Monday, April 30, 2012

How To Test Eggs For Freshness

The other day I cracked open an egg and was immediately greeted with a revolting stench and horrible, brown nasty pouring out of the egg - I couldn't get it out of the house fast enough!
EEWWW! What happened?

Chickens have "community nests" in which several hens will lay their eggs in the same nest each day - one after the other.  In bygone days, at a certain point, when the number of eggs in the nest was right - usually 8-10 as long as she can keep them all under her, one hen would begin to sit those eggs.  Unfortunately, because most chicks are hatched in incubators nowadays, hens have lost their inclination to sit on and hatch their own eggs. On our farm we rarely have a "broody hen" - one who wants to sit her eggs. It takes exactly 21 days for a chicken egg to hatch, and I have had a hen sit a nest for 18 days and then lose all interest and walk away.
I gather eggs everyday and always leave one egg on each nest - "seed eggs" I call them, because it seems to me that when I continually empty their nests of eggs day after day, they decide to find another place to lay. Remember, our chickens are "free-range" which means that they have 40 acres in which to lay their eggs! They can be quite clever in finding places to hide their eggs, and sometimes it takes us awhile to find the new nests. As a matter of fact, Bob just found a large clutch of eggs this morning under the bush hog!

And then ANOTHER under a planting container!

When we find a hidden clutch there's no way of knowing how long they have been there - so, how can I tell if these eggs are fresh?

Here's how:
When an egg is first laid it has a very small air pocket at the large end. As the egg ages, because the shell is porous, moisture escapes enlarging the size of the air pocket causing the egg to become more buoyant. The older it is, the more an egg will float.

* Fill a pot with approx 3 inches of water and place your egg(s) in the water 2 or three at a time.

*  The white egg on the left is freshest - under 1 week old. It will lay flat on the bottom of the pot.
*  An egg that is between 1 and 2 weeks old will begin to bob and float at a 45 degree angle. (the middle egg)
*  At 2 weeks old and egg will stand. (right)
All these are suitable for eating.

** If an egg completely floats carefully dispose of it!


  1. I boiled some eggs yesterday (before I read this) and saw that several of them were floating at the top of the water. They are hard boiled--- and I don't know which are which (as far as which ones were floating). Can I eat them-- or do they become not safe as they age? Thank you so much, Marcy. :)

  2. Thank you so much for the information. I knew tht you could spin an egg to see if it was fully boiled but didn't know how to check to see it they were fresh.

  3. Thank you, thank you, this is so helpful to know. This really helps me out. Thank you Marcy. From Robin Bills, just down the street from you all.