This is excerpted from our newest cookbook, All About Eggs, an encyclopedic ovarian overview and the only tome you need to own about the indispensable egg.
There’s a time and place for old eggs. When it comes to NON-preserved egg cookery, however, you’ll want to seek out a fresh egg. Here are four ways to tell if your egg is fresh.
Break it open and look at the white. If it’s cloudy, it’s fresh! If it’s clear, it’s still okay to eat. If it looks a little pinkish, it’s bad (unless it’s a tinamou egg!). Look at the yolk. If it’s sits up and looks perky, it’s fresh! (If it flattens out, it’s not that fresh.) Look for the chalazae, the two ropey, goopy strands on either side of the yolk that keep it centered. When they’re visible, the egg is fresh. When they’re hard to find, the egg is not as fresh.
Drop it into a glass bowl full of water. As an egg gets older, the water inside it evaporates. That water is replaced by air—or, in the case of a rotting egg, smelly gases. If it sinks and lies horizontally at the bottom of the bowl, it’s very fresh—1 to 3 days old. If it sinks, but bobs or stands diagonally, it’s quite fresh—about 1 week old. If it sinks, but stands vertically, it’s pretty fresh—about 2 weeks old. (This is a good age for hard-boiling.) If it floats, it’s a month old or older. It’s not only not fresh, it’s bad. Don’t eat this egg!
Shake the egg near your ear. If you don’t feel or hear any movement, the egg is fresh. If you feel or hear the egg moving around inside, it’s bad!
Hold it up to the light. Fresh eggs are transparent in the center, old eggs are transparent at the ends!