When I teach cooking classes I always try to throw out bits of wisdom. I have found that Eggs are one of the ingredients that cause much confusion. For those who read my blog regularly, you know I purchase “Pastured Eggs” from our local farmer. You can read more about pastured eggs here: http://livingglutenandgrainfree.com/2011/07/25/74/
For those who purchase eggs at the grocery store the question always arises…How can I tell if my eggs are fresh? Eggs purchased at the grocery store typically have a “freshness date” stamped on the box, so you assume that means the eggs are fresh. According to the American Egg Board “fresh eggs should appear clean and unbroken, as well as feeling cool and dry to the touch.
The American Egg Board also provides a few rules for storing eggs. Remember, a properly cooled refrigerator should always be at or below 40°F. The Board suggests that: It is best to store eggs in the case or carton in which they were purchased and that eggs properly refrigerated will stay fresh for 4 to 5 weeks without significant loss of quality. Just remember the clock on those “4 to 5 weeks” starts the moment the eggs are laid. Since you don’t really know when the chicken laid the egg that you are purchasing at the grocery store the board suggests keeping raw eggs for no more than three weeks from the purchase date.
While all that is good information how do you know if the eggs in your refrigerator are fresh? Here are a few helpful tips to determine the freshness of your eggs. I learned these tips from my Grandmother, and while they may be an “Old Wives Tale”, they have always worked for me.
Fill a deep bowl or pan with enough cold water to cover the egg.
Place the egg gently in the water.
If the egg sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, it’s very fresh (less than a week old).
If the egg sinks to the bottom but bobs a bit, or it lies at an angle at the bottom of the bowl it isn’t as fresh (more than a week old).
If the egg sinks to the bottom but stands on its end it is probably two to three weeks old.
If the egg has tiny cracks, or it bubbles in the water it is best discarded.
If the egg floats to the surface it is not fresh and is best discarded.
So why do eggs react this way when placed in water? Eggs have an air sac, and as the egg ages, the air sac gets larger, thus fresher eggs have smaller air sacs. As the air sac expands it causes the egg to float. This is especially important for those of you who bake, and imperative when you are baking without gluten or grains. The older the egg the less volume created in the final product. The next time you reach for an egg, give it a float and for those of you who bake see if it makes a difference.