With just the two of us here we don't use all that many eggs in an average week but it probably averages out to about 18 eggs per week. This leaves us with a spare dozen or so eggs a week to put back or preserve for the few months where the ladies either don't lay at all or lay sporadically. This year we have accomplished our goal of not having to buy any eggs what so ever in the winter months. In fact, I think I have a couple spare dozen put back in the freezer yet.
There are a few different methods used in egg preservation but first and foremost I would like to clear a few misconceptions about eggs up. Fresh eggs from the farm need no refrigeration and have a decent shelf life without it. Fresh,they can sit on a counter in a cool area for 2-3 weeks. Eggs kept in the fridge can last 2-3 months with no problem. The reason for this is that your eggs purchased from a store "fresh" are in all actuality over a month old before they are even shipped to a grocer.Unfortunately keeping enough fresh eggs in the fridge to get us through the 2-3 months that the hens dont lay would use entirely too much space so other methods of preservation are used to get us through.
The easiest and probably the best method of preservation is do nothing. Simply collect the eggs. Do not wash them. There is a coating on eggs that will keep them fresh. Then keep them in a basement or a dark, cool ,dry, well ventilated cellar. Do not let the eggs freeze. The eggs need to be turned once a week. Just keep them in an old egg carton and turn them over once a week. Mother Earth News did a test years ago and I believe they kept eggs for 6 months in a cellar just that way.
Another simple method of saving your eggs through the winter is by larding them. Simply take clean lard and rub the egg filling all the pores so as to exclude all the air. Then store in a cool, dry area. Some other variations of larding include adding salt to the lard or larding and then rolling in salt. I have never tried adding salt to the mix as I have read that it tends to make the eggs rubbery when opened.
Freezing is another simple way to preserve your excess eggs. Simply take them out of the shell, whip together and throw them in in the freezer in a container. I usually put them in containers of a dozen so that I can use them all with in a few days once I take them out and put them in the fridge. Unfortunately using this method dishes that can be made from the eggs is limited. They work great for scrambles or in baking etc but there will be no sunny side up or deviled eggs and of course it only works if we have electricity. Unfortunately with the economy as it is electricity is now considered a luxury in our home and it is not a guarantee that we will have it forever more so we use other means to preserve them as well.
Yet another method of preserving eggs is through dehydration. This is a very good way to preserve them for long term storage. For this only clean, uncracked, unbroken eggs are used. They are broken into a bowl, whipped, and put on a sheet. Though most say 115 degrees is the right temp., I use 140 degrees because salmonella can't grow if 140 degrees is maintained for 3 1/2 minutes. (that means the product being 140, not the oven) but, I figure as long as it takes them to dehydrate, it's bound to be 140 for that long. And if you're still concerned, you could put the final product in the oven at 160 degrees. That should kill most any bacteria.
The eggs will crust over on the top when being dehydrated and moist underneath. Just break it up and turn it over. I dry mine til they will crumble. Then I put them in a blender and they turn into powder. You want to make sure they are totally dry with no moisture or they will mold.Store in an airtight container Use as you would any powdered egg. Using this method your eggs will keep near indefinitely.
There are several other methods of preserving eggs out there. Some involving the use of lime, some pickling the eggs and some using charcoal to preserve. There is even an old french method that dips the eggs in to boiling water for a minute in order to preserve. I have not discussed any of them here simply because I have never used any of those methods. The ones I have covered I use and well, they haven't killed any of us off yet so feel safe in passing them on.
For safety sake please only use these preservation methods on farm fresh eggs.
The one neat thing about eggs is that it is a very simple procedure that can be done to tell if an egg is still good or not. The simple water drop. Place an egg in water, if it stays on the bottom or near the bottom it is good. To better describe the method here is a poem I found on the subject.
Can you eat that egg?If not sure you ought-ter,
then place it in water.
If it lies on its side,
then it's fresh; eat with pride.
After three or four days,
at an angle it lays.
But, it still is a treat,
so go on and eat.
Ten days, stands on end,
in your baking 'twill blend.
'Cause it's definitely edible,
in your baking, incredible.
But, if it floats on the surface,
that egg serves no purpose.
'Cause a floater's a stinker!
Out the back door best fling 'er
by Scott Matthews