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Is it possible to tell if an egg has gone off?

I am not referring to those eggs that have been especially brined to look like they've been sitting around for decades, but to fresh eggs you want to use and not feel like being punched in the face with a sweatier-than-thou sock.

Is there a trick to detect if an egg is rotten before opening up the shell?

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And man, there is nothing worse than actually cracking a truly rotten (not just slightly old) egg. Last time that happened to me I couldn't get rid of the memory of the smell for days. – Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 21 '10 at 3:04
up vote 34 down vote accepted

Yep. Rotten eggs float, fresh eggs sink.

This is because eggshells are porous, so over time water vapour and gases leak out, reducing the egg's mass.

A fresh egg will lie on its side on the bottom of a glass of water. The older the egg, the more it sits up, until it's floating.

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Yep. I see even Harold McGee agrees this is good advice. – Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 21 '10 at 3:04

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