Try these quick and easy methods to preserve fresh eggs from your backyard chickens for use year-round…
Fresh eggs from your own backyard chickens are not only delicious but also one of Nature’s most perfect food sources! However, if you raise your own chickens, you’ve probably noticed that their egg-laying is more seasonal than your appetite for eggs. Especially in more northern climates, most chicken breeds will lay fewer eggs during the winter, and sometimes even stop laying completely over the winter months. If you don’t want to resort to buying eggs from the store over the winter, you may wish to consider preserving some of your fresh eggs during the abundant laying season, so that you can enjoy them during the leaner months.
Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to preserve fresh eggs for long-term use, depending on your needs and the resources available to you.
Below are three simple suggestions to try, but you can also find many other ideas and tips online with a bit of searching.
Method #1: Refrigeration
One thing we quickly learned was that eggs can be stored for up to 2 to 3 months at temperatures below 55°F without doing anything to them. This was great news, but we found that we had to carefully monitor the humidity. We discovered that it consistently needed to be close to 75%. If humidity levels were too low, the eggs dried out; if too high, the eggs sometimes got moldy. Also it was important to use only clean, uncracked eggs. If the egg needed cleaning, we used it for breakfast and not for storing long-term. When a chicken lays an egg, it has a natural coating on it known as the bloom. This bloom is a layer of protection for the egg which keeps out oxygen as well as harmful bacteria and germs. Anytime you wash or dry buff an egg, you are removing that protective outer coating, which in turn allows bacteria to more easily enter the egg, causing spoilage.
Method #2: Salt Preservation of Eggs
This is another easy way to preserve fresh eggs from your backyard. First off, be sure to use only fresh eggs that you have not cleaned. If they age more than 24 hours, your chances of success diminish rapidly. Also, exposure to extreme heat or cold will hinder your preservation process, so keep that in mind as well.
I stored my eggs in salt, but you can store your eggs in any other finely ground preservative you may have, such as bran, or an equal mix of finely ground charcoal and dry bran, or finely ground oats. You can also store them in finely ground plaster of Paris, but that seems awfully unappetizing to me.
If you are like me and you hate to waste anything, keep in mind that you need not discard the salt or bran you use to preserve eggs. After you have used the eggs that were preserved in the mix, you can go ahead and feed the salt and bran to your cattle, if you have cows, or find another use for them.
Next, stack the eggs and store them small-side down. You can store the eggs layer upon layer, so long as you make sure that they don’t touch each other, or metal, or wood. Be sure you have enough finely ground preservative to pack them in well. Store them in a covered container and keep it in a cool, dry place. Old-timers often used a root cellar for this. However, see that you do not allow the eggs to be exposed to freezing temperatures, as this will rot your eggs quickly. Properly prepared, these eggs will keep “fresh” for anywhere from 8 to 10 months. In fact, people in some countries are known to have stored their eggs in this way for up to 2 years.
Method #3: “Freeze Them Eggs, Son”
That’s what one local fella at the farmer’s market suggested. While I do not have a ton of freezer room, I do know that this works and is certainly easy to do. Freezing is the least time-consuming method for long-term storage, but it is energy-dependent. Still, if you do have the freezer room, you might want to give it a try.
Eggs can be frozen in many different containers, such as freezer bags, mason jars, plastic containers, and ice cube trays. These frozen eggcicles perform much like the fresh version when thawed and used. To freeze, simply break the eggs into a bowl, beat or push through a strainer to combine the yolks and whites, and then pour them into your container and freeze. To save space, I pour the eggs into a large ice cube tray (the kind where each cube holds about 3 tablespoons) and, once frozen, remove them from the tray and place in a freezer bag.
As a guide, remember that:
- 1 large “egg cube” = approximately 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp. frozen egg, thawed = 1 whole fresh egg
- 2 Tbsp. frozen egg white, thawed = 1 fresh egg white
- 1 Tbsp. frozen yolk, thawed = 1 fresh egg yolk
The beauty of freezing eggs in smaller amounts, such as in an ice cube tray, is that they thaw quickly and allow one to throw together a really quick meal. Between quiches, frittatas, and even “breakfast for dinner,” we are never at a loss for great egg-based meals at my house!