For thousands of years, people around the world have developed various ways of preserving poultry eggs to extend their longevity. With the advent of refrigeration most folks just pop them in the fridge and use them within a few weeks while they are still fresh. I have a decent year round egg supply and haven’t required the need to preserve eggs, but I’ve been interested in what those who have a surplus do to keep them viable for longer.
I did some online reading and looked at both historical and cross-cultural methods of egg preservation, finding many of them probably wouldn’t meet our current tastes. Most methods involved coating eggs (i.e. with wax, mud, Vaseline, mineral oil, salt, bran or charcoal), immersing (i.e. in tea, salt water) or dehydrating them. Since eggs are porous I’ve rejected the ones that would adversely affect the taste of the eggs themselves.
I’ve whittled the list down to the most popular, or easiest, techniques:
- You can’t freeze eggs in the shell because they will expand and crack.
- Either separate yolks and whites and store separately or gently whisk them together, avoiding air bubbles.
- It’s recommended to add a small amount of sugar or salt to stabilize the yolks.
- Freeze in ice cube trays and then store in plastic containers or zip lock bags.
- Will keep for six months.
- For recipes 3 tbsp. = 1 egg
Farm fresh, unwashed eggs can be stored in sodium silicate mixed with water. The solution fills the pores of the egg and envelops them in ‘glass’.
- Mix one ounce (weight) of sodium silicate in one quart of water.
- Place eggs pointed end down in a large, sterilized glass jar or crock.
- Leave two inches of liquid above the eggs.
- A one gallon jar can hold @ 40 eggs.
- Rinse eggs well before use.
- When boiling eggs pin-prick the shell to allow steam to escape because it is no longer porous.
- The egg shells change consistency so they can’t be hard boiled and the whites, when beaten, don’t stiffen or form peaks.
- Eggs stored at cool temperatures (1c/34f) can last up to 2 years.
- Only use fresh clean eggs.
- Don’t wash your eggs, which removes the bloom.
- Gallon jars with wide mouths are most suitable.
- Try not to move your container. A broken egg can spoil your whole batch.
- Cover container tightly. You can top up any solution that evaporates.
- Date your batch.
- A white crust means the solution was exposed to air and is harmless.
- If you see any mold, throw out the whole batch.
- Crack each egg in a bowl prior to use, just in case one is bad.
- Is a mix of calcium hydroxide (quicklime) and water. Limewater is the common name for a saturated solution of calcium hydroxide.
- Mix 8 ounces lime (weight) in one quart of water.
- Prepare and store in the same way as water glassing (see above).
Pickling and canning are great ways of storing most types of farm produce, including eggs
- Hard boil and peel 12 whole eggs.
- Combine 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp pickling spices and 1 tsp salt in a small saucepan.
- Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Put eggs in ice bath to cool them.
- Place eggs in 1 litre/4 cup wide mouthed jar.
- Pour hot liquid over eggs, tightly cover with lid.
- Allow the flavors to infuse for at least 1-2 weeks before eating.
- Make your own your own pickling spice mixture: 1 tsp (5 mL) peppercorns, 10 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf and 2 dried whole chili peppers.
- Spicy mix: 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and turmeric and 1 star anise to pickling liquid to make spiced, golden-coloured eggs.
- For quick, colourful pickled eggs store them in pickled beet juice.
- Eggs can keep for up to 4 months in the refrigerator.
- If you have small eggs like bantam chickens or quail the flavors infuse better.
Salt cured eggs are a form of a fermented egg and are similar in taste to hard-boiled eggs, especially if you use a simple salted brine. They are a bit fizzy and have a slightly different texture. Preservation is similar to pickling, except no vinegar is involved, which is why the taste is closer to hard-boiled eggs than pickled eggs.
The salt inhibits bad bacteria but allows lactic acid to thrive. It’s the same process used to make a salt-cured ham and the result is full of the same microbes found in yogurt or sauerkraut.
- Sterilize a 1 quart jar by filling it with boiling water and letting it sit for 5 minutes before pouring the water out.
- Fill the jar with 15 hard-boiled, peeled eggs, 1/4 cup whey or cultured starter (sauerkraut juice or previous brine), 1 tbsp sea salt and 1 cup water.
- You can add different flavours: dill, peppercorn, jalapenos, garlic, onions, kimchi brine or sauerkraut brine.
- Fully cover the eggs with more water.
- Allow to ferment on the counter for about 3 days before being placed in the fridge.
- The cooler temperatures in the refrigerator slow the lactic acid bacteria, but the eggs will slowly ferment even under cold temperatures.
- During winter months, or if you prefer a bit more fizz, you can ferment the eggs for an extra day or two before placing in the fridge.
- They don’t last as long as pickled eggs: about 2 weeks.
You can preserve whole eggs or just the yolks using salt.
- Salt-preserved egg yolks are simple to make.
- Separate the white from the yolks.
- Put 1/2″ of kosher or canning salt in the bottom of a pyrex dish. A mixture of half salt and half sugar produces a different flavour.
- Make divots in the salt with the back of your spoon.
- Optional: dip the yolks in rice wine before salting them.
- Place each yolk individually in a divot and then fully cover them in salt.
- Cure for one week in the fridge.
- Remove eggs, brush the salt off and wrap them individually in cheese cloth and allow to air dry for 1 week in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.
- To speed up the curing process you can skip the drying stage above and bake them in your oven at 93c/200f for 2-3 hours instead.
- Cured yolks can be grated over pasta for a little punch.
- They can be stored for 3-4 weeks.
- Don’t waste the egg whites: freeze them or use them in cooking.
- Make a brine out of 5 cups (1.25L) water and 1 cup of sea or kosher salt.
- Bring to a boil and stir until the salt has dissolved.
- Continue boiling until salt crystals start to form on the side of the pot.
- You can experiment and add any of the following: 1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, ginger slice, garlic, 1 tbsp peppercorns or chili peppers.
- Let the brine cool to room temperature.
- Put 12 uncooked eggs in a sterilized, wide-mouth glass jar.
- Slowly pour the salt water and crystals over the eggs until they are fully submerged.
- Weigh them down with a small baggie full of water or put a piece of scrunched up parchment paper at the top of the jar to keep the eggs from floating to the top.
- Seal the container with the lid and store in a cool dark place or the fridge for 30 days.
- Test one and see if they are to your taste; if not, store them for longer.
To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to preserving eggs, but I’d be curious to hear the experiences of those who do. What has worked, or not, for you? If you’ve got some tips I’ll add them to this post.
Credits: Fermenting For Foodies; Get Cracking; Nourished Essentials; Practical Self Reliance; Wiki How.