Are you staring into that fridge again debating whether to ‘risk’ and whisk with those eggs? 😂😯
Did you know that eggs can last for up to a whopping six months in the refrigerator? So, step away from that trash can and read this before you bin your birdy bounty. They’re probably fine!
Even if your eggs have been in the fridge for longer than the recommended 3-5 weeks, whilst they might be past their best, they’ve still not necessarily gone bad. We bin so many perfectly good eggs because we’re not sure if they’re safe to eat or not.
Trashing good store-bought eggs is wasteful but throwing away home-laid eggs is utter madness! Letting all that hard work go to waste. Now THAT’S what I call crazy chicken lady behavior!
You can store eggs at room temperature, pickle them, freeze them, or even dehydrate them, but the fridge is where most people store their eggs. Why? Because we’re told to!
Eggs are classed as perishable goods, and when we buy our eggs in the store the packaging tells us to keep them refrigerated.
Eggs last for a very long time when they’re stored safely in the refrigerator, but there are right and wrong ways to store your eggs, and the dates on the carton don’t dictate the day your eggs become inedible. They’re eggs, not ticking time bombs!
Here’s a taster of the storage knowledge I’ve got in store for you:
- How long do eggs last in the fridge?
- Egg storage FAQs
- How To Store Eggs in The Refrigerator
- 5 Fast Fresh Egg Checks
- What To Do with Older Eggs
HOW LONG DO EGGS LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
Fast Fridge Facts:
These are fast facts as recommended by the USDA - not ‘bin your egg this instant’ instructions! How long your eggs stay fresh for depends on how they’re handled, stored, and even how thick their shells are.
“Basically, the key is that egg quality stays high with refrigeration and degrades rapidly without it,” (Jones, USDA)
- Store-bought (washed) eggs are at their best for 3-5 weeks stored safely in the refrigerator.
- Raw egg yolks are best for 2-4 days in the refrigerator.
- Raw egg whites are best for 2-4 days in the refrigerator.
- Hard-boiled eggs last for up to 1 week in their shells, but taste best eaten the same day they’re peeled.
If you’re enjoying home laid eggs, or are egg-sperimenting with how to make your yolks last longer, then there are other ways to store your stock…
- Unwashed eggs last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.
- Eggs coated in oil can last for 8-9 months in the refrigerator.
Healthy chickens lay eggs with nice thick, calcium-rich shells which have a naturally stronger defense against bacteria.
EGG STORAGE FAQs
Do I HAVE to Refrigerate Eggs?
You don’t have to refrigerate eggs unless they’ve been already been washed or refrigerated. Eggs stored in the fridge will last for longer than eggs stored at room temperature, so it makes good sense to chill them.
Unwashed chickens’ eggs will stay fresh for 2-4 weeks stored at room temperature, or up to six months in the fridge.
Just remember – ‘once chilled – always chilled’.
A store-bought egg that has already been refrigerated shouldn’t be returned to room temperature for any more than 2 hours, which should be long enough to cover the drive home from the store. Cold eggs sweat when they are returned to room temperature which puts them at increased risk of bacterial infections.
Should I Wash Eggs before Refrigerating Them?
You don’t need to wash eggs before you refrigerate them - in fact - it’s best not to!
In the USA store-bought eggs will have already been washed, sanitized, packed, and then refrigerated. You don’t need to re-wash them. If you do, you’ll just be increasing handling and associated risks.
It’s the law that mass-produced eggs are handled this way to reduce the chances of salmonella passing from egg to egg. This “Egg Safety Rule” imposing washing and refrigerating eggs applies in the US to any facility holding more than 3000 chickens.
If your eggs are home laid or purchased from a small-scale supplier, you should still try to resist the urge to wash those eggs! They’re counting on their bloom, which is Momma Nature’s bacterial shield, to keep any nasties and bacteria on the outside of the eggshell.
Even a quick rinse will remove an egg’s bloom, so whilst they might look more Insta-ready without the poop and feathers, a shower will decrease their shelf life.
Only wash eggs before refrigerating them if your eggs are mega-mucky, and the clean freak in you just can’t hack it. Then you should wash them and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator after washing. Or, you could just eat them straight away!
What Is the Bloom?
An egg's cuticle – or bloom – is the final layer of an eggshell which seals the pores in the egg against bacteria. Washing eggs does remove their bloom and makes the inside of the egg more vulnerable to infection.
“Physically, bloom fills the shell’s gas exchange pores to prevent microbial penetration. Chemically, the bloom’s proteins have antimicrobial properties against several different bacterial species.” (Cackle Hatchery)
Should I Bin Eggs After Their Use-By Date?
Eggs do not suddenly expire when their carton tells them it’s time to. Sell-by and use-by dates are just retail guides, and they tend to air very much on the side of caution. Just because an egg has passed its use-by date, it doesn’t mean it’s gone off.
Sell-by dates are calculated as 30 days after packaging, but we know that eggs can last for 6 months in the refrigerator if you store them carefully. If you spot a carton that’s reduced because it’s nearly at the sell-by date then grab it, you’ve got a bargain!
How Do I Know When Eggs Were Laid?
The Julian date on egg packaging tells you when eggs were packed, which is highly likely to be the day or day after they were laid.
In the US any shop-bought eggs will have a variation of the Julian date on their carton. The three-digit code ranges from 001 to 365 and indicates the day of the year the eggs were packed (001 being January the 1st and 360 being Boxing Day.)
How Long Do Eggs Last in The Freezer?
Eggs can last for up to a year in the freezer so there’s really no need to bin a good egg! It will wait for you. Frozen eggs need to be defrosted for 10-12 hours in the refrigerator.
What Is a Bad Egg?
The terms ‘bad egg’ and ‘gone off’ are tossed about like pancakes, but what do they mean?
A rotten egg isn’t a term used to describe an egg carrying Salmonella, but a decomposing egg. The Decomposition process naturally releases hydrogen sulfide gas, and that’s what gives off that unmistakable ‘Eau de rotten egg’. A rotten egg is NOT for eating!
A bad egg is understood to mean an inedible egg, for whatever reason, and usually this is down to the egg rotting or being deemed at risk of bacterial infection.
HOW TO STORE EGGS IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Before you pop your poultry products in the fridge, think about how you prepare them for storage. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 35-40 degrees F and only wash your eggs if you really must.
Did you know that coating eggs in oil seals their pores meaning you can store them for 8-9 months in the refrigerator?
It’s best to keep store-bought eggs in the carton they arrived in. This will reduce handling and moisture loss which reduces contamination risk, and those cartons also protect them from soaking up icky smells and pungent fridge flavors.
If you are storing egg whites or yolks that have been de-shelled, then you’ll need to store them in an airtight container. They’ll soon get thinner and runnier when exposed to air, but yolks are safe to eat for a couple of days, and whites are safe to eat for up to four days.
Peeled hard-boiled eggs should also be stored in an airtight container so they don’t absorb odors.
Store your egg cartons in the main body of your refrigerator where the temperature stays constant. The whole point of refrigerating eggs is to keep their temperature below 40 degrees F: this way Salmonella cannot live.
NOT IN THE DOOR!
Refrigerator manufacturers often include plastic egg holders designed to fit in the fridge door, but this isn’t the best place for eggs. The refrigerator door doesn’t stay constant in temperature as it’s opened and closed constantly.
FIVE FAST EGG FRESHNESS TESTS
Okay great, so your eggs might last for longer in the fridge than you thought. But how do you know if an egg is safe to eat?
Here are five fast ways to test your eggs:
1. Sniff It
Rotten eggs smell terrible. It’s a very distinctive and utterly disgusting smell. Eggs have high levels of two proteins: keratin and globulin. It’s the globulin that releases the most hydrogen sulfide when it begins to decay and has that unmistakable rotten egg stink.
Eggs that are well into the process of decay will stink as soon as you open the fridge door, but those that have only just started to rot might shock your snout once you crack them open.
If you suspect an egg might be off then don’t hard-boil it: crack it open first and sniff it before you use it.
2. Look at it!
Crack the egg in question into a bowl (not straight into the mix or pan) and take a good cluck.
The white should only ever be white. Anything else isn’t right!
Fresh eggs have thick and slightly opaque whites which should hold their puddle shape quite well in the bowl. Older eggs have runnier whites which spread more in the bowl. It doesn’t make them unsafe to eat, but it’s another indicator of an egg's age.
Yolks can tell you a lot too. If the yolks are round and domed then the eggs are still very fresh, but if they look flattened then they may be on the older side. A flat yolk is perfectly safe to eat, but any color other than yellow or orange is not worth the risk. Chuck it out.
3. Place it in water 💦
When you place an egg in water older eggs float more. This makes for a quick and easy assessment of how old an egg is and helps us decide whether it’s good to eat or not.
“If the pointy end lifts all the way so your egg is sitting upright, then your egg is over a few days old. It’s past its best but safe to eat and perfect for hard boiling!” Chicken Expert’s blog
4. Listen to it
Older eggs sound different from fresh eggs when you shake them. It’s all about the air sack. If you gently shake an egg and listen to it, the larger air sack of an older egg will let the white and yolk slosh around. A sloshy egg is a bad sign.
5. Light it up
Egg candling is used mainly to check if an egg is fertile but can also be used to check if an egg is good to eat.
This is 2023 so you don’t have to find a candle. A mobile phone torch will do the trick!
First, shine a bright light onto the shell in a dark room and check for any fine cracks in the shell. Cracks create a gateway for bacteria to enter the egg, so are risky.
Hold the egg upright (skinny end up) with the torch touching the base. If the content of the egg doesn’t fill it and touch the sides, then the air sack is large, and the egg is older.
An older egg is not rotten or bad…it’s just old and probably still fine to eat!
WHAT TO DO WITH OLDER EGGS
Fresh eggs taste best, and the flavor will start to deteriorate after a few days, but older eggs are still safe to eat. They’re even better than fresh eggs for hard boiling and whipping up the perfect meringue!
“Don't toss your eggs just because they're close to expiring. Older eggs are actually great for making meringue—they whip up better than fresh eggs. You can also hard-boil older eggs to extend their shelf-life for a little longer. Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in their shells in the fridge for another week…Then use your hard-boiled to make egg salad or deviled eggs.” (The Pioneer Woman)
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) estimates that 30-40% of the country’s annual food supply is wasted. If ever you needed an egg-scuse to make more meringues – this is it. You’re just doing your bit to reduce waste. Good on you!
Here are a few smart ideas courtesy of all recipes to help you practice a waste-not-want-not lifestyle. You never need to bin a booty-bomb again!
Are Cloudy Eggs Safe to Eat?
Cloudy eggs are safe to eat – perhaps even safer than clear ones. Cloudy whites are caused by high levels of carbon dioxide which indicate they’re freshly laid and so safe to eat. That cloudiness clears over time, so cloudy eggs are fresher than clear ones.
Are Off-Color Eggs Safe to Eat?
An egg with a green yolk or white, or that has an iridescent shimmer to it isn’t safe to eat. This is no yolk. Bin it! This color is caused by Pseudomonas bacteria.
Will Cooking an Egg Kill Salmonella?
It will! Cooking an egg thoroughly will kill off any trace of Salmonella.
IS YOUR FRIDGE FULL OF EGGS?
Share your egg storage tips and tricks with the class in the comments…
I’m glad you appreciate a good egg. Now you know how to store and utilize them, you needn’t see a single yolk go to waste.
Eggs are super nutritious and class as a complete protein source. Store them, cook them, and enjoy them!
It’s true what they say: You are what you eat. The same rule applies to chickens.
There’s a very good reason that free-range chickens' eggs taste better than factory-farmed eggs. Chickens with a healthy and varied diet have more than enough nutrients to invest in the quality of their eggs. Malnourished hens need to keep all of the goodness from their diets to themselves.
Nobody intentionally malnourishes their hens, but chicken nutrition is trickier than it clucks!
Laying hens need the perfect amounts of calcium, sodium, vitamin D, and protein in their diet, but those quantities change with a hen’s breed, stage of life, molt cycle, and even the seasons!
You can’t wing chicken nutrition if you want to get it right. Chickenpedia offers a tasty chicken grub course that’s perfect for beginners and chicken keepers who want to improve on their ladies current diet. It’s super-easy to understand, relatable, practical, and most importantly it’s completely doable!