Whether you eat them sunny side up, poached, or in a quiche, eggs are the ultimate breakfast menu item. Of course, eggs are also a staple for baking sweet and savory recipes including bread, cookies, cake, pasta, and more. But when you don’t go through dozens before the expiration date expires, how do you know if the eggs are bad? While the two dates on the carton may be confusing, you may be able to prevent food waste and use those two eggs after all. Before you toss them in the trash, find out how long the eggs actually last and use the go-to method of the test kitchen to check the freshness of the eggs.
Egg freshness test
There are several ways to test eggs to see if they’re still good for your morning scramble recipe or cookie recipe. The easiest way to tell if your eggs are bad is to test the sink or float (pictured above), but we’ll review all the methods so you can be sure the eggs are fresh.
Egg Flotation Test
Scientifically speaking, the older the eggs, the more porous the shells become, creating an air sac that separates the membrane (not good). To easily test the freshness of the eggs, start with a bowl of cold water and gently place the eggs in it. If the egg immediately sinks and rests on its side, it is fresh. Eggs that sink with the tip tilted or facing upwards are still fine, but you’ll want to use them sooner. Toss any eggs that float.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “smells like a rotten egg.” This feeling is true here in that if you smell an unpleasant moldy smell when cracking, then the eggs have spoiled.
Check the egg white
Remember the air sacs mentioned in the buoyancy test? Air getting into that porous shell can change the appearance of the egg white. Fresh egg whites should appear thick and slightly opaque. Rotten eggs contain watery and clear whites. The yolk on rotten eggs will also appear flat, not dome-shaped.
Related: Are broken eggs safe to use or freeze?
How long do eggs last?
While the date on the carton is a good place to start when it comes to storing fresh eggs, you can gauge how long the eggs will last by how they are stored (inside or outside the shell). Here is a general timeline to follow for how long the eggs will live.
The best way to store eggs
According to the American Egg Board (AEB), it’s important to store eggs in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Some egg storage containers exist, but the AEB recommends keeping them in the original carton, away from pungent foods, and not on the refrigerator door.
Eggs in the “eat soon” stage? Freeze them to avoid having to throw them away. Place lightly beaten whole eggs (or separate egg whites and yolks) in an airtight container for up to 1 year. Don’t forget to label the containers with a date. Allow the eggs to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. Since egg yolks thicken when frozen, the AEB says you should whisk in either 1/2 teaspoon salt or 1½ teaspoons sugar or corn syrup for each 1/2 cup yolk (4 large). Oh, and freezing whole eggs in their shell or hard-boiled eggs is not recommended.
Related: Egg substitutes that bypass the refrigerated egg product
If you’re looking for ways to use semi-rotten eggs, our test kitchen loves turning them into hard-boiled eggs, as older eggs are a bit easier to peel. Complete your menu with an egg casserole for brunch or a breakfast recipe for dinner.