It’s a bit tricky to figure out how to tell if eggs are bad if you haven’t cracked them yet. And a bad egg is indeed a VERY bad egg—once you’ve cracked it, it will smell very bad, even if it looks “normal.”
Eggs have a tendency to be edible for a long time if kept refrigerated. They aren’t always fresh out of the chicken, but they may still be safe to eat.
But here you are, the cupboard is bare and you didn’t have the energy to run out to the grocery store to purchase everything necessary for your breakfast.
Luckily, you could rely on one thing—your carton of eggs in the fridge, which has been in there a while.
While imagining that pillowy omelet, you’ve found out that the best-before date has faded and you’ve forgotten when you bought the eggs. Yikes!
But this won’t stop you from getting that breakfast masterpiece you’ve wanted.
With the help of this definitive guide, you’re going to unlock some common signs that your eggs have gone rotten, plus a few tips to help keep your eggs fresh, to begin with.
There are four ways to check whether the eggs are still okay to consume. The simplest and the most reliable way is to check the best-before date in the carton or tray.
The best-before date implies the end of the period in which the eggs are safe to eat and is calculated as six weeks from the day the egg is packed into the container.
But relying on the best-before date doesn’t benefit you all the time, especially when you find it missing or hard to read on the carton.
The thing is, you can always rely on your sense of smell!
It’s possible to determine a bad egg by smelling it.
Plus, and this is why you should open the carton and check your eggs before you buy them, eggs that have a crack in the shell are going to spoil, because the crack is letting in bacteria that live naturally in the environment and on the shell itself.
Generally, spoiled eggs give off a slight sulfur smell or foul odor when you crack the shell open.
And even if you cook them, the scent will remain.
If you don’t want to crack and smell the eggs to check if they’re bad, then you should conduct the egg floating test. The egg floating test will give you an idea of how old the egg is, but it still may be safe to eat. You won’t TRULY know until you break the egg.
For this experiment, gather a bowl or glass cup filled with cold tap water and your eggs.
To perform the test, simply fill the bowl or glass cup with cold tap water and put the eggs in it. If your eggs happen to sink to the bottom and lay flat on one side, it means they’re fresh and safe to eat. If your eggs tilt upwards or float, it’s considered old.
This is because of the large air cell formed from the base of the eggs.
Aside from the egg floating test, another smart method to know if your eggs are safe to cook or consume is checking their appearance.
Typically, bad eggs feature pink, blue, green, or black discoloration in the yolk or whites.
If the yolk or whites are running, this is a sign that the egg is old and its quality has declined.
Also, a shell with a powdery appearance and sliminess indicates the presence of bacteria and mold. A little dirt on most eggshells does not indicate age.
Pro Tip: If you have a carton or loose eggs that you just don’t remember when you got them, or even if they’ve already sat out for too long, your best bet is to crack the eggs into a SEPARATE bowl from your recipe or meal in progress, so that if it’s a bad egg, you won’t ruin the rest of your ingredients.
You can throw out the egg that’s bad, and try again with another egg.
Tips on keeping eggs fresh
Eggs are so versatile, but it’s important to keep them cool.
To avoid this dilemma, it’s essential to know how to keep your eggs fresh.
Here are some important tips on keeping eggs fresh at home:
- Keep the egg cool, preferably under 41°F.
- Store leftover broken eggs in an airtight container. To keep them from drying out, pour a little bit of water over the egg. Once ready to use, drain the water.
- Don’t put them in the built-in egg compartment in your fridge that may be in your fridge door. Instead, place them in the main part of the fridge where the temperature is coldest, preferably toward the back.
- Never wash your eggs before you store them. Rinsing the eggs may affect the bloom or the outermost covering which makes them resistant to bacteria.
- Freeze the eggs if you want to enjoy them for longer than three to five weeks. But make sure not to freeze them in the shell and store them either beaten or separated.
Best way to store eggs
The best way to store the fresh eggs is to put them in the main part of the refrigerator and not in the egg built-in compartment that may be in the door of the fridge.
This is to ensure to keep a consistent and cool temperature for your eggs.
Also, leave the eggs in their carton as it protects the eggs and prevents them from absorbing the odors and flavors from other foods in your fridge.
Note on fresh eggs from backyard chickens:
If you are lucky enough to have eggs straight from backyard chickens, they can be left out on the counter in a bowl for days, as long as they have not already been refrigerated.
Any eggs that have been chilled need to stay chilled, as the eggshell expands and contracts going warm to cold and back again, and this process may let in bacteria. The cold fridge limits bacterial growth.
For storing hard-boiled eggs, keep them in an airtight container. If you already peeled the eggs, keep them moist by covering them with a damp paper towel.
If you’re planning to enjoy the eggs for longer than three to five weeks, freezing them is your best option! For whole eggs, break and beat them until blended then place in a freezer bag or container.
Don’t forget to label it with the date and number of eggs used in the mixture.
For whites, make sure that no yolk is mixed in with the whites. Place the whites into a freezer bag or container and label the container before sliding it into the freezer.
Storing the egg yolk might look challenging but it’s manageable. Simply mix four yolks with a pinch of salt and one and a half teaspoons of sugar or corn syrup. Pour the mixture into a freezer bag then label it.
The bottom line
So, in an eggshell, the best way to tell if an egg is bad:
- You’ve had the egg for an indeterminate amount of time and you’ve just noticed that there is a crack in it. It’s been letting bacteria in, so it may not be safe to eat, and you should toss the egg in the trash.
- You break the egg and find that it smells bad, or the yolk or white is very discolored, or both. Definitely toss the egg in the trash.
- You may discover through the egg floating test that your egg is older and not as fresh as you may have hoped, but it may still be edible. And you won’t know until you crack it open.
- CookingChew Tip: Your best bet when you are unsure is to crack your egg in its own bowl so you don’t ruin the rest of your ingredients with a possibly bad egg. Then use a fresh bowl and try another egg.