How Long do Eggs Last: Shelf Life and Storage
Eggs are a truly egg-celent source of protein and can be used in an array of interesting dishes from omelettes, to baked goods. They’re a great staple to keep in the kitchen and are versatile enough to suit breakfast, lunch, and dinner needs. Knowing how long they can last might prolong the shelf life of your eggs and prevent you from throwing perfectly healthy eggs away. Let’s take a look at how long they really last and when to spot a bad one.
How Long Do Fresh Eggs Last?
In the United States, and a few other countries including the Netherlands and Australia, eggs are regarded as a ‘perishable’ item and thus they need to be kept in the fridge. Countries where eggs need to be kept in the fridge usually wash and sanitize the eggs shortly after they hatch. This is an attempt to get rid of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. However, this process can also destroy the egg’s protective cuticle and this can in fact result in bacteria entering the egg prematurely.
Keeping an egg in the fridge should slow down the growth of bacteria and stops it from entering through the shell. Fresh eggs that are kept in the refrigerator should last about 4-5 weeks beyond the stipulated pack date. Or about 3 weeks after you purchase them. It is suggested that eggs are kept at a temperature below 45 degrees F from being washed to being purchased.
Can Eggs Go Bad In The Fridge?
Most eggs will last 4-5 weeks in the fridge past their expiration date, and thus the fridge is the safest place for a store bought egg. After more than 5 weeks they might begin to get a little dryer. The best way to tell if your egg is okay is to smell it. If the shell is in tact and doesn’t have a powdery appearance or cracks, it will most likely be safe to use.
How Long Do Eggs Last Unrefrigerated?
If you’ve bought your eggs in a country where they have never been refrigerated, they will usually last about a week on your counter or shelf. You can also check if they have a ‘Best Before’ date on their box and this will be a great guide as to how long they will last for. If you’ve purchased eggs from a country where they are always refrigerated (like the US) they’ll only last a few hours out of the fridge and thus it’s best to get them back into the fridge as soon as possible.
Can You Freeze Eggs?
The short answer is yes. You can freeze eggs, however it isn’t recommended that you freeze them when they are in their shell. If you want to keep your eggs fresh beyond the usual 4-5 weeks in the fridge, then it’s best to freeze them out of the shell.
Raw eggs yolks and egg whites can be kept in the freezer for about a year and should not be kept in the fridge for longer than 4 days. If you’re freezing foods with eggs in them like casseroles or quiches, the time will be shorter. You can freeze casseroles for about 4 months, and pies or quiches for 1-2 months (unless they contain custard.)
How Can You Tell If Eggs Are Bad?
When an egg is bad, it’s really bad! The best way to tell is by doing a sniff test. An egg that has gone off will smell rotten and will also have an unpleasant looking appearance. Sliminess or cracks in the shell point to the presence of bacteria and thus the egg won’t be safe for consumption. If you can’t smell anything and the egg looks normal, you’ll need to crack it open into a bowl.
If you notice any discoloration in the yolk or the egg white, this could point to an overgrowth of bacteria.
Thus, the top tell-tale signs that an egg has gone bad are bad smell, a slimy or cracked shell, or discoloration. If you’re unsure, rather be safe than sorry and opt for a new egg.
However, if your egg has been in the fridge and smells and looks healthy, it is likely perfectly fine.
Do The Fresh Egg Test!
Sometimes it’s hard to tell how old an egg is, especially if you have bought it from a market. The best way to test the freshness of your egg is to do an at-home test. Simply pop your egg in a glass of water. If your egg is fresh it will sink to the bottom and will lie flat. A slightly less fresh egg will sink to the bottom, but one end will rise up at an angle. An old egg will float to the top of the glass and this is a sign that it’s too old to use. Older eggs have more gas inside them than fresher eggs and thus will float. This test is a quick way to tell the freshness of your egg.
Thus, most eggs will last 4-5 weeks past their shelf date if they are kept securely in your fridge. This is good to know and will save you from wasting many a fresh egg. Eggs can be used in an array of tasty and delicious recipes, from pancakes to crumbed dishes, and thus they are a brilliant staple to keep at around at all times.