Honest Fare

Pretty Provisions and Notes from the Kitchen

Farm fresh eggs and how to tell when they're not

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Farm fresh eggs and how to tell when they're not, Honest Fare by Gabrielle Arnold

I’m a neurotic egg eater. Aren’t we all though? I love, love, love my eggs. And I especially love them runny. But, I grew up in the 80’s, an oh so wise and glorious time when the salmonella buzz forever changed the way we look at eating raw cookie dough. So today I’m paranoid—cross contamination, runny egg whites and cracked eggshells are just not okay with me.

Then there’s that whole topic of ‘freshness.’ Does the date on the container mean the eggs are really fresh? I take it as so—I buy the organic, free-range eggs and hope for the best. The other day I did in fact get the best…

Farm fresh eggs!


Brown ones, speckled ones and, yes, even green ones (well, they’re greenish blueish gray…but you can’t really tell in the photo).

The speckled ones are turkey eggs, which for some reason I’ve never really considered in my life. We ate those last night. They’re like twice the size of regular chicken eggs. And the membrane was a lot more difficult to break trough than I had expected (the shell cracked but it all held together like bulletproof glass). We haven’t eaten the greens ones yet (eek).


All this egg business is especially exciting for me because I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some super fresh eggs for a while now. I asked actually asked Jason to get me a couple hens for Valentine’s Day. I figured they could live under the 40 foot skateboard ramp I grudgingly agreed to let him build in the backyard…but he denied me. Hm.

So then, how did we end up with all these fresh eggs? Well, we’re lucky enough to have some really cool friends that get themselves into really cool situations. One of those friends is Ryan, photographer, and as of last week, professional nest robber. Ryan visited a friend at a local farm where he scored us a beautiful assortment of truly fresh out the hen’s hole eggs. He also took some really stunning images while he was there.


So how did the eggs taste? Great. Like fresh eggs do. They have a more vibrant colored yolk and are much cleaner and buttery tasting in my opinion.

Eating all these fresh eggs lately has made me think even more about the eggs I buy. You know, the ones that sit in the refrigerated section of the store with dates that say they’re good for the next month. How the hell can they be fresh after a month? And why is it that when I was living in Spain, I never once found eggs in the refrigerated section and everyone looked at me like I was crazy when I looked at them like they were crazy for keeping the eggs stacked in open crates next to the bread and cereal? Why?!

So I did some digging.

How can you tell if your eggs are fresh?
1. Apparently, a fresh egg should not slosh around inside the shell when shaken.
Any sloshing sound indicates that the air-cell is big and the albumen is watery. The yolk tumbles around in the egg if it is no longer fresh.
2. When cracked onto a plate, a fresh egg has a high domed yolk. If the yolk is flat and albumen runny, the egg has been around for a while and needs to be thoroughly cooked.
3. When plunged into a glass of water, a super fresh egg should sink sideways to the bottom. As the egg gets older the rounded end of the egg will float upwards. Then at 2 weeks the egg will stand entirely upright. After 21 days old, the air-cell is big enough to actually make the egg buoyant.

What does the date stamped on the egg mean?
1. The “best before” date for fresh hen eggs is 28 days after laying. Generally the eggs are packed and transported around day 3 – 6.
2. After 9 days, fresh eggs must be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. After 18 days, eggs must be kept in a refrigerator.
3. From day 22 the eggs must be used quickly and should be thoroughly cooked. At this point they’re still good for hard-boiling but can no longer be offered for sale.

Handy diagram…

All interesting facts. Good stuff to know and wow people with at the bar or whatever, but I certainly don’t plan on running these tests on every egg I eat. However, when they’re questionable, you can bet I’ll be doing that float test in a glass of water for sure!

Egg facts and photo diagram courtesy of Caper Berry
And Gut Eingekauft
More of Ryan’s photos from the farm.


  1. K
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    I know I should know this, but I really don’t want to know this. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I’m too scared to go and check my eggs. I love eggs. What happens if my lovely free range, local!, eggs aren’t fresh? Then what?! I think I need to find something better to do with my Saturday night rather than stress on eggs ;)

  2. Posted March 16, 2010 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    First off Ryan’s photos are amazing as ever.

    Thanks so much for this info on eggs. Not more then 1/2 hour ago I was searching craigslist to see if there was someone local I could buy eggs from…..mind meld

  3. Posted March 16, 2010 at 10:53 PM | Permalink

    I started raising my own chickens just to be able to have an unlimited supply of fresh eggs. Once you taste fresh eggs, you can’t go back to their pale, lackluster, tasteless counterparts from the store. Try localharvest.org to find a source.

  4. gabi
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 9:58 PM | Permalink

    So true, so true.

  5. Posted September 15, 2010 at 9:34 PM | Permalink

    And that is why I started raising my own chickens.

    I’d always bought the least expensive eggs at the grocery store, but now that I have an endless supply of fresh, I’d hate to go back!

  6. Robin
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    Thank so much for this info. I love your blog and the photos are amazing, and inspiring. Let me say about stressing over one’s eggs. Surely yes, there are better things to do than that. NO doubt about it, but, and I say this lovingly, most earnestly, and with a smile… There is NO colon cleanse like the quite possibly unexpected, and perhaps even untimely, and involuntary, surprise colon cleanse you’ll get from eating a bad egg. So skip that egg check. Go ahead. Just don’t wear white when you go to town to run your errands after breakfast.
    There y’go. Nuff said :)

  7. Terry
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    The images are awesome! Thank you…I love your info. I have 5 chickens and they just started producing about 3 weeks ago. I love my “girls”…I call them, “sisters”. They are so gentle and sweet. They produce mega eggs..usually 5 in a day when I give them watermelon the day before! There is simply no comparison…fresh to store bought. When testing eggs…even when unsure about when laid…they are always fresh. Even in our 100+ heat in Texas. So glad we bought these chicks back in March. They are so fun to raise….all those sayings based on chickens are so true! “Madder than than a wet hen”, etc….

  8. Posted August 31, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    I found you through an internet search. 2 of my children are raising hens to sell their eggs. They have 31 hens and 1 rooster. The hens are just now beginning to lay and I noticed that when I cracked the eggs this morning that the yolk of one broke. I was wondering if that ment that the egg was not fresh? If, so we need to be more careful about collecting so that we make sure we only sell eggs that are fresh. Any ideas?

  9. gabi
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    Well, I don’t have chickens myself so I don’t want to give you misinformation. A good friend of mine does though. She writes all about them on her blog, which you can contact her through as well. http://pejorativejinx.blogspot.com/

  10. Jm
    Posted May 10, 2013 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    Today I went to my local farm and bought some eggs. I was a little skeptical whether they were super fresh or not. So I decided to check my eggs in my fridge. I had purchased eggs from the supermarket from a week before as well. Amazing what the results were. The farm eggs were super fresh and the supermarket eggs were completely standing up. Awsome!!

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