How fresh are your eggs?
The freshness of an egg
is not only determined by the date when the egg was laid, but also
by the way the egg has been stored. Proper handling and storage is
perhaps the most important factor in determining freshness.
If a freshly laid egg is left at room temperature for a full day, it will
not be as fresh as a week old egg that has been refrigerated between 33° and 40°F. from the time it was laid.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA):
Many eggs reach stores only a few days after the hen lays them.
Egg cartons with the USDA grade shield on them, indicating they
came from a USDA-inspected plant, must display the 'pack date'
(the day that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the
carton). The number is a three-digit code that represents the
consecutive day of the year (the 'Julian Date') starting with
January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365.
Sell By Date - Though not required, most egg cartons also contain a "sell by" date beyond
which they should not be sold. In USDA-inspected plants (indicated by the USDA shield on the package), this date can't exceed 30 days
beyond the pack date which is within USDA regulations.
Always purchase eggs before their "sell by"
date. Information from the
Georgia Egg Commission:
Julian Date: Starting with January
1 as number 1 and ending with December 31 as 365, these
numbers represent the consecutive days of the year. This numbering
system is sometimes used on egg cartons to denote the day the eggs
are packed. Fresh shell eggs can be stored in their cartons in the
refrigerator for 4 to 5 weeks beyond this date with insignificant quality loss.
Expiration Date: The "sell
by" or "best if used by" or "exp (date)" are all expressions used by
the industry in various states, and are used by the retailer to
assure you of freshness. The egg will continue to be fresh for at
least another 2-3 weeks if it has been refrigerated from the time
packed until used at 45 degrees F. or lower. As the egg ages, it
does lose some of its qualities, so if you were baking a cake or
whipping meringue, your cake might not rise as high as expected, and
you might not get the volume of meringue you would expect, so for
baking purposes it is better to use a fresher egg.
How long are eggs good after the sell date?
Refrigerated raw shell eggs will keep without significant quality
loss for about 4 to 5 weeks beyond the pack date or about 3 weeks after you bring them home.
A general rule to
follow is that any egg that looks or smells odd should
NOT be used. Just crack each egg in a small bowl, smell it - your nose will tell you!
How to test if an egg is fresh
Fill a deep bowl with water and
carefully lower the egg into the water. A very fresh egg will
immediately sink to the bottom and lie flat on its side. This is
because the air cell within the egg is very small. The egg should
also fee quite heavy.
As the egg starts to lose it freshness
and more air enters the egg, it will begin to float and stand
upright. The smaller end will lie on the bottom of the bowl, while
the broader end will point towards the surface. The egg will still
be good enough to consume.
However, if the egg fully floats in
the water and does not touch the bottom of the bowl at all, it
should be discarded, as it will most likely be bad.
Test the eggs freshness by breaking
the egg onto a flat plate, not into a bowl. The yolk of a very fresh
egg will have a round and compact appearance and it will sit
positioned quite high up in the middle of the egg. The white that
surrounds it will be thick and stays close to the yolk.
How to store eggs?
The USDA recommends storing eggs in a
refrigerator at about 40 degrees F, mainly to reduce the chances
that any bacteria on the shell will multiply and cause a risk of
Buy refrigerated eggs and store them
in the refrigerator as soon as your get home. However, even under
refrigeration, eggs slowly lose carbon dioxide, which enlarges the
size of the air cell and causes the yolk to flatten and the white to
Storing Fresh Egg - Refrigerated raw
shell eggs will keep without significant quality loss for about 4 to 5 weeks beyond the "sell by"
date or about 3 weeks after you bring them home.
Fresh egg whites - 2 to 4 days
Fresh egg yolks (unbroken and covered with water) - 2 to 4 days
Hard-cooked (hard boiled) eggs - 1 week
Deviled eggs - 2 to 3 days
Leftover egg dishes - 3 to 4 days
Whole eggs (in the shell) cannot be
frozen as the eggs will burst. Store in an airtight freezer container. The recommended
length of freezer storage for frozen eggs is 9 to 12 months.
Whole eggs - You can freeze an entire egg by beating it (as if you were
making scrambled eggs) and then storing it in an airtight freezer container.
Egg yolks - Separate eggs. Stir yolks with a fork to break them. Add two
teaspoons sugar or one teaspoon salt for each cup of egg yolks. Store in an airtight freezer container.
Egg whites - Strain whites through a sieve. Freeze without stirring. Do not
add sugar or salt. Store in an airtight freezer container.
Learn All About Eggs & How To Cook Them
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Eggs Whites vs. Whole Eggs
Making Natural Easter Egg Dyes