pinch tips: How to Check Freshness of an Egg

Shared by Kitchen Crew @JustaPinch

Wonder if your eggs are fresh? Just A Pinch Test Kitchen has an easy way to check!

Chuck Pool - Apr 2, 2018
I just love the quick videos that give little science to justify the conclusions - and in this video, the difference between one egg and the other is negligible....and the pronouncement of "bad" is quite wasteful in my opinion.

Primarily, eggs are formed with the contents liquid. The eggshell is air-permeable, and the shell and membrane are semi-permeable meaning that the necessary oxygen & carbon dioxide exchange can occur freely as a little chick develops within the fertilized egg. Now for good versus bad, as soon as a hen lays an egg, it cools to the ambient temperature and the contents cool pulling the membrane away from the shell at the large end of the egg, forming an air pocket that will make the egg a little more buoyant - hence older eggs don't lay flat on the bottom of a glass of water. Freshness (even just layed) isn't the issue, it is how much the egg has cooled and how big the air pocket is - a big air pocket in a one day old egg will appear "bad" in such a video. So early spring or late fall with cool days would have you calling decent eggs or refrigerated eggs "bad".

As in other comments, a bad egg will smell in a very obvious way. A fertilized egg that has been gathered after a few days of embryo formation will appear bad as well - I always crack my "farm-fresh" eggs in a glass measuring cup for that reason - I want to scoop out the baby parts and put them in the garbage (ie, my leaf pile out back, let nature recycle the interrupted cycle of life). Eggs can be sold as "fresh" for nearly 7 weeks after laying in many states, but I consider eggs as fresh if they are less than 2 weeks old. Eggs are usable in low moisture cooking (pancakes, waffles, casseroles & corn-bread) up to the point they begin to have an off-odor, but for a meringue of souffle I'd use the freshest eggs I have (hence the water test). And I mean freshest, not eggs that float on the top of the water.

If you are around chickens, ducks, or turkeys and raise the eggs for eating, you likely don't have "bad" eggs unless you have more eggs than you can eat! This video is practically useless for anything other than souffles or other extremely fresh egg dependent recipes. You can taste the difference between a one day old egg and a 40 day old egg, but you can still eat a 40+ day old egg without issue...just less moisture. And the flavor is less pronounced as they get older - but they are still nutricious.

For reference, here is a vermont extension department description of egg contents:
Gary Carter - Jun 4, 2017
I was always taught that if the egg lays completely flat on the bottom of the water, it is fresh. If it stands on end with the end still touching the bottom of the water, it is an older egg but still perfectly usable. If the egg floats on top of the water it is bad and needs to be thrown away.
Elizabeth Collins - May 6, 2017
I normally love your tips. But sitting through 3 ads then seeing almost no difference in the eggs? I'll never get that time back, nor will your other followers as I red their comments. I'm assuming one of the eggs should have risen up....the good one?

Why a disappointment. Your tip was shorter in time than the commercial, I hope that doesn't become a habit. If it does, I won't be visiting your website as often s I do. Writing these words is not my personality or who I am. It just seems that everything is becoming about $$$$. Many of us come to your site as a release of. Hard day and to look for those tips to make us smile and to share. Yes, we are even willing to look a one add....not 3 ads in order to get one tip.

I'm how I feel.
Roxann Clark - Feb 23, 2017
don't get that video...what????
Carol Harpel - Feb 17, 2017
Sorry for the repeat -- computer SNAFU
Carol Harpel - Feb 17, 2017
Hilarious --- I had a sister who would break an egg into a small prep bowl, bring it up to right under her nose, inhale deeply, then use it.. She said, "I suppose you wonder why I'm doing this" - "I'm doing this to smell if they're ROTTEN"....
I replied - "D----, if they were rotten, you would NOT have to stick your nose in them to know that, you WOULD smell them". She was INSULTED!!!
Carol Harpel - Feb 17, 2017
Hilarious --- I had a sister who would break an egg into a small prep bowl, bring it up to right under her nose, inhale deeply, then use it.. She said, "I suppose you wonder why I'm doing this" - "I'm doing this to smell if they're ROTTEN"....
I replied - "D----, if they were rotten, you would NOT have to stick your nose in them to know that, you WOULD smell them". She was INSULTED!!!
Johnny Kulamon - Feb 17, 2017
On the end of the carton there is a numerical code, the last three (3) numbers indicate the day of the year, Julian calendar, that the eggs we're packaged.
Betty Levenson - Oct 12, 2016
My mom taught me this test years ago. If it floats, throw it out. If it's "iffy", it's old but okay. Use the older ones in pancake or cake batter. Use the newest and best for fried and scrambled.
Greg Wert - Oct 12, 2016
I could probably enjoy some of your presentations, but not if I have to sit through 45 seconds or more of advertising before seeing what is often a 15-second presentation.
Lucile La Rue - Oct 12, 2016
This is great but dang when you get old eggs right out of store thinking they are good,Got a test before we buy,lol
Ellen Frazier - Sep 27, 2016
I agree they looked the same. I have had egg's I know are older than 3 weeks and the water test says they are still good. Hell I've had cartons of egg's that were past the best by date (by a month or 2) more times than not they test to still be good. Now how is that possible? ?
Krista Towns - Aug 13, 2016
Well, I have to put in my two cents- having owned chickens for the last 5 years I can tell you that a just laid fresh egg may float, and eggs that sink can be bad. Only sure way to be absolutely sure is to crack open and smell them. Egg color varies according to diet, and even the viscosity of the whites is not necessarily a sure test of freshness.
Rutgers backs this up, the air cell at the inside end of the egg may be larger in a bad egg-causing them to float, but may also just be large- cause it just is! I can tell you though that a fresh, free range egg is amazingly delicious!
(Mabel agrees! :) )

View photo
Catriona Ferguson-Woodruff - Apr 24, 2016
Fresh versus old eggs

The rule that I was given by the Michigan extension service home ec dept, is that when you place an egg in the bottom of the cup filled with water, it will do one of three things:

1. It will lay horizontally on the bottom of the cup. This means it is Fresh.
2. The egg you lay on its side, flat, horizontally, will turn heads up, but will remain sitting on the bottom of the cup, sitting vertically. This means it is a little older, but is still usable.
3. You lay the egg flat on the bottom of the cup, it will rise to the top and float. This indicates that there's a lot of air in the egg, so you know the egg is older. Eggs that rise to the top are not suitable to use or eat. Throw them out.

A 2 to 4 cup measuring cup is good for this test. You want to be able to have a couple of inches of water to cover over the top of the egg when you place it in the cup, You want to see clearly that it rose up to float on top of the water.

I hope this helps.
Audrey Porter-Murray - Apr 13, 2016
The difference is freshness. Sometimes you are not able to tell, but knowing that the quality of your ingredients has declined should be enough to make you not want to use them.
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