My family loves fresh eggs during the winter, and I’ve learned how to preserve our farm-fresh eggs to last for many months. During our first winter at our off-grid homestead, eggs were scarce, and we had to buy from the store. If you raise chickens, you know how different the taste of store-bought eggs is, and you’re probably not as fond of eating them. The next year I learned to plan ahead, and I’ve looked for ways to preserve eggs for the winter.
Freezing eggs is a common method, but you need to have electricity for it to work. I don’t run the freezer unless we have to. We managed to adapt our lifestyle without the extensive use of such appliance, and it helps us save money. I had to figure out other ways to preserve eggs, and I must tell you, not everything I read online worked. After many failed attempts, I asked my neighbors for help.
They suggested four methods to keep eggs for up to eight months, the last one being the most surprising one. I’ve learned how to make them work, and now we keep our eggs ready for the long winters. You too can preserve eggs long-term without worrying about your family getting sick. If you live off the grid or if you’re short on refrigerator space, I recommend giving this a try. These methods are easy to follow and won’t affect your monthly budget.
Egg Preservation Techniques:
How to preserve eggs using mineral oil
You can prevent eggs from going bad through oiling, but you must make sure the eggs are not washed with water before trying this. To properly oil your eggs, they must be kept at room temperature (50 to 70 degrees F), and they must be dry. You should use a pair of plastic gloves and keep a clean working area to avoid contaminating your eggs with bacteria.
Heat a quarter cup of mineral oil for 10 seconds in the microwave. Set your eggs aside on a plate so you can pick them easily and dab a little bit of mineral oil on your hands. Pick up an egg and run your hands all over it so that every part is covered with mineral oil. Once you are done, put it in an egg carton and store it in a cool, dry place.
You can also use cooking oil or fat to preserve eggs, although I’ve noticed that using mineral oil works better. However, if you don’t have any, just use cooking oil and follow these steps.
Make sure your oil is free of bacteria and mold by heating it 180°F for about 20 minutes. Once the oil has cooled, pour it into a dish and put the eggs in the dish. Do not use your bare hands and use plastic gloves, a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to maneuver the eggs.
Suggested reading: How To Live Without Refrigeration
You can even use a cooking brush to make sure your eggs are properly oiled. Once you are done oiling the eggs, set them aside on a rack such as the ones used in candy making and let them drain for about 30 minutes
A quarter cup of oil should be enough for 4 to 6 dozen eggs, depending on the size of the eggs. You can buy it online or from the pharmacy section of every store. I also recommend flipping the eggs upside down once a month to maintain the integrity of the egg yolk. Flip the egg carton or storage container gently to avoid cracking the shell of your eggs. If you noticed a cracked egg, remove it immediately from the container, or it will contaminate all eggs.
How to preserve eggs using water glass
Water glass is also known as sodium silicate which is basically a mix of potash and silica. My neighbors highly recommended this method, and it works great. I’ve learned the hard way that you should use eggs that are less than 24 hours old. For this method to work, you will need glass jars (1 gallon each), 1-quart jar of water glass and cooled boiled water.
How to do it:
- Collect only the eggs that are less than 24 hours old and do not wash them.
- Place the eggs in glass jars.
- Mix one part water glass with nine parts of cooled, boiled water. For the 1-gallon jar, you should use over a half gallon of this mixture, depending on how big the eggs are.
- Pour the mixture over the eggs until they are covered by 2 inches.
- Now add more clean eggs and keep pouring water glass as needed to keep the liquid 2 inches above the eggs.
- When there’s no more room in the jar, put the lid one and store it in a cool, dark place. You should turn the jar once or twice weekly
Make sure you handle the eggs properly when removing them from the jar as they are very slippery. I’ve also learned the hard way that you should pinprick the eggs before boiling them. This action will prevent them from exploding.
This method didn’t have satisfactory results on store-bought eggs. Be careful when trying to preserve eggs you buy from unknown sources.
How to preserve eggs using salt
This is a method I’ve learned from my grandmother, and it’s actually something the pioneers used to do. Since they didn’t have mineral oil, they often used butter or lard to oil their eggs and kept them over winter. This method helped them keep the eggs good for months and prevent the hatching. Even more, they discovered that salt is a good sealant can keep their eggs fresh for up to a year.
To try this method, you will need a keg or large ceramic pot. Start by covering the bottom of your recipient with half an inch of salt and place your eggs close together on the small end. The eggs should not touch one another so make sure you set them carefully.
Now sprinkle salt over the eggs gently until you cover them entirely. Make sure you have a 1-inch layer of salt covering the eggs before placing more in the container. Repeat the process until the keg or pot is full and then cover it tight.
Place the container in a cool, dark place where it will not freeze. Your eggs should keep fresh for eight months or longer.
The pioneers also used to replace salt with wood ash since it was available everywhere and wasn’t expensive compared to salt. I haven’t tried this method since many people told me the eggs would change their taste (ashy like).
How to preserve eggs using a solution of lime
In cookbooks from the 18th century, you will discover an eggs preservation method which nowadays is not as popular as the first three, but has a 100 percent success rate. They used to preserve eggs in a solution of slaked lime with great results, and you can try this method as well. I find this a good way of reconnecting with the past and keeping the old homesteading skills alive.
All you need is slaked lime (you need to go to a building supply store to get it), water and a keg or ceramic vessel. Ask for hydrated lime at the store, just to make sure you don’t get anything else.
How to do it:
Get a watertight vessel (a glass jar will work fine) and sprinkle a few ounces of lime on the bottom of the vessel.
Fill up the glass jar with eggs before pouring anything in.
Make a lime solution by mixing 1 quart of tap water with 1 ounce (about three tablespoons) hydrated lime.
Pour the solution over the tap of your eggs and make sure your eggs are fully covered. You will also need to prevent the solution from evaporating. You can close the jar using the lid, or you can add a layer of oil if you’re using a keg or a bigger vessel. That’s how they use to do it back then.
Store the vessel in a dark place, and you should be able to keep your eggs for up to two years.
If you can have fresh eggs in your house day in and day out, because you have your own farm or because you have a friendly neighbor that provides you with these items in exchange for some of your supplies, you are one of the lucky ones. Regardless how you procure your fresh eggs, you should not rely only on your fridge to keep eggs fresh. Learning how to preserve eggs using the methods listed in this article should provide you with a good supply of eggs when times are tough and stores are closed.