Do Eggs Go Bad?

If you don’t use eggs every day, it’s easy to be left wondering if that carton is still good. Not to mention those dishes that require only egg whites, or yolks. Do eggs go bad, and how long do they keep in the refrigerator once separated?

Do eggs go bad?

Eggs are a fresh ingredient, and therefore do go bad. So long as the egg stays in its shell, pasteurized eggs will stay fresh for three to four weeks in the refrigerator. Eggs will stay fresh longer at colder temperatures, so it’s best to keep them on the shelves of your refrigerator, in the carton, and not on the door.

Once the egg is cracked, the shelf life reduces greatly, to around three days for whole eggs. Egg whites will last in the refrigerator for three to four days, but egg yolks will only stay good for one or two days. The good news is, that eggs can be frozen to avoid spoiling.

Signs of Spoilage

Smell, and appearance are good ways to tell if an egg has gone bad. Fresh eggs will have a bit of a whitish tinge to the whites – they will appear almost cloudy. As the egg ages, the white loses moisture and will become more clear. A clear white indicates that the egg is older, but still good. Once the white starts to look pinkish, the egg should not be consumed. No matter what the color of the white, if the egg smells rotten, or even slightly sulfurous, it has likely gone bad and should not be eaten.

Brown and White Eggs

Image used under Creative Commons from John Loo

A neat trick to help you determine whether or not an egg has gone bad, is to submerge it in a glass of cold water. If the egg sinks, it’s still good. An egg that sort of drifts in the middle of the water is on its way out, and if the egg floats, it has most likely spoiled. This is a good indicator because as eggs age and lose moisture through their porous shells, more air fills the space. If you still choose to crack an egg that has floated, be sure to do so in a separate bowl, so as not to ruin the dish that you’re cooking!

Freezing Eggs

Eggs can be frozen to extend their shelf life for up to a year. Whole eggs should not be frozen in their shells, but should be cracked and mixed with a half teaspoon of salt, or one tablespoon of sugar, for every cup of eggs. Pour the egg mixture into an airtight container or freezer bag, seal tightly, and store. If you accidentally freeze an egg in its shell, thaw it overnight before cooking and crack into a bowl. If the egg yolk remains fluid, the egg can be used. If the yolk has gelled, it is not harmful, but won’t cook well.

Egg whites and yolks can also be frozen separately. Separate the eggs, making sure that no yolk is mixed in with the whites. Egg whites can be stored rather easily, with no extra treatment needed. A freezer bag, or a tightly sealing container will keep egg whites good for up to a year in the freezer.

Frozen egg yolks can become gelatinous over time, until they eventually become unusable. To slow this process, mix in a quarter teaspoon of salt, or a tablespoon of sugar, per half cup of egg yolks. Be sure to label the container with either salt, or sugar, to avoid any mix ups!

Frozen eggs, whites and yolks should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator, and may be used in almost any cooked dish that would use fresh eggs. If you’d like to use thawed egg whites in a recipe that required them to be beaten, letting the thawed whites sit at room temperature for a half hour before beating will yield better results.