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How Do You Know If Eggs Are Fresh



Feature | Egg Trays | How Do You Know If Eggs Are Fresh

Know how to tell if eggs are still fresh and avoid possible health risks so you can also get your money's worth!

In this article:

  1. Good to Know
    1. Know a Poultry Product’s Life Span
    2. Bloom Coating Prolongs Shelf Life
    3. Farm Fresh Produce Last Longer
    4. The Freshness Test
    5. Why the Egg Floats and Sinks

What You Should Know to Determine the Freshness of Eggs

Good to Know

Poultry and its products are a great and sustainable source of protein which is essential in survival. Eggs, in particular, is a lifesaver with its many nutritional benefits and ease of production.

Yet, these poultry products pose health risks, and eventually survival. Did you know that many of the eggs you purchase by the dozen in your local grocery store are already weeks old by the time they hit the shelf?

It may seem odd to us in the U.S. but in most countries, you don’t get them from the refrigerated section of the store. Instead, they are on a shelf right next to the bread.

It is important to know if a box of eggs is still worth buying. Here is some information to help you with that:

1. Know a Poultry Product's Life Span

A poultry product freshly laid by the hen will last for several weeks without refrigeration due to a special coating on the outer shell. Most of what we get from the stores keep this coating, called “bloom,” until they are ready to be packaged.

2. Bloom Coating Prolongs Shelf Life

This bloom is removed for sanitary reasons as it can hold some fairly nasty bacteria, but the major downside is it cuts the shelf life of that egg into a fraction of what it could be.

The bloom acts as an oxygen inhibitor and keeps it from breathing. The slower the egg breathes, the longer its shelf life.

RELATED: The Ultimate Protein-Rich Survival Food

3. Farm Fresh Produce Last Longer

So if you are able to get farm fresh, unwashed eggs, you can store them outside the refrigerator for several days without reducing the quality.

Even your store-bought eggs may be safe well past their expiration dates.

4. The Freshness Test

There is even a simple test that will tell you just how fresh an egg is and all you need is a bowl of water. When you are ready to use your egg, fill a bowl of water with two teaspoons of salt and gently place the egg into the water.

If the egg…

  • Sinks to the bottom and stays there, it is about three to six days old.
  • Mostly sinks, but floats at an angle, it's more than a week old.
  • Sinks, but then stands on end, it's about two weeks old.
  • Floats, it's too old and should be discarded

5. Why the Egg Floats and Sinks

An egg reacts this way in water because of the air sac present in them. Their shell is a semi-permeable membrane allowing oxygen to enter but not leave it.

As the egg ages, this air sac begins to increase in size.  The larger the air sack the more buoyant the egg is.


Watch this video from BBC Good Food for a demonstration of an egg's freshness test:

The long list of egg nutritional benefits is enough to keep this a staple food in any home. On the other hand, even simple egg recipes can make you sick if your eggs are past their expiry date.

This simple egg test will help you find out if your store-bought eggs are fresh. So before you cook your scrambled eggs in the morning, make sure they're still fresh.

How do you know if an egg is still fresh? Do you have any other fact and trivia? Share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments section below!

Up Next: 43 Survival Food Items That Actually Taste Good

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Editors Note: This post was originally published on May 18, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Bob R

    November 5, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    The reason the air sac increases in size over time is due to a slow evaporation of water from the egg white through micropores in the shell. Without this gradual loss of water, it would be impossible for air, or any gas, to enter the shell. Basically, the air is replacing the water that evaporates through the shell.

    My qualifications for making this statement? I teach a course on the Fundamentals of Food at a very major midwestern university and we cover this topic.

    • richard1941

      January 10, 2019 at 6:43 AM

      So, if the test depends on water evaporation, is it valid for assuring freshness in extremely humid climates?

  2. James Echols

    November 5, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    My uncle is DR procurement officer for the US Army and they store enough eggs to feed the entire US based army, in a cave in Virginia, for seven years. The rotate stock daily, newest in, oldest out. The seven year old eggs are then sent to camps all over the US for consumption. They have a lower moisture content and the yokes are slightly off color wise, but otherwise are fine to eat.
    I agree that your method is great if you are going to bake with the eggs, but for just consumption, eggs will last way longer than a few weeks.


    • JJM

      November 5, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      James – 7 years is difficult to believe. Perhaps dehydrated egg powder? They are certainly not merely put on a shelf inside a cool cave. If 7 years is real – find out and advise us what are the storage processes that preppers can use.

      • Randy C

        January 9, 2019 at 7:20 PM

        Not sure about seven years, but I heard you can store eggs for two years by storing clean fresh eggs with bloom still on them (don’t want to wash eggs scrub or clean) in water with slacked lime added. I tried with my extra eggs this summer, and have been eating them they seem fine. The eggs are seven months old currently. They are stored in my basement 60-70F. In plastic container with lid. I float eggs in water, they all have sunk, also break in glass and sniff just to check if bad none thus far., I use to bake or scramble mostly, chickens still laying enough I can eat fresh eggs over easy or sunny side up. Probably can with these eggs too, but so far I haven’t had to.

  3. Janet

    November 5, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Thank you for this info. I have yard chickens that supply more than enough eggs for one person so I try to share them. I have discovered many people are ignorant of the longevity of fresh eggs or the fact of the health issues in fresh eggs versus store eggs. Uninformed people are so ‘consumer brain washed by marketers. As you mentioned eggs breath just like the skin on our body and the egg is open to its environment. Store eggs are washed in harsh chemicals that make it absoutely necessary to keep them refrigerated to prevent consumer poisoning or at least less health issues.

    • richard1941

      January 10, 2019 at 6:51 AM

      Eeek! Chemicals! Is one of them dihydrogen monoxide?

  4. Bob R

    November 5, 2012 at 1:41 PM


    I quick rinse with water of fresh eggs is all that is needed when they are collected, but a quick rinse with soapy water is recommended just prior to cracking them open to prevent fecal bacteria and residue from getting in to whatever egg dish you are making.

  5. William

    November 5, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    …as it can hold some fairly nasty bacteria. So is a simple washing of the egg prior to cracking open sufficient or are we suppose to perform extra steps before eating?

    • Bob R

      November 5, 2012 at 2:27 PM


      It is fine to use a mild soapy solution in luke-warm water just before cracking — not hot water or you will run the risk of starting to cook the egg white if the water is too hot (140 degrees F and above). Pasteurized eggs are held at about 130 degrees F for 1 to 2 hours which results in a slight haze of the white.

  6. terry

    November 5, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    If you want to store your eggs, as soon as you purchase them you rub them with vegetable oil and they will keep for many months. also if you would like to store cheese dip it in a wax coating it it will keep indefinatly .

    • Bob R

      November 5, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      Terry and New At This;

      Commercial eggs are washed after collection (federal law), which removes the natural protective coating as well as “animal goo”. To slow down the evaporative loss I talked about above, the eggs are then coated with vegetable oil. Coating them again with vegetable oil will not prolong their shelf life. The only benefit to doing it yourself is if you wash store-bought eggs once you get them home, and then recoat them with vegetable oil to replace what was lost in the washing process.

    • ron

      January 4, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      terry, you mentioned coating the eggs with a lite coat of oil and
      i did read the samething somewhere. sounds like a good idea to lenghten
      the self life, thanks.

  7. New at This

    November 5, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    What is the story about coating eggs in mineral oil?
    And how long do farm fresh eggs last anyway?

    • New at This

      November 5, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Thanks for the info Terry!

  8. cedric

    November 5, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    I seriously doubt the government has any eggs that are 7 years old worth eating! I may be proven wrong but that just sounds like the craziest thing ever. I found on the usda government website that a egg in the shell should last 3-5 weeks refrigerated. check it out here:

    “How do time and refrigeration affect egg quality?
    The egg, as laid at 105 °F, normally has no air cell. As the egg cools, an air cell forms usually in the large end of the egg and develops between the two shell membranes. The air cell is formed as a result of the different rates of contraction between the shell and its contents.

    Over time, the white and yolk of an egg lose quality. The yolk absorbs water from the white. Moisture and carbon dioxide in the white evaporate through the pores, allowing more air to penetrate the shell, and the air cell becomes larger. If broken open, the egg’s contents would cover a wider area. The white would be thinner, losing some of its thickening and leavening powers. The yolk would be flatter, larger and more easily broken. The chalazae (kah-LAY-zuh), the twisted cord-like strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in the center of the white, would be less prominent and weaker, allowing the yolk to move off center. Refrigeration slows the loss of quality over time. ” – usda website

    • Bob R

      November 5, 2012 at 6:02 PM


      I agree with your skepticism over the 7 year claim. I have an e-mail inquiry in with an Army colleague (he’s “in the know”) about this and will post his reply when I get it.

      The reason for the change in consistency of the egg white is due to the presence of an enzyme, lysozyme, which slowly breaks down the proteins in the white, thereby making it thinner in the older eggs. As a biochemist, I really have a very hard time believing that eggs could last for 7 years when one considers all the biochemical reactions taking place all the time. There’d be just way too much breakdown over time.

      Although I teach the government “party line” about storage duration, at my house we are a bit more lenient on how long we keep refrigerated eggs before use.

      • Percy Hawkins

        October 10, 2019 at 11:22 AM

        Still waiting for you to post your buddy’s reply. Come on now Bob, it’s been 7 long years!

    • CtWalter

      November 5, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      Everything I know about the government and the Army leads me to believe that a cave-of-seven-years is not quite factual. The Army stores every thing in warehouses that I know of. But, I am more than sure they have 7+ year old powdered eggs just ready to fill the bellies of hungry privates…. I’ve eaten more than my share over a number of years…

      • mthundereagle

        November 8, 2012 at 3:36 AM

        i drove semi- truck for 32 yrs hauling produce from the west coast back east and other goods and items from the east back west. there are caverns in kansas, missouri,and illinois and virginia. where food is stored not only for military but for all states on the east coast. as the stores and warehouses on the east coast can only hold enough food for 3 days. i don’t know about the 7 yr time on eggs but i do know food is only taken out of there only during the start of the new growing season, so most of the food you buy in the stores isn’t really fresh as some might think. as most were packaged and stored for at least a year far as i know by the dates on labels seen on pallets as they were loaded on truck i’,ve never seen anything over 3yrs old come out of the caverns. when growing season is over and things are harvested. about or less than half goes straight from the fields to the store/warehouses and rest is delivered to underground storage where it stays at a constant tempature year round.if i remember right the caverns stay right around 52 degrees both winter and summer. these caverns have several levels that go several miles underground.some levels have freezer units and some have refriderator units and some levels have no power at all just miles of very high racks with pallets and large boxes on them.

        • Anonymous

          May 20, 2018 at 7:22 AM

          Punctuation, use it.

  9. X-Beast

    November 5, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    I always wondered about the first caveman to eat an egg. I think he did it on a bet or a dare. His buddy Org says “Oog, I’ll bet you 3 of my special rocks that you won’t eat that round thing that came out of that chicken’s butt!? And the rest is history!

  10. CtWalter

    November 5, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Bob R,
    Thanks for the several rational posts. There are often urban myths and silly putty truths floating around. Then someone else hear’s it and passes it on, and on and on…

    If eggs are nearing a good end of shelf life, they can be hard boiled and then kept even longer, a couple weeks if refigerated (more but that is to taste and they will spoil, trust your nose). Hard boiled can be pickled and kept a bit longer. In the ‘old-days’ jars of piclked eggs were kept unrefigerated, but I have not found a reliable recipe or process for doing that safely. Also, not processing them safely in home can result in some serious disease risks.

    One last thing about looking for ways to preserve any food. If you don’t like to eat it now, you will grow quickly tired of eating it during a ‘crisis’ and this creates stress when all or your faculties will be needed. Eggs can be preserved as ‘hundred year egg’ for months by burying them in a mix of lime, ash, salt, and cooked rice, but if yo would not eat them every day (and they have an incredibly strong taste and smell) why try to do that.

    Get chickens 🙂

    • Bob R

      November 6, 2012 at 1:56 AM


      Thanks for the kind words. If you knew me, you’d know that I march to the drummer that has the best and most reliable information — not just hewing to the party line. What I post, I either KNOW or have a good foundation for believing that it is true.

      Now, about those hard-boiled eggs. It’s best to consume hard boiled eggs within a week to 10 days after boiling them — not “a couple of weeks if refrigerated” as you stated. Here’s why. When you put eggs in the pot of boiling water, the shell expands rapidly from the hot water which runs the very real risk of producing micro-cracks in the shell. In addition, the bouncing around of the eggs during the boil can further introduce small cracks in the shell. Thus, after they are finished boiling and placed in the refrigerator, the protective aspect of the shell against introduction of micro-organisms (ie, bugs)increases dramatically, thereby reducing their shelf life.

      One of my most trusted sayings is “When in doubt, toss it out.” It’s a whole lot better to waste an otherwise good egg that to spend the next few weeks doubled over, puking your guts out and crapping your rear end off. I speak from experience, unfortunately (Salmonella from eating a fresh salad in Alexandria, Egypt during a banquet in my honor).

      • Anonymous

        January 4, 2018 at 5:57 PM

        Just another “thank you” for your professional advice. As a chemist, I really appreciate it when knowing people populate the site with good advice.

  11. BP

    November 6, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    How long will pickled eggs last, refrigerated or canned? Also why shouldn’t people dehydrate their own eggs?

  12. Dave

    January 4, 2018 at 8:54 AM

    If you want facts and not peoples opinions on eggs go to I am a commercial egg producer, (over 3.5 million eggs a day) Eggs are removed from barns daily 98% of eggs laid today are washed, (with mild soap and water between 110-120 degrees no “harsh Chemicals”) the eggs are inspected and package, and in the cooler the same day. Many head to the store the next day. They are not sprayed with vegetable oil. vegetable oil spoils over time and becomes rancid. If eggs are package on paper pulp flats to be sold for dehydration, hard boiling or further processing for baked goods, they are sprayed with a low viscosity mineral oil to prevent them from sticking to the paper pulp flats not to increase their shelf life. Eggs cartons are printed with a sell by date not to exceed 4 weeks from processing. The eggs are just fine for at least a week and if kept refrigerated for several weeks more. Eggs are frequently shipped over seas by boat which is a 4 week trip the eggs received are still safe and are consumed over the next 4 weeks. Meaning many may be as old as 8-10 weeks old.

  13. Anonymous

    January 4, 2018 at 10:24 AM

    Just a note to anyone who might consider placing an egg into their micro wave and nuking it: it will explode!

    • Anonymous

      October 10, 2019 at 7:47 AM

      You have to pierce the small end of the egg before microwaving it. Gives the steam an escape route.

  14. Tim

    January 4, 2018 at 10:36 PM

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I can tell you as a farm raised person with a lot of chickens, the whole lot of you are just plain gullible hook, line, and sinker, jump on the old we’re all gonna die from everything we eat, drive, wear, the sky is falling idiots. Yes, the eggs lose some freshness over the course of a couple of weeks and the yolk will lose some yellow. But I thought we were talking about survival skills, they are still edible if they have been kept cool. However; obviously most of you educated fools (my mothers term for professors and degree holders with no common sense) have never been inside a chicken coop and gathered an egg in your life. The washed egg may not be as fresh but it won’t kill you, but the unwashed one with chicken crap on it just might. Now I know you’re gonna try to tell me you’re supposed to wash it before you crack it open. Duh! Last time I checked it wasn’t a good idea to even have any type of e-coli contamination any where near food preparation areas, and especially during a survival situation when medical assistance probably isn’t gonna be readily available. So here’s a thought, during a survival situation, no power, no fridge, gather the eggs every day, wash them and keep them no longer than 2 days and eat them. Problem solved.

    • Anonymous

      January 5, 2018 at 7:24 AM

      What was the problem?

    • Anonymous

      October 10, 2019 at 7:54 AM

      Good answer dude! Common sense always prevails!

  15. Anonymous

    January 8, 2018 at 12:56 AM

    Have you ever heard of a nuclear submarine? Well do your research and you will find out they go out and stay under water for 3 months at a time .Before they leave they load up plenty of eggs and put them in un refrigerated storage for the three months out. The cook cracks 10 eggs at a time for the guys to eat,if any eggs look weird or not right he throws the whole 10 out and cracks 10 more. Ask anybody and you will find submariners eat better than any military service ! So that means that eggs will keep UN refrigerated for a long time!

    • AF guy

      May 20, 2018 at 10:10 AM

      I think the Air Force eats the best of all military services.

  16. Aus Kat

    January 9, 2018 at 4:44 AM

    Why put salt in the water to float test for freshness? It works without salt just as well. Save your salt.

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  19. Grumpy

    May 20, 2018 at 11:22 AM

    Your best long term storage is water gassing….use hydrated like and room temp water…9 month to a year no problem….

    • Grumpy

      May 20, 2018 at 11:23 AM

      Water glassing…darn spell ck

  20. Ohi Hossain

    May 20, 2018 at 1:05 PM

    Great! I used to send eggs to dustbin if it seems unfresh to me. but I can try the salt method!

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  22. Gary

    October 10, 2019 at 7:18 AM

    Just a question for the egg experts.
    My son has been stationed in the UK for many years and when we visit we have noticed that the egg yokes there are bright orange when the yokes in the US are yellow. Why is that?

  23. Percy Hawkins

    October 10, 2019 at 11:10 AM

    If it smells like rotten eggs when you crack it, it’s usually a bad egg.

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