Consuming eggs that aren't fresh is the worst way to start your day. Spoiled eggs smell terrible, taste even worse, and have the potential to cause food-borne illnesses like salmonella. To keep your tastebuds happy and the rest of you safe and healthy, here are four ways to make sure that the carton at your local grocery store contains fresh eggs.
1. CHECK THE PACKAGE.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but the container that your eggs are sold in at a grocery store should have a series of letters and numbers printed or stamped somewhere on it. The expiration date or sell-by date should be easy to recognize (a month abbreviation followed by a day), but there may also be what’s called a Julian Date below that, which represents the day the eggs were cleaned and packaged. The three-digit number will range from 001 to 365, with the former representing January 1 and the latter representing December 31. (Note: Sell-by dates don’t indicate when a product will go bad—eggs are usually OK for 2-4 weeks past the sell-by.)
2. GIVE THEM ‘THE FLOAT TEST.’
An easy way to judge the freshness of eggs is to place them in a bowl of cold water. The air cell inside an egg becomes larger over time as air slowly seeps in through the porous shell. Fresh eggs will sink, while the extra air in older eggs will add buoyancy and cause them to bob in the cold water, or to float completely.
3. SHAKE IT!
Take an egg from the package, hold it next to your ear, and give it a shake (gently!). If the egg is fresh, you shouldn’t hear anything. If it isn’t, you’ll likely hear a sloshing sound coming from inside, because older eggs have absorbed more air.
4. TRUST YOUR NOSE.
If you’re still unsure after conducting one or all of the tests above, let your sense of smell be the deciding factor. Crack an egg into a bowl and give it a whiff; the smell of a rotten egg is unmistakeable and will leave you with no doubts. If it’s the first from the carton, take the others back and have the store exchange them for fresh ones.