Food & Recipes

How to Tell If Eggs Are Fresh Before You Crack Into Them

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Can’t remember how long ago you bought that carton of eggs sitting in your fridge? We’ve all been there. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to tell whether your eggs are still fresh just by looking at them.

The first thing you should check is the carton. We aren’t talking about the sell-by date, though. Instead, there’s a three digit number called the “pack date” (or Julian date) that can let you know exactly when those eggs were packaged. The numbers range from 001 to 365 and, as you can probably guess, they represent each day of the year. For example, eggs packed on January 1 will have 001 and ones from December 31 will have 365. You can safely use eggs for about a month after the corresponding date on your carton.

If you can’t find those numbers or store your eggs out of the carton, you can try another popular method of dunking eggs into water. Eggs that are past their prime will float to the top and should be tossed out. Super fresh ones will sink to the bottom and lie on their side. Slightly less fresh ones might stand straight up while still at the bottom and are still safe to eat, but need to be cooked soon before they go to waste.

Take a look at the video for more info on the pack date and float test:

You can also check for clear signs eggs have gone bad like broken shells and a slimy texture from a leakage. An overpowering sulphuric smell is another obvious signal you shouldn’t scramble them up. 

If you’re still unsure about an egg after cracking into it, take a closer look at the whites. According to the USDA, you shouldn’t worry about them looking a little cloudy. It’s actually a sign that the egg is very fresh — like straight from the chicken (or farmer’s market). They become clearer as they age, which is what we’re used to seeing from the grocery store. What we need to look out for instead are whites with a pink or pearly hue, which can indicate it’s been spoiled by bacteria.

Once your eggs pass all these tests, you can go ahead and whip up a delicious dish without any fear! We recommend a plate of fluffy scrambled eggs or creamy egg salad as a couple of especially tasty options.

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