Ever found yourself holding an egg in your hand, wondering if it’s still good? You’re not alone! It’s a question that has puzzled home cooks for ages: “Just how long do eggs last?”
Eggs, just like us, have a life cycle. That’s right! From the moment they are laid, they start a journey. It’s a journey that involves several stages, from farm to fridge, and knowing these stages can help you keep your eggs at their best for longer.
How Long Do Eggs Last?
Now, here’s the million-dollar question: “How long do eggs last?” Well, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. There are a couple of things to consider.
Whole Eggs in the Shell vs. Eggs Out of the Shell
When your eggs are whole, comfortably nestled in their shells, and chilling in your fridge, they’ve got a good five-week stay in them.
But hey, what happens when you break that egg open? Well, things start moving at a different pace.
If you have lightly-beaten eggs that you didn’t use right away, don’t worry. Just pop them in an airtight container and into the fridge, and they’ll stay fresh for two days.
What about recipes where you need only the egg whites or yolks? You don’t need to waste the unused part!
Stash the whites in an airtight container, and they’re good for up to four days in the refrigerator. The yolks, on the other hand, can keep for up to two days under the same conditions.
But here’s an egg-traordinary tip: If you’re not going to use those yolks or whites in time, you can freeze them!
Both can be successfully stored in the freezer for up to a year. So, you see, when it comes to eggs, you’ve got plenty of options!
Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Eggs
You see, eggs are a bit like Goldilocks. They like conditions to be just right. Temperature, humidity, and storage method all play a role in how long your eggs stay fresh.
Understanding Egg Dates: Deciphering the Dates on an Egg Carton
Next time you pick up a carton of eggs, take a look at the dates printed on it. You might see a “sell-by,” “use-by,” or “best-by” date. But what does it all mean?
Expiry, Sell-by, and Use-by Dates: What They Mean
Here’s a quick guide. “Sell-by” is the date the store needs to sell the eggs by, but that doesn’t mean the eggs are bad after this date. You can still safely use them for a few weeks. “Use-by” and “best-by” dates are for us consumers.
These suggest when the eggs will be at their best quality. However, eggs can often be eaten safely for a short period after these dates.
Why You Should Store Eggs in the Fridge
Alright, let’s dive into where you should be storing your eggs. If you’ve seen eggs sitting pretty on the counter in movies and wondered if that’s alright, let’s clear up that mystery.
The fact is, in countries like the United States, Australia, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands, it’s necessary to refrigerate eggs. Why is that, you ask? Well, it all starts with cleanliness.
The Refrigeration Requirement: Understanding the Why
Eggs in these countries are washed and sanitized shortly after being laid.
This cleaning process is designed to ward off contamination, particularly from a pesky bacterium called Salmonella, which is often the culprit behind food poisoning from poultry products.
However, there’s a flip side. The washing process may damage an egg’s natural protective layer, known as the cuticle. This could potentially make it easier for bacteria to sneak through the shell and contaminate the egg.
The Role of Temperature in Egg Safety
Enter refrigeration. Keeping eggs at temperatures below 40°F (or 4°C) slows down the growth of bacteria and hinders it from penetrating the shell.
The chill, coupled with the egg’s protective shell and enzymes, make refrigerated eggs less likely to go bad, provided they’ve been handled and stored correctly.
However, remember this: while eggs may not ‘go bad’ quickly in the refrigerator, their quality can still decline over time. The air pocket inside an egg enlarges, and the yolk and whites become thinner and less springy. In some cases, the egg may dry up.
Even with these changes, an egg can stay safe to eat for a considerable period. But remember, no egg lasts forever, and there will come a time when it’s best to say goodbye and toss it out.
The Best Way to Store Eggs
Now that you know where to store your eggs let’s talk about the how.
Tips for Maximizing the Shelf Life of Eggs
A simple tip: Keep your eggs in their original carton! Why? The carton protects the eggs and keeps them from absorbing odors from other foods in your fridge.
Also, try to store your eggs at the back of the fridge where the temperature is most stable.
How to Store Cooked Eggs
Leftover cooked eggs? No problem! Place them in a covered container in the fridge, and they should be good for about four days.
How to Check If Eggs Are Still Good
Wondering how to figure out if your eggs are still up to scratch? Here are some handy tricks and tips for you.
Checking Physical and Sensory Signs
Firstly, did you know that fresh eggs have a distinct behavior in water? They sink!
So, if your eggs are lounging at the bottom of a bowl of water, they’re good to go. The bad ones, on the other hand, will float on the surface.
And the yolks tell a tale, too. Fresh eggs flaunt a firm, vibrant yellow yolk, whereas the yolks of older eggs might appear flat and pale.
Beyond the Basics: Dates and Sniff Tests
Now, if you’re not sure about the age of your eggs, there are more ways to ensure their freshness. Take a look at the sell-by or expiration date on the carton.
If the current date comes before the printed date, you’re all clear.
Alternatively, you can check the pack date. This is typically a three-digit number representing the day of the year when the eggs were washed and packaged (for instance, January 1 would be 001).
Eggs that are less than 30 days from this date are still in the clear.
But don’t worry if the date has passed. Eggs may remain good for a few weeks beyond these dates. At this point, it’s time for the sniff test. Crack the egg open on a clean, white plate. If you detect a foul odor, it’s best to discard the egg.
A Word of Caution
Keep in mind, though, that a perfectly normal-looking and odorless egg could still be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. This sneaky bacteria can make you sick but won’t change the appearance or smell of the egg.
Hence, it’s crucial to cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm. That way, any potential bacteria present get destroyed.
For any dishes containing eggs, like casseroles, ensure they’re cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
While some people love their eggs undercooked, certain groups, like young children, older adults, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems, should avoid this to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Using Older Eggs
Got a bunch of older eggs stashed away? They’re not past their prime yet!
Creative and Tasty Uses for Older Eggs
While older eggs might not be your first choice for a sunny-side-up breakfast, they still shine in many other culinary applications.
For one, older eggs are the superstars of the boiling world. You see, as eggs age, their air pockets expand. This makes them way easier to peel post-boiling, which is a major plus.
Think hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, or egg salad – all perfectly suited for your slightly past-prime eggs.
What’s more? Older eggs fit the bill for scrambled eggs, omelets, casseroles, or quiches. So, you’ve got plenty of egg-citing (get it?) options to put these eggs to good use.
Freshness Matters for Certain Dishes
Now, you might be wondering: are there any situations when the freshness of eggs is non-negotiable? You bet!
Fried eggs and poached eggs are best made with fresh eggs. As eggs age, the yolk and whites tend to become runnier.
The result? Using an older egg could turn your firm fried egg or your compact poached egg into a runny mess. So, for these dishes, the fresher the egg, the better.
Moreover, if you’re looking to bake, fresh eggs might be a better bet as well. That’s because older eggs might not rise to the occasion as leavening agents.
However, rest assured that older eggs can still contribute to almost any culinary creation.
Just remember: if you’re uncertain about an egg’s freshness, crack it open and give it a good sniff before use. This way, you’re sure to have a winning egg experience every time!
Frequently Asked Questions for How Long Eggs Last
We’ve covered a lot, but there are still a few questions you might be wondering about.
I’ve had a carton of eggs in my fridge for a few weeks. Can I still use them?
Chances are, you can! Try the water test we talked about earlier. If the egg sinks, it’s still good to use.
Why do hard-cooked eggs spoil faster than fresh eggs?
Isn’t it egg-strange? Once you cook an egg, the protective outer layer is removed, making them spoil faster. So eat up those hard-boiled eggs within a week!
In a nutshell (or should we say eggshell?), keeping eggs fresh is all about understanding their life cycle, storing them correctly, and knowing how to check for freshness.
How long do eggs last without refrigeration?
Well, this depends on where you live. In countries like the US, where eggs are washed and sanitized after being laid, they need to be refrigerated and typically last up to three weeks.
In many European countries, where eggs are not washed, they can be stored at room temperature for up to 21 days.
How can you tell if an egg is bad?
There are a few ways. One of the simplest methods is the sniff test. If an egg smells off or foul, it’s probably past its prime.
You can also try the float test. Fill a bowl with water and gently place your egg in it. Fresh eggs sink because they have less air; if your egg floats, it’s likely not fresh. But the ultimate test is cracking it open. Any odd color or smell? Toss it.
Can eggs last 4 months in the fridge?
While eggs do have a pretty impressive shelf life in the fridge, four months might be pushing it. The general rule of thumb is that whole, refrigerated eggs can last up to five weeks past their pack date.
Always check the sell-by or expiration date on the carton. If the eggs pass the smell and visual test, you’re good to go!
How long before eggs spoil?
In the fridge, eggs can stay fresh up to five weeks past the pack date. But remember, the longer they’re stored, the more the quality declines.
Eggs don’t really spoil in the traditional sense. Instead, they dry up, and the whites and yolks become thinner. Always check for signs of spoilage like a funny smell, discoloration, or if the egg floats in water.
So there you have it, your complete guide to “how long do eggs last.”
Remember, the best way to ensure your eggs stay fresh is to store them properly – in the fridge, at a steady cool temperature. And when in doubt, give them a sniff or a look before use! Safety first, right?
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?