Do you ever find yourself in the grocery store looking through countless cartons of eggs trying to decide which seem the freshest? Sure, you can always take a glance at the “best by” or “sell by” dates on the cartons, but unless you saw the hen lay the eggs, it’s nearly impossible to determine their freshness–until now.
Fortunately for egg consumers everywhere, there is an easy trick you can use to figure out when the eggs were packaged. Next time you’re at the store, you can be sure to take the freshest eggs home.
In a YouTube video posted by America’s Test Kitchen, editor-in-chief of Cook’s Illustrated magazine Dan Souza shared a fantastic yet simple technique to check when your eggs were packed. Souza mentions that all you need to find is a three-digit number printed on the carton near the “best by” date.
Used on the Julian calendar, the three-digit number signifies the day of the year in which the eggs were packed. For instance, 001 indicates the eggs were packed on January 1, and 004 means the eggs were packed on January 4, up through 365, which means they were packed on December 31. Souza recommends using this useful trick to pinpoint eggs that are less than three weeks old to help you make your tastiest egg recipes.
Although many people believe the “float test” is the best way to measure the freshness of eggs, the video also explains how deceptive the test can be. It is said that the freshest egg will sink in a bowl of water and the oldest will float (due to the air pockets formed inside the egg that expand over time). Souza says it can take nearly four to six months for an egg to float– which is way past an egg’s prime freshness.
Using a little math and looking for those three essential numbers on a carton can mean all the difference in your next egg-inspired masterpiece.Related: Reasons Why Eggs Are the Most Important Food in your Diet