When it comes to preserving eggs there is a lot to know. Powdered egg products are nice to have during survival situations and long emergencies but they are quite expensive to purchase. Fortunately there are ways to preserve eggs and maintain their nutritional value for an extended period of time.
Chicken, duck, and goose eggs are likely what you will be preserving. To understand how preservation works you need to realize that an egg shell is porous. There is an oxygen exchange going on from the time an egg is laid until it is used or goes bad. Preserving eggs in the shell means stopping the air exchange. If you hold a flashlight up to an egg that was laid a week ago and one that was laid the same day you will notice that the air space is bigger in the older egg.
If you plan on preserving eggs it is essential to preserve them as soon as possible after they are laid. If you are buying eggs then try to get them at a farmer’s market or go to an egg farm and pick up directly. The fresher the egg when you preserve it the longer it will stay preserved.
Make Sure Eggs Are Unwashed For Longest Storage Capability
Unwashed eggs keep longer in general because when you wash them you remove a protective coating called the “bloom”. This is another reason to avoid most commercial eggs if you want the most long lasting eggs. Be aware that even some small producers may wash eggs so if you are really worried simply ask if you can buy them unwashed and arrange for an egg order at the same time.
Drying eggs is not hard but they do need to dried for a long time so don’t plan on doing this without a good food dehydrator capable of higher temps or you can use your oven. Before we tell you the step by step process let’s talk safety when it comes to drying eggs.
The Golden Rule: Never dry eggs at temperatures below 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing this puts you at risk for salmonella developing. It is horrible and not worth the risk.
Many food dehydrators will not dry at this temperature so unless you want to purchase one, your oven is your best bet. Let’s go with the oven method as it is more realistic for a lot of people without expensive dehydrators.
- Preheat oven to 165-175.
- Crack eggs and whisk together like scrambling
- Pour onto cookie sheets with sides or any other pan. The thinner you pour the eggs the quicker they will dry. It is better to go thinner and start another batch then have a thick layer that stays in the oven a lot longer.
- You might want to have two sets of sheets or pans because you will want to let eggs cool for a few minutes before removing from pans.
- Crumble dried eggs as fine as you can and place in an airtight container with oxygen and moisture absorber packets.
Dehydrator Usage: If you choose to use a high temp dehydrator you can use the same liners and trays you would use for fruit leather to dry.
A Note On Taste: Dried eggs have a much different texture and flavor than what you are used to. Many people do not enjoy scrambled eggs nearly as much when they have to eat those made from dried eggs. For a long term situation stand point, dried eggs are best for baking and cooking with but not eating fried up breakfast style. Eggs that are frozen or preserved in shell are best for traditional omelets and scrambled eggs.
Vacuum Sealing & Portions Sizes
You could also use a vacuum sealer and place dried eggs in vacuum seal bags with a moisture and oxygen absorber. This will significantly extend the shelf life. Using vacuum sealers also means you can create custom portion sizes. In a survival situation with only a few people, a large container might stay open for awhile.
Having 10 dozen eggs in portions for 2 people for a day means you don’t have a container that is open for weeks or longer before it is used up. Insects and other vermin can more easily smell open foods. When you are trying to get through a major situation, good sealing and realistic container sizes can play a larger role than you might think. There are some situations where losing food to animals could make for some very hard times for you and your family.
2. Gel & Seal: The Water Glass Method
Sodium silicate when mixed with water forms a gel. When mixed into a crock or other container it makes an ideal compound for preserving eggs for the long term. Using this method you can keep eggs for around 2 years with no refrigeration required. If temperatures are kept cooler they may last even longer. If you have a basement or crawl space then it may be the egg storage you need.
Rutland Water Glass
To preserve eggs, you simply mix 11 parts boiled and cooled water to 1 part water glass and pour in a clean crock. Wipe off fresh eggs (do not wash) and place in the solution and make sure they are covered with at least 2 inches of the solution. Place cover on crock. A single gallon jug of this will allow you to preserve up to 50 dozen eggs.
Ohio Stoneware 2 Gallon Crock
Crocks come in a lot of sizes. While bigger might seem better to some, remember how heavy it is going to be if you have to move it at all. This is a heavy item so you may be able to find one locally at your farm supply or kitchen store for a good price as well. Always buy crocks made in USA or Europe to ensure food safe finishes were used.
3. Mineral Oil
This method is super easy to do. Simply rub the outside of each egg shell with slightly warmed mineral oil and place back in the carton. Eggs will keep even at room temperature for up to 8 months this way. A single bottle of mineral oil is very cheap and has a lot of other uses.
While frozen eggs are not going to last long in a power out situation, freezing will allow you to keep some extra eggs on hand. In this case buying store eggs that are washed doesn’t matter because you are going to be preserving them without their shell. Frozen eggs keep for about a year.
To freeze use one of the following methods.
- Air Tight Jar
- Canning jars or Tupperware that is made for freezing are good for preserving eggs. Simply mix up eggs like you would to scramble them and pour into jars. They can stay frozen like this for 9 months or so.
- Ice Cube Trays & Airtight Container
- Breaking eggs into ice cube trays works well and they stack neatly. Some freeze in scrambled form while others separate white from the yolk and freeze them in different cube compartments. After the egg cubes freeze you will need to put them in an airtight container within your freezer.
Freezing and then vacuum sealing is another method for to reduce freezer burn and make frozen eggs easy to store. This method may extend the freezer life of your eggs by at least a few months because you are ensuring that there is not extra room for ice crystals and freezer burn.
5. Lime Solution & Stoneware Crock
Pickling lime or food grade calcium hydroxide is usually much cheaper to get at a grocery store. Regardless it is still a good deal for egg preservation.
Eggs can be covered in a liquid lime solution and stored for up to 15 months before use. This is one of the USDA recommended methods but many people just use the sodium silicate gel method if they are using a crock. To preserve eggs with lime use the following method:
- Maker sure crock is clean and free of debris from storage.
- Combine 1 lb of pickling lime with a gallon of boiling water in a large container and stir to make a thin paste. Allow to become cold and pour into your crock.
- This is your egg preservation solution. If you have a big crock you may need to double or triple the amount of solution.
- Use a pin to prick a small hole in each egg. Place the egg into the lime solution in the crock making sure to place them with the pointed end down. Continue to do this until your crock is full or you are out of eggs. The most important thing is that each egg is fully surrounded by the lime solution
- Place a lid over the crock to seal. The crock will be heavy so make sure it is in the right place so you can avoid moving and possible breakage.
Pickled eggs can be really good but since there is no safe and recommended way of pickling and canning, this method is not a good way to go for very long term storage. However eggs can be preserved this way for short periods of time with refrigeration. Here is a step by step guide to pickling eggs followed by some recipes to try out.
1. Hardboil cool, and peel eggs.
Handy Tip: When it comes to boiling eggs it is a lot easier to peel eggs that have been laid for at least a few days. Really fresh eggs don’t peel easily. Eggs that were bought at the grocery store are probably going to peel easy whereas your fresh farmers market or home raised ones might need a few days.
2. Put eggs in quart jar and cover with one of the brine recipes listed below.
3. Put jar in refrigerator and allow to brine for 1-4 weeks depending on the size of eggs you used and how much flavor and spice you desire in them. Best flavor and freshness occurs withing the first 3-4 months.
Note: Each of these recipes are for one quart jar. The amount of eggs you can fit in a quart depends on the size of the egg. A solid dozen is about the maximum if using small to medium eggs. You want to make sure there is enough brine to throughly saturate all the eggs so don’t overstuff eggs into the jar.
[All Recipes Courtesy Of The National Center For Food Preservation at the University Of Georgia]
1. Red Beet Eggs
1 cup red beet juice (from canned beets)
1½ cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
a few canned whole tiny red beets (or several slices of beets can be used)
2. Sweet and Sour Eggs
1½ cups pasteurized apple cider
½ cup cider vinegar
1 package (about 12 oz.) red cinnamon candy
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spice
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
3. Dark and Spicy Eggs
1½ cups cider vinegar
½ cup water
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke or hickory smoke salt
2 teaspoons salt
4. Cidered Eggs
1½ cups pasteurized sweet apple cider or apple juice
½ cup white vinegar
6 thin slices of onion
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon whole pickling spice
1 peeled garlic clove
5. Dilled Eggs
1½ cups white vinegar
1 cup water
¾ teaspoon dill weed
¼ teaspoon white pepper
3 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon onion juice or minced onion
½ teaspoon minced garlic or 1 peeled garlic clove
1. Pineapple Pickled Eggs
1 can (12 oz.) unsweetened pineapple juice*
1½ cups white vinegar
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon whole pickling spice
*If sweetened pineapple juice is used, omit sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Best Times To Get Eggs
In the spring, a lot of farmers and small backyard producers are covered up with more eggs than they can deal with and some are producers in the range where they have a few extra dozen a week but no more so it is not worth it to sell them at a market.
If you don’t have chickens of your own, seek out the small producers in the Spring and take advantage of picking up a few dozen a week and putting them back. You will get a lot of food quality for your dollar and help put a local small producer.
The Argument For Raising Your Own Eggs
If you have the space for a few backyard chickens, they can help you put back some food. Many small towns and cities even allow a few backyard hens. A lot of areas do not allow roosters though due to the noise levels they create.
During good laying times, you will get an egg a day per hen. That means a family of 2 with 5 hens that eats an egg each a day on average will still have 21 eggs a week excess that can be preserved. Chicken tractors (small bottomless pens) are a popular choice and they can help you create very fertile raised bed gardens at the same time!
Kitchen scraps like fruits and vegetables can literally be made into eggs and the hens will help eliminate insects around your yard. I live in Western North Carolina and let me tell you it is amazing what chickens can do for a Black Widow spider or tick problem.
Some people do not like to feed their chickens meat scraps just on principal but meat scraps that have no chicken in them are just fine and provide valuable protein to your hens.
You will find that you might not really compost much if anything if you keep a few chickens.
Predators love chickens though so you need to be sure they are protected at night even if you let them run loose during the day. Don’t assume because you are in the suburbs or a city that you are safe from wildlife getting into chickens. City raccoons and opossums are smart and big. In fact in our area the population of small animals that want your chickens seems just as bad if not worse when you live in town!
To get started with raising your own chickens, you can check out our latest guide on building your own chicken coop here.
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