We've all been brought up to carefully respect the 'sell by' date on everything we buy. And most of us have been conditioned to view eggs as too fragile and scarey of a food to even consider pushing the limit. But the important thing here to note is the difference between, 'Sell by' and 'Use by'. Most eggs are marked with a sell by date, not a 'use by' date. It is fairly widely accepted to say that a carton of eggs will last 3 to 4 weeks beyond the sell by date... if properly stored. What is properly stored? Simply stated, if you keep them at a consistent temperature- and best- on the colder side of the average refrigerator setting (33 to 40 degrees) you will get the best results. Many farmers though will tell you they last even longer. So just because it has a date on the end of the carton that says Aug 1st, DO NOT TOSS on Aug 2nd. In fact, the 3 to 4 week estimate is simply a 'safe guideline'. Eggs can last an average of 6 months under best case scenario refrigration and up to a week just sitting on the counter.
I'll pause while my readers collectively gasp.
Yes, six months on average. The important thing to know here is how to read a 'Julian Date'. A Julian date is the number of day of the year the item was packaged. January 1st would be stamped as '1' and Dec. 31st as 356. So the six month time line would be from the Julian Date. And here is an interesting tidbit purely from my own memory of past research. * Please note- a quick internet search to find a citable source to back up what I remember reading in years past, could not be found. But I know I read it and I suspect the lack of similar info today is the result of Health Department Standards, legalities and an effort to sell more eggs. (If it were widely known how long eggs actually last, they wouldn't sell very many eggs now would they?) So for the record I can not recommend that you eat that Easter egg that you purposely didn't boil as a joke and was lost and forgotten, that you just found in the Philodendron planter when you were watering it finally this morning. I'm just saying, to my knowledge and beleif...eggs don't actually 'go bad'. Their shells are porous and so not only do they loose water content, they also absorb refrigerator odors. The way we get a 'rotten egg' is when we find one that is old enough to have lost it's water content and has since become concentrated. I imagine it tastes kind of nasty, though. A.K.A 'rotten'. Also, properly cooking an egg with Salmonella does kill the bacteria and you will be left with a beneficial, protein rich meal, so long as hands were washed and eggs are well cooked.
Personally, I keep my eggs for about 3 months after the sell by date, and would only leave my eggs on the counter for up to a day or two as long as I planned on using them soon and certainly by the sell by date. I'm cheap, but I do have my own comfort levels. Because like most everyone else, caution with eggs is ingrained in my very core. But the point here is that overall, it's ok to relax if even just a little bit. Your eggs will not turn into poisonous green orbs on August 2nd and if you forget to put the groceries away for a few hours- or a day, there is no need to panic. And if your eggs are about to date beyond your comfort level, hardboil them and you will have them for another week.
Then quickly learn how to make Devilled Eggs! (They aren't just for Easter, you know.)