How Long Can You Eat Eggs Past the Expiration Date?
Expired eggs sound scary, but there’s a good chance that they’re perfectly safe to eat. How, exactly? To best explain, let’s consider this scenario: You're in the midst of making banana bread. You've got the butter softened, the bananas mashed, the dry ingredients combined. Now you need your eggs. Gasp! They expired two weeks ago. What would you do in this situation: Use them and never look back, or hope your neighbors can rescue you with fresher eggs?
Is it safe to eat expired eggs?
You can probably eat those expired eggs and never look back. If refrigerated, eggs typically stay safe well after their expiration date. Regardless of what that date actually is, the optimal storage time for raw eggs in their shells, according to the USDA, is three to five weeks. So, if you’ve noticed your eggs are three weeks past their expiration date, you’re technically good to go. However, there are a few tests you can try to ensure that your eggs are still good as new.
How to Tell If Eggs Are Old
1. The float test
If the idea of using a slightly out of date egg makes you even the least bit nervous, here's a simple test you can do to see if your egg is past its prime.
Fill a large pitcher or glass with water. Gently release the egg into the water. If the egg sinks, it's still good. If it floats, it's old.
Yes, floating eggs are old, they aren’t necessarily bad. Here's why: eggshells are porous. As eggs age, the air cell grows larger. Older eggs have larger air cells, so they float. Newer eggs have smaller air cells, so they sink. However, according to the USDA, even eggs that float may still be good.
2. Shake it
While not as reliable as the float test, you can hold an egg up to your ear and give it a good shake to see if it’s gone past its prime. If you can hear liquid sloshing around in the egg, that’s a sign that the yolk has gone thin and watery. If you don’t hear it, the yolk is likely still fresh and safe to use.
3. Use your nose
This one is simple: if the egg smells foul, rotten, or distinctly like sulfur, throw it away! When eggs are cracked, they should have a neutral scent that’s not very strong.
4. Look closely
While the egg is still in its shell, do a quick scan for mold, slime, or a powdery residue. If you see any of those signs, throw it out. Additionally, the whites of old eggs will spread out faster and appear flatter than fresh yolks. They can also change color — if an egg white is pink or iridescent, throw it out. That’s a sign that the eggs are spoiled due to bacteria, and are not safe to eat. Additionally, if the egg white is clear and not a cloudy white, that’s a sign that the egg is aging.
How to store eggs safely
What’s probably more important than worrying about whether your egg is out of date? Buying good quality eggs in the first place. The USDA recommends always buying your eggs from a refrigerated case, as this is an indicator that they have been properly stored. Before you buy them, open up the carton and make sure the eggs have clean, uncracked shells. Next, reference the expiration date (it may be listed as “EXP” or “Sell by”), which the USDA regulates to be no more than 30 days after the pack date of the eggs.
Lastly, make sure to refrigerate your purchased eggs as soon as possible. If you think you won’t be home for a few hours after leaving the grocery store, consider storing your eggs in a cooler. Per the USDA, eggs should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours.