Is This Egg Good?

From left: Very Fresh • Pretty Fresh • Bad • Cat

When you’re wondering about the age of an egg, put it in glass of water.

Really fresh eggs lie on the bottom the glass, flat. These are the eggs you want for poaching and other dishes where the egg is the star.

If one end bobs up a bit, as does the middle egg above, the egg is older, but still good. The upward tilt can be more extreme than it is in this picture. In fact, the egg can even stand up straight, just so long as it is still sitting on the bottom of the glass. The egg in picture above is just a tiny bit past absolutely fresh, but still very suitable for egg dishes. If it were standing up a little more, I’d use it for baking or hard boiling. Indeed, older eggs are best for hard boiling, because fresh eggs are impossible to peel.

What you don’t want to see is a floating egg. A floating egg is a bad egg. (Like a witch!) Old eggs float because the mass inside the egg decreases–dries out–over time, making it lighter. I personally don’t trust any floating egg, but I do know that other people draw a distinction between eggs that float low and eggs that float high, and only discard the high floaters. And I honor their courage.

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15 Comments

  1. Funny how cats have to check on everything you are doing :)

    Thanks for the pic…I never have any of our home raised eggs stick around long enough to get to the floating stage, but it’s good to see what it would look like.

  2. good to know about the middle egg! we only eat quail eggs now at home since we don’t have a place to keep chickens anymore. Those tiny little eggs are SUCH a pain to peel when boiled and fresh.

  3. “A floating egg is a bad egg. (Like a witch!)”

    The missing text from this sketch

    And very fresh eggs (less than a week from lay, so hard to find in shops) make the very best poached eggs- no vinegar, whirl pools or gadgetry needed!

  4. The other thing that happens to older eggs (other than being easier to peel) is that the chalazae (that stringy bit that keeps the yolk centered) disappears. That’s why some chefs call for older eggs for omelets – to improve the texture. I worked in a restaurant in which we put the eggs through a sieve before using to strain out the chalazae (better, I think, than using old eggs!)

  5. I’ve found that the breed of the chicken actually determines whether the egg is easy to peel or not. We once saved up a couple dozen eggs to boil and devil for a party. We have three hens, so this took about 3 weeks of saving one here, saving one there. -All- of the eggs from our friendly Barred Rock were impossible to peel. And -all- the eggs, even the ones from that very day, from our Turken were a snap – peel came off practically in one piece. The ones from the Rhode Island Red were hit and miss.

  6. @Anon: Thanks! Fixed.

    @Kirk: I’m not sure exactly how old that egg is, but it’s way old. Eggs do last a long time, that’s for sure. Longer if they’re in the fridge, longer if they’re never washed. They really are little miracles.

    @Terry: Fascinating! I’ve learned a new word.

    @Rena: Interesting about the breed differences!

  7. Terry,
    I am vindicated! The only, only way I will eat scrambled eggs is to scramble the egg with and electric beater, pour through my tiny sieve/strainer over a cup and toss the stringy piece. I gag looking at it because I gag eating it. It’s okay in baking or even a pumpkin pie, not in scrambled eggs.

    That’s how we get cats? I thought it had to do with…never mind. Someone just lied to me about how cats get here. What do you float to get a dog?

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