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How to tell if an egg is fresh

Updated July 19, 2017

Eggs are healthy, convenient, adaptable and tasty. Most people always have at least one carton of eggs sitting in our refrigerator for use in baking, omelettes or any number of other uses. While eggs have a long (refrigerator) shelf life they are perishable and do eventually spoil. A spoiled egg will be immediately recognisable by its smell when the shell is cracked, but how can you tell if an egg is fresh without unleashing that rotten egg odour? Follow these simple age-old steps to test whether those eggs in your refrigerator are fresh enough to eat.

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  1. Visually inspect your egg. Is it broken? Does it smell? If not, move on to the following steps.

  2. Fill a bowl with cold water. Use enough water to cover the egg when it's standing on one end. An egg's interior air pocket enlarges with time, allowing a simple float test to be used to test an egg's freshness.

  3. Gently place the egg into the water.

  4. Does the egg float in the water? That's a sign that the egg is old and should be discarded.

  5. Does the egg stand on one end? It's not fresh, but not yet old. It's safe to eat.

  6. Does the egg lie on one side on the bottom of the bowl? This signals a very fresh egg. It is safe to eat.

  7. Tip

    Grade AA eggs have a longer shelf life than eggs of other grades. Purchased eggs are ideally stored at a temperature of 7.22 degrees Celsius or below. Eggs can absorb smells, so store them separately from onions, apples, or other foods with potentially strong odours.


    Never freeze eggs. If you accidentally freeze an egg, thaw it in the refrigerator and then use immediately. Don't take chances with your health. If an opened egg smells off, don't eat it. It's better to waste an egg than to end up with food poisoning. The USDA recommends that people do not eat raw eggs. If you do choose to eat raw eggs then it is especially important that the eggs are fresh.

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Things You'll Need

  • Egg
  • Bowl
  • Water

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Cedar Phillips has been writing since 1996. Her publication credits include five history books and numerous articles on both historic and contemporary topics. Phillips holds a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. in early American culture from the University of Delaware.

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