4 Ways to Preserve Farm Fresh Eggs for Winter Eating
Did you know chickens are seasonal layers? YES!
This means they will lay a mountain of eggs during the sunny warm summer weather but then reduce their efficiency over the winter months. Of course, this varies depending on the environment in which they live but if left to their natural state, this is what happens.
Our chickens at Wholesome Pastures live with the sunshine while roaming our open pastures alongside our cattle and sheep. They are more sensitive to the change in daylight hours once fall comes knocking. We have little to no supplemental lighting which means the birds go into a more dormant state of mind and body. This is true while they are kept in a chicken coop in the winter months with natural light coming via a glass window.
A chicken molting is natural and tends to happen in the fall. They stop laying eggs and begin to exchange old feathers for new. This means they start looking a little bare and if you haven't seen it before, you may question if something was wrong with them. It would be wise to evaluate the birds for other issues during this time.
A chicken owner may feel these effects of the molt with an abrupt decline in eggs to collect. For this reason, we tend to store eggs during the heavy laying periods in order to prepare for low production periods. After all, we eat nearly a dozen eggs in one day.
But how do you preserve eggs?!
That sort of depends where you source your eggs from.
If you purchase grocery store eggs, they have been collected at least 1+ week ago and were washed and cooled. This limits your options on storage.
If you have unwashed farm fresh eggs they are stable at room temperature for extended periods of time. In many other countries, people keep eggs in this way for weeks.
Unwashed farm fresh eggs have sat on our counter for a month without going bad. I'm not saying you should do this, I'm just letting you know what we have done with our own eggs, at our own risk.
The reason they can stay good for so long is because they haven't been washed. This process removes a protective layer called the bloom. Its role is to protect the egg and block the porous nature of the egg so that bacteria cannot enter. If this is washed away, the egg is at risk of being infected.
But what about store bought eggs that have been washed?
Refrigeration helps to slow any bacterial growth and reduce the chance the eggs turn bad. This is why commercial eggs are also refrigerated. Keep in mind, even if you leave the eggs unwashed, once you put eggs in the fridge, they cannot be stored back on the counter.
Here are 4 ways you can preserve your fresh eggs
- Freeze them: Crack you fresh or store bought eggs into silicone muffin trays. Place in the freezer and pop out when frozen. Store in air tight containers or zip bags via the freezer.
- Hard Boil: While this may be a shorter term option, you can use older eggs for this delicious option. We have hard-boiled eggs and froze them to keep longer. Use fresh or store bought.
- Water Glass: This is an old method of preservation and one that may initially seem odd but when you get that fresh egg in January, it'll be so rewarding! Using water and Sodium Hydroxide (lime). Over time the egg shell becomes more fragile so they are not suitable for hard boiling, but they work great pan fried or incorporated into baking and cooking recipes. Be sure to select eggs that are fresh that day and free from any soiling material (straw, chicken poop, mud...). Must be fresh unwashed eggs.
- Freeze Drying: The longest storage option: While you require access to a machine for this, this method is VERY long lasting. Many long-term storage preppers use this option and package the resulting egg powder in Mylar bags. These can last over 10 years! It can be considered an extreme dehydrating method where all moisture is removed. To use the eggs, you simply mix some of the concentrated egg powder with water. This limits your ability to have an over easy egg but, variety may not be the goal here. Better to have eggs you know than not have any! Can use fresh or store bought eggs.
Are you interested in a more detailed explanation of these methods? Do you use any of these methods? Did we miss something to include?
Be sure you follow @wholesomepastures and if you're local, check out the food via our farm shop in person or on our website: www.wholesomepastures.ca. We do ship non-perishable items.
Below: Waterglassed Eggs; Wholesome Pastures Farm Fresh Eggs; Freezing eggs