So, you’ve got a carton of eggs in the fridge that has gone well past its sell-by date. Now what? All is not lost, as the printed date on the packaging doesn’t actually correspond to an expiration date. In fact, most store-bought eggs kept in the refrigerator remain fresh for weeks beyond the stamped date. Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to an egg’s freshness, the nose doesn’t always know. And, you can’t rely solely on your eyes and the “best by” date to determine if an egg is still good enough to eat.
Because eating a bad egg can cause food poisoning, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before you toss that entire expired carton in the garbage, here are four quick and easy ways to tell if an egg has gone bad. The best part? These basic tips don’t require you to boil a single egg. With Easter on its way, you’ll want to hurry up and test those raw shells, or the last one in the basket just might be a rotten egg.
1. Sink or Swim?
The best kept secret in determining an egg’s freshness is to see if it sinks in water. Simply fill a glass or bowl with cold water and submerge the eggs. If the eggs sink to the bottom and lay flat on their side, they’re still fresh. However, if they sink, but stand on one end at the bottom of the glass or bowl, they’re not as fresh but still edible. Of course, if any eggs float to the top, they shouldn't be eaten. The science behind this is based on the fact that eggshells are semipermeable, which means air can get through. So the older the egg, the more air can penetrate its shell, causing it to float.
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2. Shake It.
Another method not as reliable as the float trick is to hold an egg up to your ear and shake it. If you hear liquid swishing around inside, it’s gone bad. On the other hand, no sound equals good news. The sloshing sound usually points to an old, watery yolk.
3. Sniff it Out.
If the egg doesn’t pass the smell test, it’s best to toss it. When cracked, eggs should have a neutral odor—not a distinct smell such as sulphuric, gassy, or sour notes.
4. Egg Whites—Not All They’re Cracked Up to Be?
Just before you make that cheesy scramble, you need to observe the yolk and egg white once cracked onto a flat surface. Fresh eggs will have a bright yellow or orange yolk, where the egg white is slightly stiff and sits up around the yolk. The white of a not-so-fresh egg will be more flat and spread out.
If your eggs are expiring soon, a delicious way to make use of them is to hard-boil them and stuff them in a jar with a brine to make pickled eggs. For the ultimate spring party starter, try this tasty Triple Pickle Deviled Eggs recipe.