Eggs are pretty much a super food in our book. They are easy to cook, delicious to add to just about every meal, and generally pretty inexpensive. They also store in their own little containers for a long time in the fridge, making them a pantry item that can be turned into a simple meal in a pinch.
But if you always have eggs around, it can be hard to remember how long they've exactly been there — and if they're still good.
First, the good news: "fresh eggs" are very, very different from "eggs that will make you sick." A fresher egg might have a brighter yolk color, hold together more when cooking, and generally have more flavor. But it's older counterpart probably isn't going to hurt you. Marianne H. Gravely, a Senior Technical Information Specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explained to us that if an egg is really bad, you'll probably know. Simply put, it will just look and smell a lot different from any egg you're used to. If you think there's a chance your egg might actually be spoiled, she recommends cracking it in a separate bowl on its own to check.
If what you're going for is egg freshness, however, there are ways to test at home. A popular method, the float test, is done by putting eggs in water and see if they sink or float. The fresher the egg, the more it will sink, since eggs get a larger air bubble in them the older they are. That said, you don't need to immediately discard eggs that float. In fact, eggs with larger air pockets are actually great for hard-boiling because they're easier to peel. Gravely recommends buying a carton of eggs a week before you need to boil.
Another rule of thumb when shopping is to find eggs with the furthest expiration date. However, if you want to go even fresher, you may have to go straight to a farmer or farmer's market. Antoine Westermann, chef a NYC's chickcen-ccentric Le Coq Rico, gets his from the Union Square farmer's market. He looks for eggs that are pasture-raised, not organic or free-range. "The best tasting eggs are raised on an omnivore diet and only pasture raised eggs are guaranteed to have that," he explains.