If you’re concerned about old eggs, you shouldn’t be. Unless we’re talking about eggs that are more than 6 months old, or ones that haven’t been handled properly or haven’t been refrigerated for several weeks.
Let’s take a look at eggs that are older, and what it means to have an older egg.
You might be surprised, but some of the older eggs are particularly useful for preparing certain meals.
I’m very familiar with both fresh and not so fresh eggs. Here’s my view.
Eggs naturally come in their own container – kind of like a banana or an orange. It’s a handy container that we can put to good use.
Having a natural container helps extend the shelf life of eggs, so we can enjoy eggs that are months old, provided we followed common sense with respect to harvesting, cleaning and proper egg storage.
Eggs are part of my frugal living regimen, so I have some experience in this area that I’d like to share.
How Old is Old?
This is our first challenge. Since I’m not an eggs-pert by any means, I’ll have to stick my neck out here. That’s okay, I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
Let’s say that eggs that are more than one month old aren’t fresh, and eggs that are two months or older are considered to be old.
If we use that as a definition, then I have lots of old eggs in my refrigerator.
Nevertheless, I’m not the least bit concerned about them, because they’re not so old as to affect their usefulness, and I use the oldest first to keep any of them from going bad on me.
Of course, I’m talking about old eggs that have been properly cleaned and refrigerated from the start.
Not eggs that have been out in the yard for a week or two before you find them.
Here is my response to a reader that did just that – found eggs in the yard that had been there for “who knows how long” in the heat of the summer.
How to Identify Old Eggs
There are several ways to identify eggs that aren’t fresh, or might be considered old. Here are three techniques you can use:
- Place an egg in a glass of water. If it readily floats, then it’s one of the old eggs because it has had time to develop an air pocket. If it readily sinks, then it’s a fresh egg with no air pocket at all. If it does something in between, then it’s not a fresh egg, but not old either.
- If you crack an egg and let it run into a fry pan, a fresh egg will run quickly and cleanly into the pan. It will have a fair amount of clear runny material associated with the white part. You’ll also notice that both the white and yolk “sit up high” in the pan.Old eggs will have just a yolk and a white part, with no clear runny material. The older the egg, the more viscous the white part will be, so much so that it will be hard to get it to fully release from the shell. Also, the eggs that are old tend to lay out “flat” in the pan as opposed to sitting up high.
- Old eggs have a well developed membrane around the inside of the shell. You’ll notice with eggs that are many months old, the membrane is difficult to separate, thus making the shell hard to open up once you have it cracked.If you’re a “one handed egg cracker,” then you’ll find it difficult to do with old eggs – you’ll need two hands.
Photo below shows a thick membrane inside the egg shell. This is a sure sign of an old egg.
Applications for Old Eggs
So, if I have eggs that are old, what the heck can I use them for? The short answer is just about anything.
An egg that is old won’t be unsuitable for cooking, baking, frying or poaching.
It will work just fine, but be aware that it won’t crack as easily as eggs that are fresh.
If you like hard boiled eggs, the eggs that are older are particularly well suited for this.
With a tougher membrane just inside the shell, and a well developed air pocket, eggs that are a couple of months old will peel much easier after they are hard boiled.
I have heard that some chefs recommend using eggs that are at least a week old for easier peeling, but I suggest that eggs a month old or older are better suited for this application.
So, if deviled eggs, sliced eggs or pickled eggs are in your future, you might lean toward using old eggs to make the job of peeling a bit easier.
Precautions with Old Eggs
The older the egg, the more likely it is that it will be spoiled.
The act of refrigeration is intended to delay spoilage, not prevent it, so eggs that are prone to spoilage will do so more readily, whether they are refrigerated or not.
To prevent using a spoiled egg in your fry pan or baking mixture, you can take a simple precaution – crack it first in a separate container like a glass bowl to examine it before using it.
This approach dirties another dish, but it’s better than cracking a spoiled egg into your flour mixture and having to throw the whole thing out.
Photo below shows our technique of examining the egg in a glass bowl first, then adding it to the eggs frying in the pan.
Not to fear, if you harvested, cleaned and stored your eggs as suggested, the chance of a spoiled egg is minor, but with your oldest eggs, you might want to follow the suggestion above.
This is advised if you have eggs that are 6 months old or older.