How to preserve eggs when looking for long-term storage is easy. In fact, for those who raise poultry it is a necessity. The most commonly asked question for those new to poultry keeping, do eggs need to be refrigerated, will also be addressed in this article. The most common practices used to preserve eggs are freezing and dehydrating. However, it is also necessary to discuss the following two techniques, water glassing eggs and freeze drying.
As a poultry keeper and homesteader it is necessary to prepare for the time when egg production decreases and even stops. This is the natural phase for keeping poultry and one we must all prepare for. The alternative to preserving eggs? Purchasing them from the market, which I do not do, regardless of how desperate I am for eggs.
The lack of daylight and molting season is tough on those who raise poultry. It is during this time which egg production drastically decreases or comes to a complete halt. It is, in fact, the most frustrating part about raising poultry. You’ll come to address your flock as free loafing feathered dinosaurs who will eat you out of house and home. Well, maybe I am the only one who addresses them as such.
Because of this I’ve learned how to store farm fresh eggs long-term. Some methods are easier than others and more commonly practiced. However, those who seek to live a sustainable life will give the last two preserving tools and methods a try. Regardless of how you preserve eggs, it is necessary to store them if you are raising poultry.
Do not get caught wishing you had stored away eggs when they were plentiful. Get started in preserving eggs now, the days will be getting shorter and your birds begin molting before you know it.
How to Preserve Eggs for Long-term Storage
The primary reason for raising poultry is the ability to consume farm fresh eggs. Eggs which were laid by humanely raised chickens, chickens who are allowed to live their best lives.
It is hard to imagine that during the peak egg laying season, March through early September, we take for granted having fresh eggs on hand. It is the arrival of molting season and the decline of daylight hours which quickly reminds us that fresh eggs need to be preserved, and quickly.
The easiest way to squirrel away eggs is to reserve 1/4 of the weekly egg production. This amount may shock many, but in truth it really is not that much to set aside, considering your flock can very well go 7 months without laying an egg. Because of this it is best to preserve eggs for baking, cooking, or directly from the shell to make homemade egg noodles or eggs for breakfast.
Learn about freezing fresh eggs, dehydrating, freeze drying and water glassing eggs, then choose the best method for you and your property.
Storing Farm Fresh Eggs
Before we jump to preserving eggs let’s talk quickly about how to store freshly laid eggs. The most commonly asked question from new chicken keepers is, do eggs need to be refrigerated?
This is a very legitimate question considering eggs purchased from the supermarket are refrigerated. In truth, eggs from the market must be refrigerated, if not they run the risk of becoming rotten quite quickly.
Eggs are laid with a protective covering called the bloom or cuticle. This covering seals the pores of the shell, preventing bacteria from entering the egg. The bloom will remain on the egg until it is washed off. It is the bloom which allows eggs to be stored at room temperature and not require refrigeration.
The second most commonly asked question comes in 2 folds:
- How long will unwashed eggs keep on the counter?
- How long will unwashed eggs keep in the refrigerator?
For best practices it is best to package eggs for refrigeration after one week of being on the counter. On our homestead eggs are packaged every Sunday for the refrigerator. With that said, we have left eggs in the egg basket for up to a month before packaging them to be placed in the fridge. Keep in mind, eggs are freshest up to two weeks.
Clean, unwashed eggs can last up to 6 months in the refrigerator. However, they will not be in their prime and often runny in texture.
Freezing Fresh Eggs
Freezing fresh eggs is the easiest method for preserving them. What is needed is a large silicone ice-cube tray and a freezer safe container for storing the frozen eggs. Freezer safe ziploc bags are often used, however, I prefer vacuum sealing them in small bags. This prevents any issue of freezer burn from occurring.
- Large silicone ice-cube trays
- Hand whisk or immersion stick blender
Because most recipes call for the use of two eggs I place two eggs into each section of the silicon tray.
- Using a hand whisk, scramble two eggs at a time. Add the lightly scrambled eggs to the tray. Continue this pattern until the tray is full.
- Cover the tray with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or parchment paper, allowing the eggs to completely freeze.
- Remove eggs from the silicon tray and package for storing.
Freezing fresh eggs does not require the eggs to be reconstituted. Simply place the frozen eggs into a ziploc bag and place into the refrigerator or bowl of room temperature water to thaw.
Dehydrating eggs to create a powder is quite easy to achieve, however, you will need a dehydrator for this method. Egg powder is used for making scrambled eggs, omelets, and baked goods.
Dehydrator (a rear mounting fan is the most efficient dehydrator available)
- Using a hand whisk, whisk eggs well until the yolk and whites are thoroughly blended.
- Line the dehydrator trays with parchment paper or fruit leather sheets (order from the company which the dehydrator was purchased).
- Slowly add scrambled eggs to the drying trays, set the temperature to the appropriate drying time mentioned in the dehydrator’s manual. Based on the placement of the fan, eggs will take between 12 to 18 hours to dry.
- Once completely dried, place the eggs into a blender, food processor, or NutriBullet and grind to a powder. Store powder eggs in a glass mason jar with an oxygen absorber. Vacuum seal the jars to preserve the freshness.
- To reconstitute the powder eggs add 2 tablespoons of powdered eggs to 6 tablespoons of water. The powder eggs do not need to be reconstituted, simply add the dried eggs and water directly to the mixing bowl along with the other ingredients.
Water Glassing Eggs
Water glassing eggs is the most traditional means for preserving eggs. Documentation of water glassing dates back to the 1800’s with a recipe found in Fannie Farmer’s cookbook titled, Fannie Farmer Boston Cookbook School. It has been reported that eggs which are preserved using the water glassing technique will keep for up to 18 months without rotting. However, the longer the eggs sit the runnier the whites and yolk becomes.
It is best to use water which is free of chlorine, fluoride, and not high in minerals. Distilled water or natural spring water are the best options for water glassing eggs. If your city does add fluoride to the water, boil the water and allow it to cool completely before using it.
Equipment and Ingredients
- 3-gallon food-grade bucket
- 5-ounce hydrated lime, pickling lime
- 5-quarts distilled water, natural spring water
- fresh eggs, clean and unwashed (must not have waste or excessive amounts of mud or dirt)
- In a 3-gallon bucket add an equal ratio of water to lime. 5-quarts water to 5-ounces of lime provides enough room for the eggs to be submerged. The 1-quart of water to 1-ounce of lime is the ratio which is to be used regardless of the container size.
- Mix the pickling lime and water until completely dissolved.
- Next, gently add unwashed fresh eggs to the liquid. When able add the eggs pointy side down allowing the air sack to remain at the top of the eggs.
- Securely add the lid to the bucket to prevent the liquid from evaporating and the eggs from becoming exposed to air. Store the water glass eggs in a cool dark location, withdrawing eggs as needed and wash well prior to using.
- Pulling eggs from the bottom of the bucket first allows you to use the oldest eggs first. However, pulling a small amount which will be used within a few days saves from having to withdraw an egg each time one is needed. Make sure to store these eggs in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Freeze Drying Eggs
Investing in a freeze dryer is a big expenditure, but a great investment to those who seek to live a more sustainable life. Foods preserved with the use of a freeze dryer maintains 97% of the food’s nutrients while maintaining the flavor and color. Food preserved with a home freeze dryer allows for long-term storage between 10 to 25 years.
This allows those who live, or seek to live, a sustainable life to prepare for unforeseen circumstances such as a natural disaster, unemployment, pandemic, and even when your flock is on sabbatical from laying.
Ann Accetta-Scott homesteads on two acres in Washington state, raising poultry, goats, and rabbits. She is an educator and encourage of all who are seeking to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Ann is also the face behind the website A Farm Girl in the Making and author of The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest. View all articles by Ann Accetta-Scott.
The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest
My Book, The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest, touches heavily on the various methods of preserving eggs, the garden’s bounty, and how to properly store meat long-term. The guide is a great tool for learning how to preserve foods as a homesteader would in a modern time.
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Photos courtesy of Ann Accetta-Scott and Teddi Yaeger.