The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to tell if your eggs are fresh

egg rackWhen I cracked the eggs into the frying pan this morning, one egg was clearly much fresher than the other. The first had a yolk standing just right above the white like a small hillock. The next had a much flatter yolk. It smelt fine but the flatter yolk indicates that the egg is not so fresh. Even if I put the ‘flat’ egg on my plate Danny always notices and offers to swap.
“There must be some way of knowing which eggs are the freshest.”

We have a superb wooden egg stand that I inherited from my Aunt Pickles. This holds 24 eggs. During the non laying months it’s a handy mini shelf for larder overflow. It’s a tremendous moment when the first egg of the season appears. The shelflet is cleared with eager anticipation.

During the weeks around Easter egg laying is at its most bountiful in our garden. All our hens are laying well. Even Cloud has come into her own producing small whitish pinkish eggs with ultra hard shells that are almost impossible to crack.

The freshest eggs are usually put at the back of our rack. The ones at the front are eaten first, unless we are having soft boiled eggs. These need to be ultra fresh and warm eggs scooped from the nesting box are a sweet and perfect start to any day.

Considering that our hens are four year old elderly maidens (and one newly wed guinea fowl) they are doing surprisingly well. Generally I collect three or four eggs a day from six hens at the moment.

The spring is my busy season at work. The lighter, sunnier days expose tawdry rooms that must be decorated now. Mornings at home are suddenly a rushed affair. Sometimes I just haven’t time to move the eggs forward on the rack. Eggs slot so easy into any space available. When I return at dusk I forget to move the eggs. Or I leave a clutch in the greenhouse or on top of the feed bin, distracted by a Min Pin hinting for breakfast.

Within days our careful egg storage scheme often fails. What we needed was a sure fire way of sorting the eggs so that we could enjoy them all at their best.

I explained the conundrum to S. Who came to the rescue with a large bucket which he filled with fresh cold water.
“Having filled your bucket carefully place each egg in the bottom.”
He reached for a few duck eggs and gently dropped them in.
“The freshest eggs will lie flat at the bottom of the bucket. Then the rest will sort themselves out very quickly. There is an air duct at the blunt end of the egg. As the egg gets older the size of this air duct increases.”
I peered into the depths.
“Initially, slightly older eggs will bob up from the bottom, pointy tips below. A very old egg will float on the surface of the water and should be discarded immediately.”

When I burst though the cottage door with an old plastic bucket D was alarmed. Half an hour later we were arranging our eggs on the rack in order of freshness.
“What a shame we haven’t got a really old egg to test.” Danny was searching the larder for any strays. Before the summer is over, I’m sure I’ll discover a forgotten egg somewhere in the garden that he can test out.

If you keep free range hens that lay in different parts of your garden as well as in the nesting box this trick could be useful for you too.

  Leave a reply


  1. hi feona
    can u please tell me what do we mean by fertilized eggs and will the chickens keep on producing non fertilized eggs if they don’t have a cockerel with them and is it OK to eat those eggs .

  2. Ricky rooster & flock

    I will definately have to try the water trick. I also didn’t know about keeping “fake” eggs in the nesting boxes.

    Thanks for the encouragement and info. I will keep you posted!

    Nancy (aka Ricky Rooster’s mama)

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mike (planbe)

    I didn’t know that about hardboiled eggs or the meringues – thanks.

  4. Mike (planbe)

    Good trick! Thanks for the tip.

    There are a couple of times it’s preferable to have slightly older eggs, and this trick will certainly help: Hard-boiled eggs — very fresh eggs are a bugger to peal when they’re hard-boiled; I usually manage to half-destroy the poor thing! And (I’m told) for making Meringue, slightly older eggwhites are easier to whip.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Eleanor the Great

    I wish that I’d taken more notice too! I’ve a lot of catching up to do.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  6. Eleanor the Great

    Hello from the USA! I’ve dropped a couple comments in the past (one fairly recently, I think), but saw this and had to comment.

    My mother also taught me this trick, which she learned from her mother. It’s one of the only kitchen tricks I let myself pick up during my youth. I still wish I had spent more time actually paying attention to her cooking and gardening…would have made the present much easier. *grin*

    I always like when I get to share this trick with people. My fellow didn’t believe me at first that it worked, but was won over when his own mother agreed with it. *rolls her eyes*

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Cathy

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Interesting that you mum told you about the water trick. My mum told me today that they used to do it during WW2 when eggs were very scarce.

    I sorted out all my eggs yeasterday morning. Very satisfying.

    Hi Jane

    That’s a great tip! Thank you. I’ll put a pencil in the strong box in the chicken run.

    Hi Plumsource

    Our guinea fowl pair are very sweet together. They remind me of newly weds.

    Well done you – learning this at school and remembering it!

  8. plumsource

    I like the term “newly wed” for a guinea fowl! Proud to say I learnt the water trick for eggs in Home Ec at school. Hooray for state education!

  9. Hi- we simply write the number corresponding to that day’s date in pencil on the egg shell. We have 10 hens that can lay up to nine eggs a day so we can not afford any confusion! Why not keep a pencil with you when you go to collect eggs and write on them straight away just in case you do leave them behind.

  10. Hello there

    Came to you via Lizzies HOMEworld and am really enjoying reading your writings.

    My Mum told me about the water trick a long time ago, mainly to test and see if any eggs are really on their way out. Interesting the way they all find their level in the bucket.

    If they float they are way ‘out of date’

    Take care

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,259,214 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2024 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder

Skip to toolbar