How to Buy the Freshest Eggs Possible

March 27, 2015

In Overheard, we're sharing all of the best tidbits we couldn't help picking up on -- from smart tips on the Hotline to funny quotes heard around the water cooler and more -- so we can all be in the know.

Earlier this week, Posie Harwood told us all about the best egg sandwich she knows—and clued us in on how to buy the freshest eggs available: 

The fresher the egg, the better the flavor. Because the sell-by date for eggs in a supermarket (with U.S.D.A. inspection) can be up to 45 days after the packing date, Eastman has a quick and easy way to check for freshness: the Julian date. Every egg carton has a code printed on its side, and the last 3 digits of this code are called the Julian date. The code uses a number from 001 to 365 to correspond to a day of the year and indicate when they were packaged. For example, 001 is January 1st and 365 is December 31st.

Thus, to find the freshest eggs, you'll generally want to select the highest number you can find—with one caveat. As Food52er Andy Peters notes, choosing the highest number you can find only works after day 45 of the year (assuming the 45-day limit holds true), so bear that in mind early in the year. For example, in mid-January, you'd want to buy eggs with a lower number of 005 rather than ones with a higher number like 362.

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Tell us: What's your best supermarket shopping tip? 

Photo by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Laura Haggarty
    Laura Haggarty
  • Susan
  • Mei Chin
    Mei Chin
Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Laura H. March 6, 2016
Find a farmer near you and buy from them! We appreciate the business.
Susan March 28, 2015
Alternatively, buy the hen.
Mei C. March 30, 2015