Free Range Eggs

How to Tell if Eggs are Good or Bad

Are my eggs still good? For a fresh food, eggs have a surprisingly long shelf life; the USDA considers them safe to eat for 45 days after processing. There's also a simple test to determine an egg's relative freshness.

By Nellie's Kindness Crew


Like all fresh foods, eggs don't last forever. But thanks to their shells, they're rather resilant. Even though the mandated USDA washing and processing of eggs actually reduces their oxygen barrier, and thus shortens their freshness cycle, they still come with a relatively robust time allowance: eggs can be consumed 45 days from the time of processing (which is usually just a few days after being laid).

How to tell if eggs are still good

The best way to know if an egg is still good is to go by the date code on the package that it came in. However, if you have an egg and you're not sure about that date, another way to test it is to simply place it in a bowl or glass filled with cold water.

The water test for egg freshness

First, fill a bowl or glass with about four inches of cold water and gently place your egg(s) inside.

Very fresh eggs will sink to the bottom and lay on their sides. If an egg stays at the bottom but stands on its small end, it's still fine to eat; just not quite as fresh. These "more mature" eggs are no less nutritious than a fresher egg, and most people are unlikely to notice a difference in taste. Two bonuses: 1. They'll peel without sticking to the white when hard boiled and 2. The egg whites are easier to whip into meringue when making desserts.

Any eggs that are too old to eat and should be discarded will simply float to the surface. Once enough oxygen has had time to permeate the shell, it forms an air pocket large enough to keep the egg afloat in water.

How to tell if eggs have gone bad

Along with the water test, there are a few ways to quickly tell if an egg is old or spoiled:


If you crack open an egg and immediately notice a pungent smell, it's probably safest to toss the egg. When eggs develop cracks during handling and transportation, bacteria has a chance to enter through the shell and can cause some pretty stinky odors to develop inside the egg. Fresh eggs, on the other hand, tend to have little to no noticeable odor.


After you've cracked open an egg, take a look at the inside of the shell for black or brown spots, which can indicate mold. On the contrary, dark brown or red specks (blood spots) floating in the egg white or clinging to the yolk are not an indication of spoilage and completely safe to eat or remove with a spoon.

Egg white consistency

As eggs sit in your fridge, a small amount of air slowly seeps through the shells over time, creating that air pocket you may have noticed when peeling a hard-boiled egg. This can cause the egg white to become watery. Although watery eggs aren't necessarily unsafe to eat, if you're unsure of the expiration date and notice that the egg whites are particularly loose, it's probably best to get a new carton.


Linda Davenport May 21, 2022

Thank you!! Good to know.sometimes I get stuck on stupid. lol. Thanks again.


Hi Linda! We're so glad to help. Please don't hesitate to reach out if we may assist in the future!

Mark MacomberMay 19, 2022

Excellent content


Hi Mark, We are glad you like it!

Kay D.May 08, 2022

This is one of those things- I'm sure that my great-nan (Or gran or whatever you use) taught me how to 'check' eggs, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the rule! Thank you, so much, for reminding me. A Google search strongly implied that I was an idiot, so I much prefer your site!


Hi Kay, we're so glad to hear that our website was helpful!

Margaret May 07, 2022

My eggs were just passed best before date so I did the water test and was fine so I made a Victoria sponge. Thank you for the tips


We're glad these tips were helpful for you Margaret!

David SolomonMay 04, 2022

Thanks from ole country Boi that forgot his teaching 😃


We're glad we could help bring those memories back, David!

PatriciaApril 27, 2022

Thank you. At 63 I learned a thing or two about cackle berries.


We're glad to hear the information was helpful, Patricia!

Christine obergApril 24, 2022

Thank you😉


You're welcome, Christine!

BertieApril 19, 2022

Thank you very much for that valuable info it was exceptionally helpful. GOD BLESS


Thank you Bertie. We're so glad this information was helpful. Thank you for choosing free range!

Sharon NgapoJanuary 23, 2022

Thank u for the information ;how to tell bad egg to a fresh egg. My chickens are free range they often change egg laying places esp after eggs have been gathered. Finding the new nest becomes a problem and usually it's found 3 or 4 weeks later loaded with your egg tests are used regularly...


Hi Sharon, we are always happy to pass along helpful tips to other flocks!

Thomas Crotty January 21, 2022

Thank you for being out there with this information. I’m sure you guys have saved many a bad day.


Hi Thomas, we're always eggscited to make someone's day better!

Brenda J Acker January 18, 2022

I love all the information on telling if eggs are fresh or not fresh thank you so much


We're so happy you enjoyed the information, Brenda! Thank you for the feedback.

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