Eggs are a versatile food item that is used in a wide range of cuisines.
Before you cook your eggs, check to see if they have gone bad.
Food poisoning can occur from eating rotten eggs.
You can use the float test or smell and examine a broken egg to determine the freshness of your eggs.
If the egg is fresh, you can use it in any way you like.
If you discover that the egg is rotten, discard it.
An egg only goes bad when it deteriorates because of bacteria or mold.
When in doubt, use these four methods to determine whether your eggs are fresh.
1. Read the Expiration Date
Checking the date on the container is one of the simplest methods to know if your eggs are still edible (1).
You can store eggs in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. You should also keep all raw eggs at a temperature of 40 °F (4 °C) or lower (2).
The sell-by date will not tell you if your eggs are rotten, but it will tell you how old they are.
If your eggs are still within the expiration or “sell by” date on the packet, or within 21–30 days of the “pack date,” you can be quite certain that they are still fresh.
Even if the quality of an egg deteriorates beyond a particular date, it may still be edible if refrigerated, which keeps its quality and prevents bacterial growth.
If your eggs are past the expiration date written on the box, you may need to use another method to determine if the egg is edible.
2. Perform a smell Test
Fresh, uncooked eggs should have a balanced smell and should not smell sulfuric or sour.
However, if you notice the egg smells awful before or after you crack it, it is probably rotten.
If your eggs have passed their “sell by” or expiration date, a simple odor will tell you if they are still edible.
Eggs that have gone bad will have a distinct smell, whether they are raw or cooked.
If you can’t tell when the egg is still in its shell, crack it open and take a sniff.
When something smells odd, throw it away and wash the bowl or plate with soap before using it again.
If everything smells normal, the egg is safe to use (3).
However, you still cannot determine the freshness of all your eggs by testing a single egg. Therefore, test each egg individually.
3. Perform a Visual Inspection
In a visual test, crack an egg open, and if a watery white comes out, the egg is bad.
This shows that the egg is old, and the quality has deteriorated. However, this does not always imply that it has gone bad, and it may still be safe to use.
Fresh eggs present milky or clear whites and a vibrant yellow or orange yolk. If the egg is bad, the whites will be watery, and the yolk will flatten out.
Similarly, cracks in the shell may suggest bacteria, while a powdery appearance on the shell may show mold (4, 5).
If you observe any discoloration, such as red spots, discard the egg and cleanse the bowl with hot, soapy water before testing a new egg. Another technique is to shake the egg next to your ear. If you hear the inside of the egg moving, it’s rotten.
If you can’t hear or feel the contents of the egg moving, it’s fresh and safe to eat. This procedure is less precise than a visual or olfactory check.
4. Conduct a Float Test
One of the most common methods for determining whether an egg is okay or rotten is the float test. This is also a popular approach for calculating the age of a fertilized egg maturing into a chick (6).
It also works effectively for determining whether an unfertilized table egg is fresh. Lower the egg into the water slowly so that it does not crack if it strikes the bottom of the container.
If you’re testing more than one egg, test each one separately to identify which ones are fine and which are bad. The egg is fresh if it sinks.
It is old if it tilts upward or perhaps floats. This is because when an egg ages, the small air pocket inside it expands as air exhales and replaces water.
If the air pocket expands sufficiently, the egg may float. While this approach may determine whether an egg is fresh or old, it cannot determine whether an egg is good or awful.
An egg can sink and yet be nasty, whereas an egg that floats may be edible.
Some people waste perfectly good eggs unnecessarily because of a lack of awareness about how to determine whether an egg has gone bad.
The most conclusive method of assessing freshness among the three methods given here is cracking an egg open, smelling it, and checking for discoloration.
However, keep in mind that eggs containing germs that cause food-borne illness, such as Salmonella, may appear and smell normal.
So, even if an egg passes these tests, it’s still crucial to cook it to a safe temperature before eating it.