How To Tell If An Egg Is Still Good Enough To Eat

Your Friday may not be so good if you eat a bad egg. If you’ve dug up some old eggs in the refrigerator and no longer have the expiration date handy, you’ll face the decision of whether to throw out your eggs or try your luck by cooking them.

But before you do that, there’s a simple trick you can try to test your egg, courtesy of an About.com Frugal Living post.

You place the egg in a bowl of cold water, then see whether it sinks to the bottom, stands on its point or floats.

The more floaty your egg is, the more likely it is you need to toss it. Eggs have porous shells that take in air over time, so a buoyant egg is typically a bad one. If an egg stands on its tip, it’s probably still OK to eat in short order.

A final test comes when you crack the egg and start to cook it. If it stinks, discard it.

How to Tell If Eggs are Still Good [About.com Frugal Living]

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  1. TBGBoodler says:

    Wow. I’ve kept eggs in the refrigerator for several weeks and I’ve never found one that went bad. I’ve certainly never come across one that stinks.

    • moe2 says:

      Eggs can be eaten a good month+ past the sell-by date… you’d have to keep them quite awhile before they go bad.

      • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

        Yeah — I have eggs that lasted a month or so that are still good, but we do tend to use up eggs quickly.

        Off topic, when I was a kid our fridge lost power for a week while we’re out of town, and guess what’s in it? Poultry and eggs! Our fridge was super-nasty with stinky liquid and starting to breed maggots.

        One of the eggs cracked when we were cleaning up the fridge, and what came out was black stuff. Ugh. It stank so much, good thing we have screens on our windows, because there was a constant hum from swarms of flies trying to get in.

    • Mambru says:

      yeah eggs are good to go for a while the best test is the stink test it never fails. Hard boiled egss last a lot as well specially in the fridege

      • Stannous Flouride says:

        Actually, hard boiled eggs go bad faster than uncooked ones. It probably has to do with the cooking process opening the pores in the shell.

        That being said, I’ve eaten eggs that have been weeks past the Best Used By date. If there’s any doubt I break them into a bowl to smell them before poaching, basting, or frying them.

    • alana0j says:

      See I’m the paranoid type that will toss them if it’s more than a week past the date. I’m glad I read this article so I can avoid throwing out good food.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Yeah…eggs are the classic “smell test” food. If the egg isn’t sulfuric in smell, it’s okay to eat (and even then, it’s usually still SAFE, just not fun.) An “expired” egg that smells good is fine.

  2. skitzogreg says:

    Slightly off topic: The entire time whilst reading this article, the only thing I could think of was, “eggsaronius” from ‘Ernest Goes to Camp’.

  3. mauispiderweb says:

    I was eggspecting a little more than this.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      I see you’re just going for the cheap yolks today

      • mauispiderweb says:

        Well, my brain’s a bit scrambled this morning. I’ll go for the hard-boiled stuff later. Don’t want to be coddling everyone here.

        • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

          no complaints here, a good egg joke always goes over easy with me

          • mauispiderweb says:

            Damnit, now I want a couple of eggs over easy with my buttery pancakes. :/ And bacon. Lots and lots of bacon. With coffee.

            • Gman says:

              You are in luck. Phil’s next article is:

              “Three tips on how to combine eggs and bacon on a plate”

              “You may be wondering how to impress your Sunday morning guests with a good home cooked meal. But you usually just throw a bunch of breakfast foods on a plate not caring for presentation.

              Before you plate your guests breakfast, CONTENTFARM.com has 3 tips for properly displaying your breakfast”

              -Eggs get cold fast – Make sure you plate your eggs last. They may bee too cold by the time your guests eat
              -Bacon should from a smiley face – Have some fun with your food. Use the eggs and back to form a smiling figure. Your guests will love you and sing your prise for this unique invention
              - Don’t overload the plate – guests are welcome to get up for seconds. Make sure what you put on the plate is only what you feel they will eat.

              How do you prepare your breakfasts?

          • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

            From where did you poach these yolks?

            • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

              Because how hard is it to poach a goddamn egg?

  4. Mr Grey says:

    “when you crack the egg and start to cook it. If it stinks, discard it.”

    Wow – that is some fine reporting there.

  5. chizu says:

    I was told older eggs are easier to peel than fresh eggs. So use the older eggs for hard boiled and fresher eggs for stuff like mayo, hollandaise sauce, etc.

    • Ragman says:

      When I’m done boiling eggs, I cool them with cold running water for a minute, followed by adding enough cold water in the pot to cover the eggs by an inch or so, then adding a layer of ice cubes. Once the ice cubes melted, I’d peel them. I don’t have near the problems peeling that I did in the past. I assume the rapid cooling is what helps.

      My method is put the eggs in the pot, cover with a couple inches cold water, bring to a rapid boil for about 2 minutes, remove from heat and let sit covered for 23 minutes. Cool off as described, and I have very few that are problem peelers.

      I went from most of a dozen being bad/tore up peelers to less than a quarter of what I cooked.

      • chizu says:

        Yupe, I do pretty much the same thing but different length of time. I noticed there’s one particular brand of eggs that I get occasionally is extremely difficult to peel and the other brand that are really easy to peel even thought they were “fresher”. I think when I need to make deviled eggs, I’ll stick with the easy-peel eggs.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I guess I’ll try the ice cubes. I’ve tried every other damn thing under the sun and I still end up peeling half the egg away from the shell. And I can never seem to get the egg hard enough. I like hard hardboiled eggs.

      • SJActress says:

        I just fill the pot till half the egg is covered and boil them with a lid (medium boil) for ten minutes. Then I run them under cold water while I’m peeling them, and put them in the fridge unpeeled to cool before using them.

        My mother told me the same thing about old eggs being easier to peel. I ran an experiment on this (but only once, so who knows) and that was indeed the case!

    • pamelad says:

      True! I’ve personally experienced this many times. Older eggs (but not floaters, which I wouldn’t use) are easier to peel. For perfect hard-boiled eggs, try this, following the instructions exactly:

      Use older eggs. Cover in about 1-1/2 inches of room-temperature water in pan, not too crowded. Place on stove. Bring to a simmer (not a boil). Simmer for exactly 13 minutes. Pour out hot water, replace with cool or room-temp. water, peel under running water. Cover peeled eggs loosely in refrigerator for 15 minutes before using.

  6. bassbeast says:

    Trawling About.com for articles? Phil, this is really low. This is only one step above ehow. I’m definitely in the camp that can smell a Phil article a mile away. And you know what they smell like? Those eggs you spoke of at the end of this post.

    • elangomatt says:

      I had the same reaction about the source of this post too. I wish there was a way to tell google to filter out about.com and ehow.com results. Of course, even if google did have that option I probably wouldn’t do it since it is easy enough to just skip those websites anyway

      • drjayphd says:

        As much as I want to tee off on eHow, they actually have a couple of articles that helped out as far as trying to repair some rather ancient laptops. So that’s one point for them, which gives them a total of (checks the scoreboard) 1.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    “If it stinks, discard it.”

    This information was possible because of a generous grant
    of $5,000,000 to the “Is My Egg Still Good Commission Study.”

  8. sirwired says:

    This is “frugal” living? You’ll waste a lot of eggs like this; the egg is perfectly fine even if there is some air in the shell. I can’t remember the last time I went to boil eggs and had them sink.

    • Ragman says:

      Chicken eggs always have a pocket of air. They still sink, unless you are putting a massive amount of salt in the water. The addition of hydrogen sulfide gas produced by bacteria in the egg as it rots makes them float.

      I’ve had one egg float out of all I’ve boiled over the past several years.

    • tenerezu says:

      Perhaps you should read the article a bit more closely

    • Debbie says:

      Maybe this was a typo and you meant “stink,” not “sink?”

  9. Galium says:

    “A final test comes when you crack the egg and start to cook it. If it stinks, discard it.” Ahh, how I love the smell of sulfur in the morning.

  10. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    If I’m not sure if the egg is good or not, I crack it into a separate container (not into batter or the pan) and then inspect it. Now that eggs have dates on them, it’s easier to keep track, but they keep much longer than the date on the shell, especially if they’re kept cold.

  11. scoosdad says:

    Bedivere: What also floats in water?

    Villagers: Bread! Apples! Very small rocks! Cider! Great gravy! Cherries! Mud! Churches! Lead!

    King Arthur: Bad eggs!

    Bedivere: Exactly! So logically…..

    Villager: If… she.. weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of eggs.

    Bedivere: And therefore–?

    All: A witch!!!

  12. Snowblind says:

    If you are baking, for Alton’s sake use fresh eggs!

    Old eggs will not give the lift/binding that is the point of using eggs in a batter/dough/custard. That is a much bigger waste of resources if the cake falls, the meringue doesn’t hold up, or the custard turns to watery scrambled eggs because you tried to be “frugal”

    Fried eggs will break easy and come out rubbery if they are not fresh.

    Boil them or scramble them.

  13. backinpgh says:

    I always remember that this trick exists, but can never remember which position means the egg is good or not. So I usually just throw all the eggs away…

  14. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    If you crack the egg and a little fluffy chick pokes its head out and starts chirping, the egg is too old.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      But if the chick is cooked and is dead, then you’re eating balut. :D

  15. kataisa says:

    I cracked an egg and got a double yolk once.

    I was excited about eating twins for breakfast.

  16. Retired Again says:

    I have eaen 4 and 5 week old eggs. Wipe them with petroleum jelly and they keep – UNREFRIGERATED. Centuries old trick. Way back yonder they used Tyranasaurus Rex oil?
    Float them for a test but never saw a bad one using the wipe.

    • bobloblaw says:

      of course you have eaten 4 and 5 week old eggs. by the time they hit the grocery store shelves they are an average of 40 days old. THEN they go and sit in your fridge for another month.

      Try a farm fresh egg – you wont believe the difference .

  17. Lyn Torden says:

    I only make hard boiled eggs. So the stink test doesn’t work for me, except maybe after they are done and I have an egg crave.

  18. Vielle84 says:

    If I’m not boiling them, I check the yolk; if the membrane’s intact, it’s okay. If the yolk ruptures on its own, it’s probably a bit old and I use it for baking. That being said, I’ve had eggs last for weeks after the “best buy” date. I wonder how old they are by the time I’ve purchased them at the grocer’s.

    Still, there’s nothing like the taste of a fresh egg. When I was young, I lived in rural Georgia near a Cal-Maine Foods. Super-fresh eggs are awesome–they’ve a mildly sweet flavor.

  19. Debbie says:

    A fresh egg has a chalky shell. The shell gets smooth and shiny as the egg ages, but it will still be fine to eat for a while.

  20. TRRosen says:

    Worthless post. Eggs can be stored for months without refrigeration. They aren’t even usually refrigerated at all outside of the US. They do not absorb air the air in older eggs comes from the egg itself.
    Note – Eggs don’t have an expiration date they have a freshness date.