Egg Preservation

March 5, 2024

In this video, we will walk you through five ways to preserve farm-fresh eggs for up to a year without refrigeration. I will launch right into the five methods, but you’ll want to stick around to the end to understand why knowing how to do this is so important. Let’s get cracking.

WARNING: Avoid using store-bought eggs for the processes described in the video. Use farm-fresh eggs with intact bloom, resembling dried slime or tea stains. The bloom allows for breathability while guarding against bacteria. Store-bought eggs have their bloom removed and are chemically sanitized before sale, leading to a shorter shelf life of 2 to 3 weeks even when refrigerated. 

Mineral Oil Preservation – 9-12 months

Mineral Oil preservation is by far the easiest method. For mineral oil preservation, use food-grade white mineral oil or light mineral oil from the drug store, which is safe for consumption. 

Washing the eggs: Washing the eggs removes most of the bloom, but your process is gentler than commercial operations that seek to sanitize the egg thoroughly. The preservation methods described here work with the bloom residue. There are different suggested methods for washing the eggs. The key is not to overwash them or soak them. I simply use the spray setting on my kitchen sink with warmish to hot water and then wipe them with a clean paper towel. This is the same wash technique I suggest for all the methods described in this video. Let air dry completely by setting them on a clean dish towel. 

Just a tablespoon of the mineral oil is probably enough to coat and cover a dozen eggs. Put that amount in your hands and thoroughly rub it around each egg. The oil will have been completely absorbed into the eggshell in a week or so, but this will make them, initially, pretty slick.

Place the eggs, pointy end down, in clean egg cartons. The broader part of the egg you want at the top has the air chamber. If you store it with that broader base on the bottom, the yolk may work to the top and touch the shell, encouraging it to spoil. I like to use wax or parchment paper around each and store them in a jar with the pointed side down. This allows me also to write the date I put it away on the paper. The jar gives an added layer of protection from critters or eggshells cracking. Store eggs in a cool, dark place with 75% humidity for 9-12 months of long-term storage. 

Why this works: The shell of an egg serves as a protective barrier against bacteria and other pathogens while still allowing for the exchange of gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is essential for the developing chick’s respiration. White or light mineral oil forms a protective coating on the eggshell, sealing pores, preventing moisture loss, inhibiting bacterial growth, and extending shelf life. 

Wax Preservation – 9-12 months

This method is also easy, but I think it gives you a better seal around your eggs and doesn’t absorb into the egg like the oil may. To preserve eggs using wax, utilize either food-grade paraffin wax or organic beeswax. Begin by melting either beeswax or household paraffin wax until it becomes liquid. You want to make sure your wax is all-natural or FDA-approved, so you know you’re not putting potentially harmful chemicals on the shell, which could be absorbed into the egg. While the wax is melting, clean the eggs as directed earlier and allow them to dry completely.

Once the wax is melted, carefully dip each egg into the wax, ensuring an even coating on all sides. Allow the wax to cool and harden around the egg, forming a protective layer.

After the wax has solidified, store the eggs in a cool, dark place with consistent temperature and humidity levels. It is recommended to place the wax-coated eggs in fiber egg cartons, pointy end down, to prevent rolling and potential damage to the wax coating. 

Why this works: The wax acts as a barrier, sealing the pores of the eggshell and preventing moisture loss and bacterial contamination. Unlike the oil, it will not absorb into the shell. This protective layer extends the shelf life of the eggs for approximately 9 to 12 months under proper storage conditions. 

Isinglass Preservation – 9-12 months

During World War I, this technique began to be used. Often, the solution of Isinglass was thicker and goopy, and the eggs were stored directly in it instead of just coating the eggs as I will do here. Their method resulted in some off-tastes in the egg so this method may have fallen out of fashion.

Prepare the isinglass solution: Isinglass is a gelatin obtained from fish bladder membranes and commonly used in food preservation. Dissolve isinglass powder or sheets in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring that it is food-grade and safe for consumption. Here, I will use a premixed solution commonly used for brewing.

Wash the eggs using the method detailed earlier. Allow them to air dry thoroughly. Dip each egg into the prepared solution, ensuring the entire surface is evenly coated. Alternatively, you can use a brush to apply the isinglass solution to the eggs. This is my preferred method, as it guarantees an even coating. 

After coating, allow the eggs to air dry completely. Once dry, place the eggs in clean egg cartons with the pointed end down or use the jar method previously described. Store the eggs in a cool, dark place with a humidity level of around 75%. 

Why this works: The isinglass solution forms a protective coating on the eggshell, sealing pores and inhibiting bacterial growth. It’s essentially adding a more thorough bloom. This helps to extend the shelf life of the eggs by preventing moisture loss and preserving their freshness. 

Wood Ash Preservation – 9-12 months

Colonists and early settlers often used wood ash to preserve eggs. This technique, known as “water-glassing with wood ash,” involves coating eggs with a paste of wood ash to create a protective barrier on the eggshell.

Prepare the wood ash solution: Collect wood ash from hardwood sources such as oak or maple. Ensure the wood ash is free from contaminants like charcoal or unburnt wood. Mix the wood ash with water to create a paste-like consistency. I use a standard wire mesh for the kitchen to sift out any particles.

Clean the eggs as described earlier. Coat eggs with wood ash paste by dipping each egg into the prepared wood ash paste, ensuring the entire surface is evenly coated. Alternatively, you can use a brush to apply the wood ash paste to the eggs.

After coating, allow the eggs to air dry completely. Once dry, place the eggs in clean egg cartons with the pointed end down or use the jar method previously described. Store the eggs in a cool, dark place with a humidity level of around 75%. Regularly check the storage area to maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Inspect the eggs for any signs of spoilage and discard any eggs that appear compromised.

Like the other methods, wood ash paste preserves eggs by coating and sealing the shell, preventing air and bacteria from entering. The high pH and low moisture of wood ash also discourage spoilage.

Pickling Lime Preservation – 12-18 months

Prepare the pickling lime solution: Use non-chlorinated water or leave your water out on the counter for 24 hours to allow any chlorine to gas off. In a non-metallic container, mix pickling lime (calcium hydroxide) with water according to the recommended ratio provided by the manufacturer. If no ratio is provided, use 1 ounce per quart of water. Ensure that the pickling lime is food-grade and safe for consumption.

Wash the eggs as previously described. Next, carefully submerge the eggs in the pickling lime solution, ensuring they are fully covered. Putting the eggs in the mixed solution instead of just pouring it on top is essential because you want to ensure that even the spots the eggs touch have been in contact with the lime solution. Ensure the container is covered to prevent evaporation and contamination.

Store the eggs in a cool, dark place. The lime will fall out of suspension, clearing the water and leaving a lime powder residue over the tops of the eggs. This is fine..

Why this works: The pickling lime solution creates a protective barrier on the eggshell, sealing pores and inhibiting bacterial growth. This helps to extend the shelf life of the eggs by preventing moisture loss and preserving their freshness. 

Why Preserve Eggs?

You might have never thought of needing to preserve eggs, given the modern convenience of agricultural egg operations, supply chains, and modern refrigeration, but here’s why knowing how to preserve eggs is valuable information to have. The modern, fragile supply chain is susceptible to failure, and eggs are not always available throughout the year, so our ancestors needed to find ways to preserve them. Egg production depends on the length and temperature of the day, which affect the hens’ ovulation cycle. That’s why hens lay more eggs in spring when the days are long and warm and less in winter when the days are short and cold.

To avoid running out of eggs or buying them too often, especially in winter, preserving some eggs when they are plentiful makes sense. If you are considering or have a small backyard egg-laying flock of your own, you’ll want to check out our video on that, which I will link to, and you’ll definitely want to know these five methods to preserve eggs without refrigeration. They all extend the shelf-life of eggs. With some of these methods, you might even be able to keep eggs for over 12 months.

As always, stay safe out there.

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