Are These Eggs Fresh?

As chicken owners, we can all relate to the large abundance of eggs our hens provide for our family and friends. While most of our birds will consistently lay in their nest boxes, it is not uncommon to have a sneaky hen or two that choose their particular hidden spot to lay. Even when eggs are meticulously collected daily, eggs that a hen has laid in a secret nesting spot will have questionable freshness.

Five of the most reliable ways to determine the freshness of eggs are the float test, the bowl test, the candle test, the shake test, and the open crack test. Most of these methods do not require you to break the egg, and each one of these tests is both reliable and simple enough to do at home

Fresh Eggs - Float Test - Meyer Hatchery

The Float Test

The first of our freshness tests is the float test. While this test is not 100% accurate, the eggs that pass this test are safe enough to eat.  

  • Fill a small container with about 4-6 inches of room temperature water.  
  • Then gently place the egg into the water-filled vessel and observe the result.  
    • Fresh eggs do not float. A fresh egg will sink to the bottom and lay on its side.  
    • Older (but still safe to eat) eggs will sink to the bottom of the vessel, but they will not lay on their side, and they may stand up a bit.  
    • Eggs that are too old to be eaten will float to the top of the water; an egg that floats is not safe to eat and should be discarded.

The Candle Test

Our second test for egg freshness is the candle test. This test is similar to candling an egg in an incubator and can be done with a high-powered flashlight. This test should be done in a dark room to see the inside of the egg with a flashlight. Hold your light source near the larger end of the egg. Look through the egg and observe the egg’s contents and the air cell that should be present. The darker the eggshell, the more difficult it will be to see inside the egg.  

  • If the contents of the shell do not fill the entire egg, meaning there is a visible air pocket, then the egg is not exactly fresh. 
  •  In general, the larger the air pocket, the older the egg.  
  • You can also use the size of the yolk as a good indication of freshness. The yolk does not move around in a fresh egg, while the yolk will move around more freely in an older egg. 

The Shake Test

The third egg freshness test is the shake test. To perform this test, you will hold the egg in question up to your ear and gently shake it, listening for the results. You should do this test in a quiet room to easily hear the movement of the contents of the eggs.  

If you hear any sloshing or movement inside the egg, it indicates that the egg is no longer fresh. Fresh eggs have little to no air pocket, which means the egg contents cannot move around and create a sloshing sound.

Fresh Eggs - Meyer Hatchery

The Bowl Test and the Open Crack Test

The fourth (the bowl test) and fifth (open crack test) tests go hand in hand and are done simultaneously, as they involve cracking open the egg. The bowl test is done by observing the ease of being able to crack open the egg.  

  • The older an egg, the thicker and slightly hardened the membrane is, and the more difficult it can be to crack open.  
  • In some cases, of a truly old egg, you may even be able to tell before cracking open the egg, as there can be a slight odor from the outside of the egg.  

Crack the egg into a bowl and observe it to determine its freshness.  

  • A fresh egg yolk will be spherical, with cloudy albumin surrounding the yolk.  
  • The albumin will look clear in color with a slightly older but still fresh egg.  
  • The older the egg, the runnier the albumin will be.  

A general rule is that if there is no smell, the yolk has good color, and the egg’s albumin is clear, it is fresh.

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