How to tell if eggs are good or bad, and ways to keep them fresh

Not convinced by the use-by dates on your eggs? There are other ways to check (Picture: Getty)

How do you like your eggs in the morning? Ideally fresh, with golden yolks and the perfect consistency, we assume.

Well, to avoid breakfast being a disappointment and dreams of the perfect poached egg set atop some avocado on toast you may want to check just want to check if they’ve gone bad.

Whether you’ve had a cracking run so far with farm-fresh eggs or have had the misfortune of your morning meal going awry, there are plenty of ways to see if your eggs are still edible.

Read on to discover what to look out for.

How can you tell if your eggs are fresh?

There are several tests you can do to check if your eggs are still good, and they’re all relatively easy and mess-free.

1. The water test

One of the most popular methods for checking the state of your egg is to pop it gently in a glass. If it sinks and lies horizontally, it’s fresh, but if it floats it’s stale and should not be eaten.

This is because some of the gases within the egg escape through small pores within the shell over time. So, the egg gradually loses mass, which leads to the reason for it floating.

Putting your egg into a glass of water can quickly tell you how fresh it is (Picture: Creativ Studio Heinemann via Getty)

2. The sniff test

If your egg carton has been binned and you’re unsure of the sell-by date, another easy way to assess the freshness is by smelling them.

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Crack the egg in a bowl and if it emits a pungent sulfuric smell it’s time to bin it.

You can immediately tell a bad egg from the way it smells (Picture: stilllifephotographer via Getty)

3. The sight test

You’ll also generally know how fresh an egg is by looking at the colour and consistency of it – when raw.

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If your egg’s consistency is rather runny, once crack, it’s probably stale (Picture: Yagi Studio via Getty)

If you spot discolouration in the yolk or whites, especially any pink, blue, green or black flecks, you should discard the egg.

Moreover if the egg has a cracked or slimy shell it could indicate it has been contaminated with bacteria.

The general consensus is that a good egg will have a vibrant orange or yellow yolk and the egg white will be thick and gloopy, rather than excessively runny.

If the yolk is runny, the egg might be past its prime – so it should still be fine to eat, but might not taste the best.

4. The shake test

Shaking your egg can also give away how fresh it could be (Picture: Nazman Mizan via Getty)

While it may sound odd, shaking your eggs can also prove freshness.


If you hear a sloshing sound upon shaking them, it shows that they are old and have potentially gone bad.

As per the previous tip, if your egg’s consistency is too runny it’s probably stale.

How can you keep your eggs fresh?

While there are heated debates about this, the Food Standards Agency states that whole eggs should ‘ideally’ be stored in the fridge – particularly if you’re storing cracked eggs for use later (within 24 hours).

To avoid your eggs being damaged, it’s best to keep them in the egg carton you bought them in and in the centre of your fridge. This is because they are kept cooler there than in your fridge door.

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If you remove them from the carton, keep them in a clear space within the egg holders often provided with your fridge to avoid breakage or tiny cracks that allow air in.

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According to Egg Info by British Lion eggs: ‘For optimum freshness and food safety, eggs should be kept at a constant temperature below 20°C’. Therefore, cupboard storage is not recommended as kitchen temperatures regularly fluctuate.

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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.