Eggs are delicious and already last a month or more in the fridge. Preserving eggs by freezing, drying, or other preservation methods might not be worth it to you.
Yet if you have chickens, or find a sale, or know that your farmers market is closed for the winter and thus you can’t get eggs, you just might want to try preserving eggs for when you can’t get them easily.
If you have access to backyard chicken eggs, you don’t have to refrigerate them. An unwashed egg has a protective coating on it to keep it fresher longer. Store eggs have been washed, and thus need to stay in the fridge.
Unwashed eggs will last at least two weeks on the counter, but should be refrigerated if you plan to keep them longer. Unwashed eggs last a month longer in the fridge compared to washed eggs.
Though Maryland egg laws require that eggs be sold refrigerated, ask your farmer how they care for their eggs. If they are unwashed, they may last 3 months in the fridge. Ask your farmer if they know how long the eggs last for them.
Unwashed eggs have a bloom, or cuticle surrounding the egg. This cuticle seals pores on the shell to keep out dust and bacteria, and helps regulate moisture and gas.
As eggs age, they lose moisture and carbon dioxide through the egg shell. This loss of CO2 means the pH changes in the egg, causing the whites to thin. Older eggs peel easier because of these changes.
In addition, the porosity of the eggshells mean that smells from your fridge can flavor the eggs over time. Older eggs won’t taste as delicious as fresh eggs.
There are many reasons you might be interested in preserving eggs. There are many methods to do so, though many of them change the eggs.
If you are simply interested in storing eggs longer for cooking or baking, then you can look into freezing, drying, or protecting the shells.
Preserving Eggs by Freezing
Freezing eggs is a great way for preserving eggs through a short term lack of eggs. Maybe your chickens don’t lay as much during the winter, or you don’t have easy access to farmers market eggs.
When freezing eggs, you can freeze whites, yolks, or scramble them for later cooking. You could also precook the eggs and then have quick meal options for later.
When freezing raw eggs, scrambled works best. Three tablespoons of scrambled raw eggs equals one regular egg. Frozen works best in baking because texture changes might not work as well as straight up eggs.
Epicurious recommends adding salt, sugar or lemon juice to raw eggs to keep their texture better. When cooking frozen scrambled eggs, thaw first, then cook. Throwing a frozen cube of raw egg onto a hot pan will give you rubbery eggs.
Scrambled eggs, cooked, freeze better than fried eggs or hard boiled ones. You can freeze them as is, or add to breakfast burritos or breakfast sandwiches for quick meal options.
Don’t freeze eggs in the shell! They will expand and probably break their shells.
Preserving Eggs by Drying
Drying eggs is not the best choice. Some say it’s good, many others say it’s awful. You can scramble and then dry them, then grind them to powder. Or you can dry raw eggs, but you risk salmonella.
Backwoods Home says that baking with home dried raw eggs works great, but eating them is another story. Drying raw eggs is not recommended by food safety experts.
It’s easier, safer, and tastier preserving eggs by freezing instead.
Preserving Eggs by Treating the Shells
Old time ways to preserve eggs didn’t involve freezing or refrigeration. Instead, they found ways to treat the porous egg shells so they would last longer.
The porous shells allow moisture and CO2 exchange, even more so if the eggs are washed and the cuticle is removed. Starting with unwashed eggs will help preserve them longer.
Two ways to protect the shell for longer involves oiling them, or storing in water mixed with sodium silicate or lime, called waterglassing.
Oiling your eggs can be done with food safe oils. Mineral oil, butter, or lard can be used. There is not a 100% success rate, but most eggs will last 6-9 months in a cool, dark place or an year in the fridge.
Mineral oil is safe, but you might prefer butter or lard. Cooking fats sound more natural, but they will go rancid over time.
Waterglassing eggs is supposed to be one of the most fool proof ways for preserving eggs. However, it will change the eggs so that they can’t be hard boiled, and the whites won’t whip.
Timber Creek Farm in Crownsville experimented with waterglassing. She reports that six months later, the eggs cooked up just like fresh in the pan.
Waterglassing uses freshly laid eggs, not store eggs. Mix 8 ounces of pickling lime by weight for each quart of water, and place eggs in the solution. A plastic bucket is a great option for storing long term with no refrigeration.
Eggs are a great food, both nutritious and very versatile in the kitchen. They last a long time already, but when you have extras, it’s great to know different ways to preserve your eggs.
Figure out how you plan to use your eggs long term, and store with that in mind. Think about where you want to store eggs, if you have the freezer space or if you need room temperature storage. Do you plan to eat them fresh or use eggs in baking?
Keeping your own chickens (or other poultry) means you’ll have a lot of eggs some times and a lot less eggs at other times. Storing those eggs long term means less trips to the store for you, and less expense!