Has this ever happened to you?  You’re getting ready to make a recipe that calls for eggs so you grab your carton of eggs from the fridge only to discover that the expiration date has passed by a couple weeks.  Now what??

Do you pretend you did not see the expiration date and use the eggs anyway?  Or, do you play it safe and toss the eggs?  Depending on how hungry you are, this can be a tough call!

Honestly, this dilemma has happened to me on more than one occasion.  When it happened yet again last weekend (just as I was mixing up a batch of pumpkin muffins), I decided to do some digging to finally answer the question…..is it safe to eat expired eggs?

And the short answer is YES….as long as they have been stored properly.

As a general rule, if I find something in my fridge that has expired, I toss it.  Eggs, however, have become my one exception to that rule.

When stored properly, eggs will likely stay fresh for several weeks past their expiration date.  That’s great news but how do you know if you’ve been storing your eggs properly?  I’m so glad you asked!

For starters, keep your eggs in their carton (to reduce moisture loss) and place them in the coolest part of your refrigerator.  I keep mine towards the back of the refrigerator on the middle shelf.  Storing your eggs in those plastic egg holders in the door of your refrigerator may seem like a good idea but don’t do it.  This area of your refrigerator does not stay consistently cold because we are opening and closing the door all the time.

If you buy your eggs in large quantities, you can actually freeze whole eggs.  Simply crack open the egg into a bowl and whisk until the egg is thoroughly combined.  It’s best to add a pinch of salt to each egg to keep the yolk from becoming gelatinous when frozen.

Once you’ve mixed the egg, place it into a muffin tin, one egg per muffin holder.  Freeze until solid and then remove the egg from the tin and place it in a resealable freezer bag.  When you are ready to use the eggs, place them in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.

Frozen eggs will last up to a year.  Be sure to write the date on the bag so you know how long they have been frozen.

Storing eggs at room temperature is not recommended because there is a higher risk for salmonella to start growing.  If you want your eggs to be at room temperature for a recipe, you can safely keep them on the counter for up to two hours.  This should be long enough to bring them to room temperature.

If you’re still wondering if your expired eggs are fresh enough to eat, here’s a few tricks you can use to check the freshness:

1.  Water test method – Fill a clear bowl or cup with enough room temperature water to completely submerge the egg.   Gently lower the egg into the water and watch to see if the egg floats, sinks or tilts to the side.  A fresh egg will sink to the bottom whereas an old egg will float to the top.  If the egg tilts to the side, that means it has started to age and you should use it asap.

2.  Shake your eggs – This method is a little more subjective but can be a quick and easy way to determine if your eggs are still fresh.  When you shake an egg, you are checking the firmness of the egg inside the shell.   A fresh egg will have minimal movement inside the shell.  If the contents of the egg sound “sloshy,” that indicates that air pockets have started to form and the egg has started to breakdown.

3.  Smell your eggs – When all else fails, crack the egg open and give it a good whiff!  A fresh egg will have no scent at all.  If you notice any kind of sulfur smell or pungent odor, the egg has definitely expired and you will want to toss it.

Now that you know how to store your eggs and test for freshness, I do have one final note about the expiration date.

If you buy your eggs at the store, you may have noticed that there is more than one date on the carton.  In fact, it’s not uncommon to see as many as three dates – an expiration date, a “pack-date” and a sell-by date.  It can be a bit confusing so here’s what all those dates actually mean:

The pack date or “Julian number” is the day the eggs were washed, graded and placed in the container.  This is a 3 digit number located by the expiration date.  The numbers correspond to the 365 days of the year.  For example, if the eggs were packed on January 1st, the 3 digit number would be 001.  If they were packed on December 31st, the number would be 365.  Make sense?

The sell-by date indicates the point at which stores can no longer keep the eggs on their shelves.  Eggs do not necessarily expire on the sell-by date.  In fact, eggs are typically good to eat for about three to five weeks after this date.

Okay, I think that’s enough information for today!  Not only do you know how to store your eggs and check for freshness, you also know what all those numbers on the carton mean!

So remember…..you don’t need to toss those eggs just because the expiration date has passed.  As long as you store them properly, you should be good to go!

I hope you have an EGGcellent day!