If you are one of the rare few who buy a carton of eggs and don’t use them within a week, you may have often found yourself taking a gamble on an egg that you didn’t quite like the look of. We all do it at some point, right? Between rumors of eggs outlasting their best-before by massive amounts and the fact that the contents are sealed in a shell, it is easy to fall into this trap. But there are few culinary nightmares we find more disturbing than cracking a normal-looking egg onto the pan, only to be pushed back, revolted from its rotten smell. It truly is an awful experience, and one to be avoided if at all possible.
So, there is a lot of debate online about how to store eggs and how long they keep. Some swear by storing them in the fridge, others in the pantry. There are rumors galore to fact check to see what comes out as truth and what comes out as essentially an old wives tale. We’ll also give you some handy tips to make sure you never have to experience the smell of partially cooked rotten egg again. There’s a lot to get through, so let’s begin by breaking down the best way to store eggs.
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The Best Way to Store Eggs
The trick to storing eggs really hinges quite a lot on where you are in the world. For example, eggs in the UK aren’t processed in the same way as those in the US and can be stored in the pantry for prolonged periods. Eggs in the US and several other countries worldwide go through a washing process that protects against salmonella. However, this also removes a protective layer of the shell, making it more susceptible to bacteria. So, in this section, we’re going to focus more on the American style of processing eggs as it is relatively common.
You may have noticed that eggs aren’t always located in the fridges at the supermarket, yet this doesn’t represent how they should be stored in the home. At home, the best call is to always refrigerate your un-cracked eggs, separated yolks, and whites. Where possible, it is also best to store whole eggs in their original containers as this will prevent your eggs from absorbing rogue odors and moisture in the fridge. With cracked eggs and all other forms of raw egg, simply transfer them into an airtight container and stick them in the fridge. For hard-boiled eggs, if you want to keep them for a few days, your best bet is to refrigerate them with the shells on. If the shells are already off, don’t worry. They should still keep for 24 hours in the fridge.
How Long Do Eggs Last?
In the case of raw eggs bought in the supermarket and immediately stored correctly in the fridge, these can last for up to a week beyond their sell-by date. In rare exceptions, some can last for even longer than this but they will have diminished in quality considerably. As soon as eggs leave their protective shell, that timeframe diminishes dramatically, down to only 3 days before they need to be chucked out. So, if possible, try to avoid cracking more eggs than you will be using in one go. If you have already cracked them, your best bet for keeping them for a long time is to separate the yolk and the white and freeze them (more details below).
Hard-boiled and cooked eggs will not last anywhere near as long as you might have thought they would either. Once cooked, anything with egg in it will begin to go downhill after only 4 days – whether it is an omelet or a Yorkshire pudding. Hard-boiled eggs are even less forgiving than that, even. A hard-boiled egg in its shell will survive for up to 3 days in the fridge. Without its shell, it is best to consume it within a 24-hour timeframe. In every eventuality, either the fridge or the freezer is where they should be kept.
Signs That Your Eggs May Have Gone Off
This is possibly the most important bit of knowledge we can present to you as it will save you from ever having to unleash the smell of rotten egg in your kitchen again. The test for this is beautiful in its simplicity and its effectiveness and has been around for years. The trick is to place a raw egg in a glass or pot of cold water. If it floats, it has gone bad. If it sinks, it is cleared for cooking. Anywhere in the middle, it is still safe but won’t be anywhere near peak quality. In this case, it is really up to you whether you want to use it or not.
Though the chances are high that a floating egg will denote that it has gone rotten, there are further tests available to satisfy your curiosity. For the extra inquisitive amongst us, you can crack the suspect egg into a container for further examination. If the white or the yolk possess any signs of discoloration or a bad odor, they have to go. Should it be the case that the egg has passed this test, it is still best to use it pretty much immediately. It won’t survive much longer.
Checking for signs of spoilage in cooked eggs is relatively straightforward and only involves placing some trust in your senses. Generally speaking though, cooked eggs won’t survive any longer than we have indicated in this article. To check, first, give them a sniff. If anything at all is gone wrong, this is where it will first become obvious. Beyond having that tell-tale rotten egg smell, there are a few more subtle signs to look for first. For example, if the egg should even have the slightest hint of a sulfurous odor, it isn’t going to be any good to eat.
Should Eggs be Refrigerated?
In the US, Sweden, Japan, and several other countries worldwide, eggs will require refrigeration. This is solely because they have been aggressively sanitized straight after they were laid in order to prevent salmonella. Though this may sound like a great thing, its one setback is that is can wear away some of the shells’ natural protection. As a result, bacteria are more likely to find their way into the yolk and embryo unless the eggs are stored at a temperature that is incompatible with bacterial life, i.e the fridge. In fact, the fridge is so good at storing eggs that they may keep for an incredibly long time, provided they were handled correctly before they were purchased.
Being honest, we have never understood why anyone would need to do this, but it is possible. First, you will need to crack the eggs that you intend to freeze, separating the yolks from the whites (see? This is a lot of work already!). The whites will freeze without throwing up any nasty surprises, but the yolks are a different story altogether. Yolks thicken up during freezing, so we must add an extra additive to prevent them from doing so. Simply mix in a bit of salt with the yolks before freezing and they should be fine. If the yolks are intended for use in desserts, sugar can also be used to prevent the yolks swelling under freezing.
Egg Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions
Can eating raw eggs make you sick?
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods out there, but eating them raw can raise some health concerns. The primary one amongst these is the chance of contracting salmonella. So, though the chances of this happening are quite slim, we wouldn’t recommend taking the gamble. In addition, your body actually absorbs the protein in the egg better if it is cooked.