Thursday, February 11, 2010


Finally the girls have started laying  eggs for us again!  There is always some sort of eggsitement  to each late winter or early spring when  the ladies begin to lay their first eggs of the season no matter how long you have had chickens. It's the same feeling you get when you  harvest your first veggies out of the garden or at least it is for me.

 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


  1. Hello and good morning! Our ladies are picking back up on their laying again also and our egg customers are as eggcited*wink* as we are. Our Dd requested eggs and cream sauce over toast for breakfast this morning, add to that a patty of homemade pork sausage and you're set!

    Blessings for your weekend,
    Kelle from "The Never Done Farm"

  2. those are some nice dark brown eggs you've got there, dilli! enjoyed your post & learned from it too, we should be freezing some of our extras! though they usually go to the neighbors as my part of the community food system.

  3. you too kelle and michelle.:)
    The brown eggs are from the black copper marans and the eggs that look white are actually green and from the aracaunas