Thursday, December 2, 2010

Last One Is A Rotten Egg

Real life puzzle today. You buy a dozen eggs, you use them to cook. Noticing that just a few are left, you buy a dozen more. You fill up all the empty egg spots in your refrigerator, then refill and buy more as necessary. How do you make sure that your egg queue is not violated and that those purchased first are being used before those purchased last? That no eggs stays for too long. That the last egg you pick from the corner of your refrigerator's egg tray in not the rotten one.

Ideas accepted all day long on Friday, on our Family Puzzle Marathon. They will be hidden until Saturday morning (EST) and everyone who shares egg wisdom will get a puzzle point.


Wang said...

My method would be to always pick up my eggs for cooking on one side (say the right) and then when I refill the eggs in the refrigerator, I pack them on the left so that I always use the oldest eggs first.

kj said...

There are two approaches I take to this, neither mathematical.

First, I leave the eggs in the carton, as that has an expiration date on it. I put the oldest egg carton on top, with the date facing out.

Second, I was taught there is a way to test how fresh an uncooked egg is. Fill a sauce pan with cold water, and set the egg in. If it floats, it is bad, if it is on its side on the bottom of the pan, it is fresh, if it is standing up, then it is starting to go bad, and should be used promptly. (I only test eggs that I know are getting old, and I've only ever had an egg stand on end in the pan. Perhaps I should test eggs that I believe to be fresh to see what they actually do -- I know people believe that eggs from the supermarket are not that fresh, and if you want fresh eggs, either have backyard chickens, or go to a local poultry farm.)

Other ideas to consider:

1) You could alternate your purchases between white and brown eggs. If there are fewer white eggs in the egg bin, then conclude those are the older eggs, and use them first. (of course, this approach doesn't work if you decide you need the freshest possible eggs for a recipe -- like the chocolate silk pie I like that contains raw egg, or the pumpkin chiffon pie I made for Thanksgiving that has beaten egg whites (raw) in it.)

2) Before you restock your egg bin, move the older eggs to the front row, starting on the right. Then fill in with the new eggs, and use the eggs up by starting in the front right corner where the oldest eggs are, continuing on that row to the left, then continue to the second row, on the right, etc. You could even leave an empty space between the last old egg and the first new egg. You may want to tear off the date panel from the carton and put it in the bin with the appropriate eggs (but I can envision that getting mixed up easily).

Tom said...

Pretty easy FIFO problem (First In First Out).
I don't use our egg thingy in the door; the carton lives in the fridge. But if I did:
1) Don't refill the door until it is empty, then refill the entire lot at once (and leave remainders in the egg carton until next time).
2) When you do refill, move all the older eggs to one side, like the right, and put the fresher eggs in on the left. And therefore always take eggs for cooking from the right.
3)Buy alternating dozens, brown then white then brown, etc. Should be able to keep them straight.

Or I suppose one could write dates on compulsive is that?

Anonymous said...

Always take eggs from the same side, and before adding new eggs, move the remaining ones to the side that you take from.

Cayce Hotard via Facebook

Anonymous said...

One should use the FIFO algorithm...
In the picture above, always use eggs from the front row until it is empty, the immediately move the back row to the front. All new eggs purchased are allowed to go ONLY in the back row. Right ...or left has no factor because we move an entire row of eggs at once, and replace an entire row as well.

Mike Leach via Facebook

Donna said...

This would be sort of a pain to have to do this all the time, but I don't really see a way around it. I would put the eggs from the first carton in the front row, starting in the right hand corner, and work my way around like a big U to the back right hand corner. Then I would always use that front right egg first, and move all the eggs up in the queue, filling in the new ones in the back row. It would be a rather involved process though. Unless you can write on egg shells without the ink seeping through the shell.....then you could number them and just always use the lowest numbered egg first. This all sounds too complicated to me....think I'll just stick to buying a new dozen when I have 1 or 2 eggs left in the old dozen.

Heidi B said...

Two solutions come to mind:

1) Mark the old eggs with a marking pen before adding more eggs to the tray, leaving the current eggs unmarked. Subsequently, when the new eggs become old eggs, mark them.

2) Always take the eggs from the same side of the tray. When adding eggs, move the remaining eggs to that side so they are used first.

Anonymous said...

Normaly I buy a few dozens at a time so it is much easier to keep the queue with 4-5 boxes (than with 16 eggs).
Anyway, in your case a pencil mark on the old eggs before you add the new ones will do it. the rule is: use the marked eggs first.


Unknown said...

Rotate your stock such as stores do. Put the oldest eggs in the front of the rack. Place the newer eggs behind. Use the entire front row before you move eggs forward and put your newest purchases behind them. Repeat each time you replace eggs.

Maria said...

Wow, so many ingenious egg handling advices. My intention was to just make us all think about this routine household task, but we got a truly useful suggestions.

First of all, everyone who submitted an idea - Wang. kj, Tom, Cayce, Mike L., Donna, Heidi B., Naama, Pat - get a puzzle point.

Second, I would like to summarize what I learned from you all:

1)a few people suggested alternating between buying brown and white eggs - simple and wise; I am starting to do this.

2)kj offered tips on verifying whether eggs have gone bad - very useful

3)a few thought that marking eggs in pencil with numbers may be an option; this is probably a good solution for large school-size kitchens where many people may handle the eggs

4)refilling eggs on one side and taking eggs from another, shifting positions as you use eggs (right-left and back-front) was the most common advice - simple but requires a good discipline

I wish there would be a bowling-style egg shifting machine that will pop out the oldest egg and then shift all the rest leaving the newest spot free. Regrigerator makers - take notes!

5)I was shocked to discover that many of you do not use refrigerator egg space at all and instead leave eggs in their cartoons. Cartoons have expiration date on them and all you do is to put new cartoons under the old ones. This is probably the simplest and less time-consuming solution. What about the regrigerator egg tray? - I asked my friend. She told me that she took it out and stores yougurts there.

Thank you all for the great suggestions!

Maria said...

Donna, kj and Pat - you each have solved 5 puzzles and deserve a prize!
Please email me your addresses to (maria at marialando dot com). I promise to keep it confidential.

Donna said...

Maria, I really don't need a prize.....I do these simply because I love puzzles, especially math puzzles. You have given me something to look forward to on Fridays (nerdy as that may sound), and for that I owe you!

Maria said...

Thank you for these nice words, Donna. I hope to never disappoint you with the puzzles.

As for eggs, here is another advice I just found in the Mom magazine: The egg try in the refregirator door is not cold enough to make eggs last the longest. Store then in the carton in the coldest part of the fridge for 3 to 5 weeks.

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