By Katie Thear
We’ve all been there: a few eggs from reliable layers to keep us going through the winter months, while the rest of the flock takes a holiday. Then, suddenly, as the season changes, they’re all at it. There’s a deluge of eggs that can’t possibly be used up by the average family, and no one can face yet another omelette for dinner.
What’s to be done with them?
Surplus eggs can, of course, be given away or sold to friends and neighbours, but there are also ways of storing them for those lean times ahead, when the flock decides to go on strike again. Storing eggs for Winter is actually good practice as almost as soon as you are overflowing with eggs the seasons change and again you are back to sporadic or no laying at all.
Traditionally, eggs were stored in a solution of waterglass (sodium silicate). (This is not to be confused with isinglass, a product for use in winemaking). A solution of waterglass is made up in the ratio of one part sodium silicate to nine parts of water and then placed in a large container.
Traditionally, an earthenware crock with lid was used, but a high-density, food-quality plastic bucket with lid is a good alternative. Only clean, fresh, undamaged eggs with no surface cracks are stored. These are placed in the solution, and added to each day until the container is full. The solution should cover the eggs completely.
With this method, the eggs will keep for up to six months, enough to cover the period when fewer eggs are laid. When you come to use the eggs, remember to smell them as you crack the shells in case any have gone off. (Anyone over the age of fifty will remember that this used to be standard practice with all eggs). Some eggs may have had undetectable hairline cracks when you put them in.
Although waterglass was once easy to buy, it can now be difficult to locate, although some chemists may order it for you. In my view, an even better way of storing eggs is by refrigeration, a method that was not available to poultry keepers of the past.
Whole eggs cannot be frozen, of course, otherwise they would expand and explode, but once out of their shells, they freeze well, ready to be used in a variety of recipes.
Crack each egg carefully and pour the whites into one dish and the yolks into another. This is not as difficult as it sounds and if a little bit of the white gets into the yolk, it doesn’t matter. Once you have separated them all, the whites can be poured into one ice cube tray, while the yolks go into another.
The reason for separating them in this way is that the recipes subsequently used may require either whites or yolks. It’s also easier to work out how many eggs are involved: two white cubes and one yolk cube are equivalent to one whole egg.
A further refinement is to divide the cubes into ‘savoury’ and ‘sweet’. Those that are destined to be used in savoury dishes should have a little salt added, while those that are to be used for cake making should have a sprinkling of caster sugar added. The reason for doing this is that when the cubes are subsequently defrosted, they are less likely to be sticky and have a skin on the top.
The defrosted eggs can be used for any recipe that requires eggs, although omelettes and soufflés may not rise as much as they would with fresh eggs.
Another method of storing whole eggs is to paint them with gum arabic. Use equal parts of gum arabic and water for this. I found this method to be quite fiddly and now stick to the refrigeration method.
Other methods include packing whole eggs in dry cooking salt or immersing them in a brine solution, but those on a low salt diet would probably wish to avoid these methods.
Pickled eggs are popular. Hard boil the eggs then peel them and cover with pickling vinegar. I prefer to use the milder cider vinegar than malt vinegar. To produce spiced vinegar, heat the cider vinegar with a bag of pickling spice and then just as it reaches boiling point, turn off the heat and leave to cool. Remove the spice bag and pour the cooled vinegar over the eggs.
Finally, surplus eggs can be used to make plain sponge cakes that are then frozen in plastic bags. When defrosted, they can have fillings and toppings such as butter icing added, or can be used as trifle bases.
So, don’t let those eggs pile up. Save them for a rainy day!
Further Articles All About Eggs
- Araucana Egg Shell Colour & Genetics
- Build Your Own Artificial Lighting System for Winter Egg Production
- Changing Egg Yolk Colour with Feeding
- Double Yolk Eggs – What Causes Double Yolk Eggs?
- Egg Shell Colour Chart by Breed of Hen
- Egg Structure – The Structure of an Egg
- Eggs from Different Species
- Know Your Eggs? – Egg Descriptions Explained
- Marketing Your Surplus Eggs – How to Sell Your Eggs
- Nutritional Value of Eggs – Are Free Range Eggs Better for You?
- Pale Eggs – Egg Shell Colour
- Problems With Eggs – Yolks & Whites
- Saving Money – Economics of Home Produced Eggs
- Selling Your Surplus Eggs at Markets
- Selling Your Surplus Eggs from Home – Farm Gate Egg Sales
- Thin Eggshells – Causes & Cures
- What to do with Surplus Eggs? How to Store Eggs