If you are wandering about your property and happen across some eggs a sneaky hen has laid in a surprise location, your first instinct may be to rush them inside and put them in the fridge. While saving such eggs is a noble cause, you have to ask yourself what the likelihood is that those eggs are still safe for consumption. Sure, they may have only been there since this morning, (or yesterday morning, or twenty mornings ago) but how are you to know? The hen may know but it is doubtful she will share that highly valuable information with you.
When it comes to unfertilized yard eggs or found eggs that are laid outside of the coop, it truly is impossible to know for sure the age of those eggs. Because of this, their safety may be in question which means eating them can be quite risky for your digestive system. If you've never had salmonella poisoning, I assure you that you want to keep that trend going for the rest of your life as having it is no picnic. With that in mind, any time you doubt the age of an egg, the best thing to do is simply throw it out. However, if you are determined to know if an egg might be fresh or not, there is one way to guesstimate its age, which is by conducting a float test.
Armed with a glass of water and some questionable eggs, you can conduct a little experiment to figure out approximately how long those eggs have been in existence. All you have to do is place the egg into the glass of water and wait for the magic to happen. Eggs that lay flat at the bottom are recently laid, as in within the past 24 hours. If an egg has a slight lift, it is one day to one week old. If an egg rests in an oblong manner on either of its polar ends, it is two or three weeks old. Eggs that float completely at the top of the water are four weeks or more.
Now that you've determined the age of your egg, it might be tempting to get an omelet going, but we're not done discussing this quite yet. Just because the float test will give you an age approximation does not mean that the egg is still safe to eat. The only way to ensure egg safety is through proper handling, which means keeping coops and nesting areas clean, collecting eggs in a prompt manner, storing them carefully, and cooking them thoroughly. In truth, a fresh egg laid in dirty conditions can be more toxic to you than an old egg found in a clean place. While the likelihood of an old egg going bad is certainly there, it is impossible to know for sure anything beyond the possible age of that egg. Thus, if you have any doubts about the age or safety of an egg, do not put in in the fridge or frying pan but instead throw it out.