Eggs. It’s incredible just how versatile these little guys are and just how much we depend on them. Whether over easy, hard-boiled, baked in a cake or cookies, or used as a binder, it’s unlikely that a week goes by when you don’t use what might just be the world’s perfect food.
But you know what makes me sad? The idea that those of us who raise chickens for eggs may end up wasting some of them in the spring and summer because of over-production. We might then have to buy the much-inferior grocery store eggs in the winter when our hens have slowed down laying.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways—some far better than others—to preserve eggs for anywhere from a few weeks to several years. And if you would like to add to your long-term pantry to have fresh eggs available in a natural disaster or other crisis, there is one method of preservation that stands above the rest—lime-water preserving.
But first, let’s take a quick look at the other options for preservation.
Historical Methods For Preserving Eggs
In addition to lime-water preservation, there are many other methods used over the last several hundred years to keep eggs longer than they could last naturally.
DRYING – With this method, eggs are cracked, beaten, and then dehydrated either in a commercially purchased dehydrator or in an oven.
However, a potential problem with this method is that the eggs must be dried at a heat of 165°F or more. With most dehydrators, that isn’t possible. Without being heated to that temperature, you’re risking salmonella—and that’s not a good idea.
When done correctly and at appropriate temps, this method is acceptable, although the eggs yielded are better for cooking with than eating. Dried eggs can be vacuum sealed for even longer, safer storage.
FREEZING – To freeze eggs, you start the same way as drying: out of the shell and beaten. The biggest drawback to freezing eggs is that the process requires electricity—a freezer—for storage, and depending on your circumstances, electricity may not always be available.
MINERAL OIL (or cooking oil, butter, or lard) – With this method, you are essentially sealing the pores of the eggshell so that no bacteria can permeate it and thus contaminate the egg. But the fat source usually needs to be heated on a stovetop or in a microwave to melt it or purify it, and that requires electricity.
It’s also messy and, in the case of butter, can turn rancid. Storage may also attract rodents or insects.
SALT or WOOD ASH – Another preservation method is to store eggs in a box or crate willed with salt or wood ash. This should get you through winter but isn’t a viable longer-term solution. And both substances can permeate an eggshell and alter an egg’s flavor.
WATER GLASS – Water glass preservation is a chemical means for sealing and insulating whole eggs in a gel-like mixture of water and sodium silicate. For this method, the eggs must be very fresh—no more than 24 hours old. They become very slippery and potentially messy and should be pinpricked to prevent the eggs from exploding!
Why Preserve With Lime Water?
Not only will lime-water preserved eggs last for two or more years, but they are also preserved in the shell, so they are much more versatile when it comes time to use them. The taste and consistency of such eggs are nearly identical to fresh eggs.
Preserving eggs this way is super economical and a fantastic way to use all those eggs you can’t use as quickly as your chickens can lay them. They do not require heat or refrigeration for storage and will be an excellent option should access to power be lost. Neither will they attract rodents or bugs.
If you’re thinking “citrus” when you hear lime water, well, let’s clear that up right now. What we are actually talking about is slaked lime—a mineral commonly using in building for centuries. Also known as hydrated lime, it is different than the lime one might use in the garden.
Today, you can ask for slaked lime at a building supply store. But it is also used in pickling as an agent to “crisp up” cucumbers. Which means you might be able to find it in the canning section of your local grocery store. And of course, there’s always Amazon.
Just remember, the product you want is PICKLING LIME; the ingredient label should list CALCIUM HYDROXIDE and nothing else.
Even though it’s called pickling lime, you aren’t pickling your eggs when you do this. Pickling lime firms up and seals the eggshells.
What You Will Need
- Fresh eggs—ONLY fresh laid, unwashed eggs will work. Grocery store eggs are washed, and during washing, the natural “bloom” that prevents bacteria from entering through the pores in an egg’s shell is removed.
Furthermore, store-bought eggs are not sustainable outside of a refrigerator. (I bought mine from a kind neighbor.)
- Glass jar with a lid (or other water-tight container with a lid)
- Slaked lime or pickling lime (CALCIUM HYDROXIDE) and measuring spoon
- Bowl or jar for mixing lime solution
How To Lime-Water Preserve Eggs
In a large jar, mix room temperature water with one ounce (about two heaping tablespoons) of calcium hydroxide. You can adjust or multiply this ratio to suit your needs.
Shake or stir to mix. The mixture will be milky white.
Choose eggs without cracks or any other issues and that are as fresh as possible. They should be clean but unwashed. Fill the jar with the eggs.
Pour the lime-water solution over the eggs, ensuring they are completely submerged.
Cap the jar tightly.
Store in a cool, dry location for up to two years.
When you’re ready to use your preserved eggs, remove them from the solution and rinse.
(Rinsing ensures the lime solution will not affect the flavor of the eggs.)
Then crack them as use them as desired.
Could It Be Any Easier?
When you preserve eggs with lime water, you are:
- Ensuring a nutritious, versatile food source is available when you need it.
- Making the most of the eggs your chickens produce. (I hate wasting food, and I’m sure the same is true for you.)
Eggs preserved using this method:
- Do not require electricity for storage.
- Will not attract rodents or insects.
- Will remain viable for at least two years.
Preserving eggs for future use, whether for self-reliance, homesteading, or disaster preparation, is easy and smart.
What do you think? Do you have laying chickens? Will you try preserving eggs? Have you used a different method to preserve eggs? Let us know in the comments.
This article first appeared on Ask A Prepper.
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Do they have to be just layer, I’ve got some from early October. I saw someone say they have to be freshly layer to lime bath them