DECEMBER 20, 2019    |    IN HEALTH    |    BY THE ONZEN TEAM
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You open the fridge to cook something with eggs but you’re not sure if the ones in there are still fresh or not. It’s been in the fridge for a while so is it safe? Should you risk it?

For comparison sake, an egg is considered bad when it starts to decompose and smell – and its foul smell is a dead giveaway. Otherwise, eggs are perfectly good to eat after their expiration date, especially if you’ve been refrigerating them (but don’t leave it for too long!). In fact, it is hard to go by the expiration date when it comes to determining if you can eat the eggs or not because eggs can be and often still are perfectly good long after the date that’s printed on its packaging.

What happens when an egg is left uneaten for a while? A few things:

  • Its quality will slowly begin to decline the longer you leave it unused.
  • Eggshells are porous. Which means if you have something in your fridge that smells strong, your eggs are more likely to absorb that odour in time.
  • Speaking of porous shells, the acid that’s responsible for keeping the egg whites firm slowly escapes the egg, causing the texture of the egg to change and become too runny.
  • Fresh eggs have a “fresher” flavour while older eggs have a slightly “eggy” flavour.
  • The yolk becomes more runny and pale; fresher eggs have firmer yolks that is creamier and more delicious to eat.
  • In worst case scenario, the egg maybe contaminated with Salmonella, but this is very low – about one in 20,000 eggs.

How do you determine if your eggs are fresh and not-so-fresh without having to crack it? Here are some DIY methods.

#1 The Float Test

This is the simplest way to test for freshness: Submerge your egg in a container of water. A fresh egg will lie flat on the bottom. An egg that’s about a week past its freshness date will float slightly in the middle while an egg that’s really not too fresh anymore and should be tossed will float above this water.

What causes the eggs to float? Inside every egg is a thin membrane that forms a small air pocket. As the egg ages, the air pocket expands, causing it to float [1].

Here’s an interesting fact: If you want to make hard-boiled eggs, using a slightly older egg lets you peel the egg easier. So the best eggs for this are actually eggs that are at least a week old.

Also, don’t assume that because one egg isn’t as fresh, the rest in the carton are the same. Test each egg individually.

#2 Sniff it

Use your nose! Eggs that are not so fresh will give off an unmistakable smell. So the rule of the thumb is if it smells bad – raw or cooked – toss it.

Take a good look at it

This is especially useful if you’re unsure of the eggs you’re about to buy from the supermarket (after all, they may have been out on the shelves for a while). A good egg has a smooth shell – no cracks or slime (may indicate bacteria) and isn’t powdery (may indicate mold). Also, if an egg is cracked, bacteria can easily get in. As long as the egg shell doesn’t look or feel clean, don’t get it [2].

One thing to note: It doesn’t mean that if your whites or yolks are runny, you can’t use it. It just means that the egg is old and its quality has declined. It’s still perfectly fine to use; just that you’re not getting the best out of that egg.

How you store eggs can also help keep them fresher. Here are some tips:

  • Keep them in their original container. These are designed to keep your eggs fresh and prevent them from absorbing flavours from other foods in the refrigerator.
  • That built-in egg compartment? Forget about it. Because you’re constantly opening and closing your refrigerator, leaving them out at the door like this may not be a good idea [3].
  • It is recommended that you refrigerate eggs as soon as possible to maintain freshness. Also, don’t leave refrigerated eggs out at room temperature for more than two hours. Cold eggs can sweat as they warm up, increasing the risk of bacterial growth [4].