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How to Tell if Eggs are Fresh

October 2, 2013

basket of eggs

How to tell if eggs are fresh is a question every cook should know the answer to. There are several reasons you might want to have this information. First of all, if you’re serving eggs for breakfast you will want to serve only the freshest eggs. If you are making a soufflé or some other dish that depends on the eggs for volume and lightness you want to be sure to use the freshest.

But, if you are making deviled eggs, you will NOT want fresh eggs. Why? Simple. Older eggs peel more easily and smoothly than fresh eggs. Have you ever tried to peel a boiled egg and the shell just wouldn’t come loose? That’s because the egg was too fresh. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to eat fresh eggs any way you can get them. So don’t let that stop you from enjoying your egg.  But if you want smoothly peeled eggs for deviled eggs and such, you will want to be sure they are a little older.

fresh eggs

Now, how to tell if eggs are fresh or not? Easy. Place them in a bowl of water and see what happens. If an egg is fresh it will lie on its side, like the egg on the left in the photo above. See the Eggland’s logo? It is stamped on the top of the big end on their eggs. Its lying on its side.  This is a very fresh egg. Perfect for everything except boiling.

See the other egg, on the right in previous photo (the one in the water)?  The logo is on the top with the small tip pointing down. This egg is not quite as fresh as the other. So what to do? Is it still edible? Yes, it’s perfect for using in baking or boiling for deviled eggs r in any recipe you need eggs… Yes, you can fry them or scramble them or use them in cakes and pies. They are fine.  There is nothing wrong with the egg at all.    For several weeks they will start to lift a little. They are still fine for breakfast, boiling and baking.

You may wonder about the sell by date.  The sell by or use by date is not necessarily something you have to adhere to, especially if you follow the info  in this post. Eggs are good past the date on the carton. In fact, I normally buy them several weeks before Easter so they will boil perfectly for Easter Eggs. If you want to boil eggs use the oldest eggs you have. Eggs will keep weeks beyond the sell by date, if you follow these tips.

Okay, Now I guess you are wondering how to tell if an egg is too old to eat. That’s even easier. If an egg floats in the water, it is rotten. The egg in the photo below is rotten……it’s floating.

rotten egg

We eat a whole lot of eggs at my house and I’ve only found one rotten egg, ever…(this egg was deliberately left to rot for photo purposes…;)) …It’s so easy to test them,  if you’re in doubt. ~ Put them in water to decide how best to cook them.

1. If they are on their side they are freshest. Cook them for everything except boiling.

2. If they are standing on one end they are perfect for boiling or baking or anything else you need an egg for:  scrambled eggs, fried eggs, french toast, cakes, pies and casseroles…these are fine.

Forget about the dates on cartons…..because:  See#3

3. If they float, or look like they are about to float…throw them out!

And always keep your eggs refrigerated. Happy Cooking!


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  • Melissa

    Hi Renee! Here via the facebook group for the UBC. 🙂 Your tips on eggs are very familiar, thanks to training I got from my mother. She also recommends that you always allow eggs to cool before trying to peel them, and crack and then roll them between your palms to help loosen the membranes from the shells. 🙂

    Happy blogging!

    October 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Melissa. My aunt and grandmother taught me. Great to know about cooling…

      October 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm Reply
  • Katrina

    This is a fantastic post. That you for educating and sharing your love of cooking.
    Most people think that the expiration date on eggs means that they aren’t good. Thank you for setting it straight!

    October 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm Reply
    • admin

      Oh, Katrina, thank you so much! I’m glad it’s helpful!

      October 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm Reply
  • Penny

    Now *this* is useful. I know eggs can keep for a long time, but I haven’t known how to test them. We have chickens and usually have more eggs than we can eat.

    October 2, 2013 at 11:29 pm Reply
    • admin

      My aunt taught me. My grandmother, her mother, raised chickens too and she kept hers in the basement (Kansas City) for months after they were laid…I won’t go that far, tho I’m sure they would be fine. But I do keep them quite a while after the date on them…glad it’s useful! Thanks for commenting, Penny

      October 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm Reply
  • Kirsten Reeder

    Thanks Renee! For the longest time I never even realized eggs had a sell by date (I know, crazy, right?) These are some great tips. So easy to remember. Thanks!

    October 3, 2013 at 2:03 am Reply
    • admin

      You’re welcome Kristen. Yes..and I just found that flour has a use by date!!! Flour!!! I think they just do that so you will have to buy more…I’m not ‘buying it’

      October 3, 2013 at 8:27 am Reply
  • Barbara Boser

    Wow I had no idea about the egg trick. Thanks for this post, I will definitely be testing my eggs!

    October 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm Reply
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