The freshness and quality of a chicken egg is graded by the size of the air space at the end of the egg. As the egg gets older, the air space gets bigger (the egg contents start to shrink and dry). To test the freshness of an egg – Place it in a bowl of salt water – the fresh egg will lie on its side on the bottom, a week old egg will lie on the bottom at an angle and eggs that are two to three weeks old will stand upright. Eggs can be kept for longer if they are in the fridge – 5 -7 degrees is a good temperature. Remember that fresh eggs are very difficult to peel if you boil them – so you may want to keep those out of the fridge for a few days before – some say that 1/2 a tea spoon of baking soda in the boiling water helps the shell come away from the white – then after boiling place the eggs in ice cold water until they are cool.
When breaking a fresh egg, and putting it in the pan, the yolk will form a good firm dome - the egg white will be stiff and firm all around the yolk. In an older egg the yolk will seem flat, and the white will appear watery. When chicken eggs are older than three weeks, the membrane around the yolk breaks and the yolk spreads out. The white part of the chicken will be completely watery. When buying free range eggs – or any eggs in South Africa there are regulations around egg production. To tell how fresh or to tell how old eggs are, is difficult in a shop. And that is any kind of egg, chicken eggs, quail eggs – all of them. Fresh free range eggs can be purchased at farmers markets. This is often a good way to ensure freshness as the farmer will be bring the last weeks lay with him.
Buying fresh eggs South Africa can be difficult – you cannot tell if an egg is new or old by looking at it. So how to tell how fresh it is, is not possible in store. The sell by date does not tell you anything – does it work off the lay date, or the packaged date – or maybe when it cam out of the fridge – after how long sitting there? Fresh free range eggs are best purchased from the farmer directly – or from a produce market where you know the person. Most farmers markets will have very fresh produce.