All you need to know about eggs

I had four eggs in the fridge which had been there for a few weeks. I needed them for a recipe, but were they still safe to eat?

So I did the "floating eggs" test. That is, you place your egg in a basin of water and if it floats, it is not fresh and should be binned. If the egg lies on its side at the bottom, it is very fresh. If it stays upright on the bottom, it is still fine to eat, but should be eaten very soon, or hard-boiled.

You can also shake a refrigerated egg and hold it up to your ear. If it is fresh, it will not make a sound. Older eggs will make a slight rattle.

These tests are good only for uncracked eggs, but there are other cues to the freshness of cracked ones. First, the yolk of a fresh egg should be bright yellow and nicely rounded. Second, as the egg ages, the white becomes runny and the yolk becomes flatter and slightly pale.

By the way, if you find it difficult to peel a hard-boiled egg, do not complain. It just means that it is fresh; fresher eggs are harder to peel.

To keep eggs fresh, you should keep them refrigerated. Those kept at room temperature will go bad faster than refrigerated ones. And you should store them in their carton in the main compartment and not in the fridge door, which is not cold enough. Use the eggs within three weeks.

You should also try to choose the right eggs to begin with. Open the egg carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.

Aside from refrigeration, thorough cooking is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe to eat. You should cook an egg until the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny. Eat half-boiled eggs at your own risk.

For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked - such as Caesar salad dressing and ice cream - use pasteurised egg products, sometimes found in supermarkets.

By the way, you can freeze eggs to extend their shelf life, up to a year. To freeze whole eggs, beat the yolks and the whites together. Egg whites can be frozen by themselves. (Freezing eggs in their shells does not work.) Frozen eggs are still good eggs.

This article was first published on Jan 29, 2015.
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