How to Preserve Surplus Eggs

Save your chickens’ bounty with these easy, dependable strategies to preserve eggs for later eating, whether raw or cooked.

| March/April 2019

 egg-bounty
Photo by Getty Images/angelsimon.

When my family started our first tiny flock of laying hens several years ago, I quickly learned the meaning of “feast or famine.” Within months, we were eating golden, delicious eggs until we couldn’t stomach the sight of another omelet or quiche. In desperation, I began to search for, read about, and experiment with anything egg-related. And just when I was getting somewhere, fall arrived. Suddenly, we had no more eggs. Not one! I wasn’t sure if I should be delighted over empty nests or crestfallen over the lack of egg bread. I did know, however, that I had to find a way to balance this crazy egg-laying schedule. Fortunately, I’ve since learned several preservation methods that create a semblance of balance in our ladies’ egg-production cycle. Now, I have just the right amount of eggs year-round.

Keep It Cool

Refrigeration is the simplest and most effective method of preserving eggs. Fresh, unwashed eggs placed immediately in a refrigerator will keep for about eight months and will make the best fried or boiled eggs, whipped whites, custards, and other dishes that are dependent on the egg’s texture and volume-producing ability. The key is to select freshly laid, unsoiled eggs to retain the “bloom.” This protective film coats the shell and keeps bacteria out of the delicate egg while slowing moisture loss to keep the egg fresh longer; if you wash a soiled egg, you’ll remove the bloom in the process.

I’ve also found that eggs laid during cooler months tend to store longest. Eggs laid in the heat of summer and left in the nest during the hottest part of the day often become runny or even rancid significantly faster than those laid under cooler conditions. If, however, your flock is small and you’re not able to collect enough eggs for winter storage before the heat sets in, that’s OK. Just collect eggs for long-term refrigeration several times daily when possible, to shorten the time they’re exposed to the heat, and immediately consume those you collected hours after they were laid.



frozen-chicken-eggs
You can freeze whole eggs in greased muffin tins, or you can separate or blend the eggs before you freeze portions in ice cube trays. Photo by Kristi Cook.

Generally speaking, the only differences between a day-old egg and one that’s been chilling for about eight months are the thickness of the whites and the plumpness of the yolks. As an egg ages, its white naturally becomes thinner and runnier, while its yolk softens and will break more easily. This usually poses no trouble in recipes, other than a slightly wider base for fried eggs. And while it’s true that the freshest egg whites produce the best meringues, I’ve successfully made potluck-worthy meringue pies with 8-month-old eggs. They just needed a bit more whipping and a little extra cream of tartar. No one was any the wiser.






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