When buying eggs from the market each carton of USDA graded eggs must show the date of packaging, the processing plant number, and may include an expiration date. To determine freshness, a Julian date or pack-date calendar can be used. This three-digit code indicates the date of packaging, starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365. These numbers represent the consecutive days of the year. You can store fresh shell eggs in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond this date.
Have a carton of eggs that have passed their use-by date? Here’s how to test to see if they are still good: 1) Fill a bowl with cold water, and place your first egg inside. If the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh. If the egg sinks to the bottom, but stands on its point, it’s still good, but needs to be used soon. If the egg floats to the top, it needs to be discarded. 2) Repeat with the rest of the eggs in your carton. Don’t just assume that they’re all good or bad because one egg tested that way.
If your eggs aren’t staying fresh as long as you’d like them to, it could be the way you’re storing them. Many refrigerators come equipped with egg compartments in the door, but that’s actually the worst place in the fridge you could choose to store them. Tuck your eggs in the main part of the fridge, where it’s colder and the temperature is more stable.
If you are DYI type of person and have egg producing chickens in your backyard don’t wash your eggs until you’re ready to use them. They have a protective covering, known as bloom, which protects them from bacteria. Leave it intact until you’re ready to cook something, and your home-grown eggs should outlast grocery store eggs.