How Long do Eggs Keep? Safety & Storage Tips for Eggs

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How Long can Eggs be Stored?

According to a USDA fact sheet, eggs can safely be kept in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks after purchase. The expiration date may have passed by that time, but if the eggs have been kept refrigerated, they should still be safe to use.

A good test to see if eggs are still good is to submerge them in water. Eggs have an air pocket, and the air pocket grows larger as eggs age. Fresh eggs will lie on the bottom of a pan of water, while eggs that are a week old will tend to bob up and down; three-week-old eggs will balance on their small ends with their large ends floating, and eggs that are bad will float. And of course, if an egg smells bad, whether raw or cooked, discard it immediately.

Raw egg whites and yolks may be kept refrigerated for 2 to 4 days before use.

Cooked foods containing eggs, such as casseroles, pies or quiche, may be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days, or frozen for 1 to 2 months after baking. Custards and chiffon pies should not be frozen.

Foods using raw eggs, such as eggnog, homemade ice cream and Caesar salad dressing, should be prepared using eggs that have had their shells pasteurized or otherwise treated to remove any Salmonella contamination.

Hard-cooked eggs actually spoil faster than raw eggs in the shell, because boiling the eggs removes the protective coating. Pores in the eggshell are then exposed and bacteria can get in. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs within 2 hours, and use them within one week.

Raw eggs can be frozen, but not in their shells. Raw egg yolks can become rubbery if they are frozen, and mixing in some salt or sugar may help to prevent this. For best results, beat whole eggs before freezing and thaw them in the refrigerator a day ahead of time. Frozen eggs should be used within a year.

More Egg Safety Tips

Only buy eggs from a refrigerated case, and promptly refrigerate eggs when you get home. Always open the carton before you buy and check to make sure the shells are not broken or cracked.

If taking cooked eggs or foods containing eggs, such as salads, on a picnic, keep them in a refrigerated cooler in the passenger area of the car, not in the trunk during hot weather.

Raw or undercooked eggs may be contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis, which can cause serious illness. Babies and small children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with impaired immune systems are at the highest risk. To avoid Salmonella infection, eggs should be thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolks are firm, and scrambled eggs should not be runny. Casseroles containing eggs should reach a temperature of at least 160 degrees F (72 degrees C) while cooking. When serving leftovers containing eggs, reheat to at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). If in doubt, use a cooking thermometer to make sure the dish is thoroughly heated.

Cooked eggs should never be left at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F (5 and 60 degrees C) because this is the temperature range at which bacteria can multiply rapidly.