Preserving Eggs (For Winter)

Have patience, my vegan friends. I will eventually get back to some vegan oriented posts as I frequently do. Meanwhile, perhaps, a lacto-ovo vegetarian thing or two.

Most people around the world do not refrigerate their eggs. Eggs keep just fine at room temperature for a week or two, that is, unless the eggs are purchased from a grocery store in the United States. Eggs come naturally from the hen with a protective coating, called the bloom or cuticle, which prevents exterior bacteria from penetrating the shell. Eggs in the United States are washed, per government regulation, before distribution to retailers and the public. Washing sanitizes the eggs and makes them safe and esthetically more appealing, however the process removes the protective bloom, rendering the eggs susceptible to future contamination unless they are refrigerated. It should go without saying that unwashed eggs from backyard raised fowl keep just as well unrefrigerated in America as they do in Europe.

As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop in winter (northern hemisphere) egg production slows or ceases altogether (so I am told by friends who raise chickens). Before the days of refrigeration a preservation method known as “water glassing” was sometimes used to make the abundant supply of eggs during the productive time of year last through the nonproductive time. Eggs were stored submerged in a lime solution which allowed them to be kept without refrigeration for up to 8 months and even longer.

I was fascinated by the concept and, being the 12 year old going on 66 year old inquisitive child that I am, I had to give it a try.

I regularly purchase farm fresh eggs from a just-down-the-road neighbor/farmer at his roadside produce stand. He washes the eggs before selling as some customers expect and regulations probably require. Last week I requested that he reserve 2 dozen unwashed eggs for me to pick up this week. They were ready and waiting for me today when we made our weekly visit.

water glassing eggs

 

The lidded food grade plastic bucket I chose to use could easily accommodate 5 quarts of liquid lime solution plus the 2 dozen eggs. I used a ratio of 1 oz lime (by weight) to 1 quart water (by measurement). This is the same mineral lime I used with fireclay, sand and cement back in the working days to build fireplaces. This is also the same lime used in the Nixtamalization process of corn, which increases its nutritional benefits and prevents the deficiency disease, pellagra.

water glassing eggs

water glassing eggs

water glassing eggs

 

My source for fresh farm eggs may dry up later this fall when the produce stand closes for the cold season. There is space in the pail for another dozen or more eggs and another quart of lime solution if necessary. There may indeed be practical value to my little experiment.

water glassing eggs



 


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