinner than 3.175 mm. as the egg ages, gases replace the water lost through evaporation and the air pocket becomes larger.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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