Eggs are the mother of all versatility when it comes to breakfast. Scrambled, over-easy, omelets, skillets, casseroles. But what happens when it’s past the expiration date? Do eggs go bad?
Yes, eggs will go bad. When an egg goes bad, there is bacteria or mold growing inside the egg shell. Eggs will begin to go bad if left for long periods of time in the refrigerator, or left out at room temperature. When an egg goes bad, the air pocket within will grow larger, while the egg whites will grow thinner.
Let’s take a look at how long eggs will last in varying conditions, and how to tell if they’ve gone bad.
Do Eggs Go Bad? How Long Do Eggs Last?
With a wide variety of ways to cook them, eggs are an excellent choice for any meal. But they do expire, and it’s good to know how fast.
How Long Do Eggs Last Outside?
Eggs that are left outside will begin to deteriorate at differing degrees depending on the temperature. If it is 30-40°F, your eggs will do okay. Anything above 40°F or below 30°F and you can expect them to last less than 2 hours.
40°F is the suggested temperature for a refrigerator. If undisturbed and left in the case outside between 30 and 40 degrees, the eggs can last 3-5 weeks.
This is heavily dependent on conditions. If it rains, the temperature fluctuates, or the eggs are moved, it can cause them to deteriorate faster. Unfortunately, outdoor conditions are unpredictable.
How Long Do Eggs Last in The Fridge?
In-shell eggs will last 4-5 weeks in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that the recommended temperature of a fridge is 40°F. It’s best to keep your eggs in the central region of your fridge.
Eggs kept in the door or near the front of the fridge risk fluctuating temperatures from opening and closing the fridge. These temperature changes can cause your eggs to go bad faster.
Egg yolks and whites last for a shorter period of time, about 2-4 days, while hard-boiled eggs last about a week. For the longest preservation, keep your eggs in the shell.
How Long Do Eggs Last in The Freezer?
It’s not recommended to put in-shell eggs in the freezer. The shell can crack due to cold temperatures. If this happens and you thaw the eggs, the crack can promote bacteria growth.
You can safely store egg yolks or whites in the freezer for up to 1 year. Make sure they are stored in an air-tight container or bag. Avoid taking them out and re-freezing.
If you are storing eggs in the freezer, make sure the temperature remains below 0°F. For optimal freshness, thaw your frozen eggs in the fridge before consuming, preferably for a full day.
Keep your eggs refrigerated at the right temperature for maximum shelf life. If you must freeze your eggs, crack them first and discard the shell.
How to Tell If Eggs Have Gone Bad / How to Know Eggs Are Fresh?
There are several techniques to determine if your eggs are fresh, or if they’ve gone bad.
Expiration or Pack Date: One of the easiest ways to know if your eggs are still fresh is to check the expiration date. This is when the eggs are deemed less than fresh. The pack date is a number from 001 (January 1st) to 365 (December 31st). If your eggs are within 30 days of the pack date, they are probably still fresh.
Sniff Test: The most reliable of all tests. Eggs that gave gone bad will have a very distinct smell. If you can’t tell while the egg is in the shell, try cracking it onto a plate.
Eye Test: Visually inspect your eggs. If you see any cracks, discoloration, powder or sliminess on the shells, it’s an indication that your eggs are bad.
Float Test: Set your egg into a bowl of tap water deep enough to tell if the egg floats or sinks. If the egg floats, the air pocket in the shell has grown so large that it floats the egg. This is indicative of an older egg. If it sinks, it’s usually fresh.
How to Store Eggs?
Whether you have your own chickens, or buy in bulk, you may want a better way to store your eggs.
Freezer: If storing in the freezer, be sure to crack the eggs first and only store the yolk and whites. It may be easier to store a certain number of eggs per container. For example, if you know your favorite cookie recipe calls for 3 eggs, store your eggs 3 per container.
Fridge: Store your in-shell eggs in the back center of your fridge. It’s best to keep them in the protective carton to avoid cracking the shells. If you do accidentally crack an egg, don’t put it back in the container.
Can You Freeze Eggs? How?
You can easily freeze eggs by taking a few simple steps in preparation, keeping them fresh for up to a year.
Ziplock Bag: You can freeze eggs by cracking them directly into a freezer storage bag such as a Ziplock bag. These are designed to keep air and frost out of the container, keeping the eggs fresh. This also eliminates the need for bulky containers.
Airtight Container: You can place your egg yolks or egg whites (or both) in an airtight container such as a Tupperware. Make sure the lid seals and there is as little air as possible in the container.
In the Shell: It’s not recommended to freeze in-shell eggs in the freezer. The shells can become fragile due to the cold and crack. However, if you have to freeze them, keep them in the protective carton. This lessens the risk of cracking due to movement.
How to Thaw Eggs?
Once your eggs are frozen, you’ll need a way to thaw them.
Freezer to fridge: Plan ahead. Take your eggs out of the freezer and allow them to thaw for up to a day in the fridge.
Fridge to recipe: Once the eggs have properly thawed in the fridge, they are ready to use in your favorite recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions About Egg Shelf Life
It can be worrisome to eat foods past the expiration date, but fear not when it comes to eggs!
Can I eat eggs that are expired by more than a month? Yes, you can, but use caution. Expiration dates are a recommendation for when an egg will most likely lose its freshness. This does not always mean the egg is bad. Check for cracks in the shell, strange smells, or discoloration.
Is there a difference in shelf life between white eggs and brown eggs? No. The color of the egg depends only on the breed of the chicken. The eggs themselves are all nearly identical in nutritional value and consistency. Some chickens even lay blue eggs, but they don’t last any longer.
Eggs do go bad, but it takes a lot for an egg to go bad. If you’re throwing your eggs out because the expiration date is up, you could be wasting money.