When we first started our homesteading journey, I had no idea there were so many ways to preserve fresh eggs. I thought you kept them on the counter if they were unwashed and in the fridge if they were washed, and otherwise you just used them before they went bad.
Au contraire. Among other methods, you can pickle them, freeze them, store them in lard, refrigerate them for longer than I ever thought possible (up to 7 months if they’re unwashed!), water glass them, and preserve them in pickling lime.
On today’s Adventures in Homesteading, I put 3 dozen eggs into pickling lime.
We’re currently experiencing a glut of fresh eggs since we have 2 dozen laying hens and don’t usually eat more than a dozen eggs in a day. I sell a couple dozen every week or so, but even with several of our hens in molt, we still have an abundance of fresh eggs.
So today I set about preserving the excess. Since laying tends to slow down in the winter and we’re also planning to hatch out a bunch of chicks in the spring for meat and to replace older layers, it will be good to have some eggs stored away for fresh eating.
I’ve read that this method of preservation keeps eggs fresh for anywhere from 5 months to 2 years. This is my first attempt, and I’m a little nervous, but also excited to see how it goes!
Read on for what I’ve learned about the time-honored tradition of preserving fresh eggs with pickling lime.
Introduction to Preserving Fresh Eggs with Pickling Lime
In a world of refrigeration and modern food preservation methods, it’s easy to forget the ingenious techniques our ancestors used to make the most of their seasonal bounty. Pickling lime, also known as slaked lime or hydrated lime, is one such age-old secret that has been preserving the freshness of eggs for generations.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through every step of the process, from understanding what pickling lime is to preparing the eggs, creating the solution, and storing your eggs for the long haul.
So, grab your apron, gather your fresh eggs, and let’s embark on a journey into the world of preserving with pickling lime.
In the upcoming sections, I’ll demystify pickling lime, walk you through the step-by-step process of preserving your fresh eggs, and provide helpful tips and ideas for using preserved eggs in a variety of dishes.
What is Pickling Lime?
Pickling lime, also known as calcium hydroxide or slaked lime, has a rich history in the world of food preservation. This alkaline substance has been used for centuries to preserve fruits, vegetables, and, of course, eggs.
It creates an environment that discourages the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms and fills in the pores in the shell’s structure, making it an effective preservative.
Comparison to Water Glassing
Around the internet you will often see preserving eggs in pickling lime referred to as “water glassing.” This term is not entirely accurate, however.
The method is similar to water glassing, in that you mix a substance with water and put the fresh eggs in it. The shelf life is also comparable.
But water glassing uses sodium silicate, which used to be commonly available but today has become hard to find, rather than calcium hydroxide, or pickling lime.
Preparing Your Equipment
You probably already have most of what you need right in your kitchen. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll want to have on hand:
- Fresh eggs: Start with the best quality eggs you can find. Freshness is key to a successful pickling experience. Read the next section for more detail on selecting eggs.
- Pickling lime: This is the star of the show, and I’ll talk about how to handle it safely in an upcoming section.
- Water: Clean, fresh water is essential for creating the pickling solution. Use either filtered water or tap water that you’ve left out on the counter of 24 hours to gas off any chlorine content.
- Suitable containers: You’ll need food-safe jars or containers with a tight-fitting lid to store your pickled eggs. I fit 3 dozen eggs of various sizes in a gallon jar.
- Kitchen scale: You’ll need a kitchen scale to ensure precise proportions for the pickling solution.
Now that you’ve got your equipment ready, you’re ready to start preserving fresh eggs in pickling lime.
Preparing the Eggs
Before you get into the preservation process, it’s crucial to ensure that your fresh eggs are in the best possible condition. Here’s what you need to know:
Selecting the Freshest Eggs: The quality of your preserved eggs starts with the eggs themselves. Look for eggs with intact shells, free of cracks or defects. Fresher eggs work best, so if you have your own backyard hens or access to a local farm, that’s a fantastic place to start.
Make sure your eggs are unwashed.
Eggs have to be unwashed to preserve them using the pickling lime method because the natural protective coating on the eggshell, known as the “bloom” or “cuticle,” plays a crucial role in the preservation process.
The bloom is a thin, waxy layer that naturally covers the eggshell. It acts as a protective barrier, sealing the eggshell’s pores and preventing the entry of bacteria, air, and moisture. This natural protection helps to keep the egg’s contents fresh and prevents spoilage.
When you wash eggs, you remove this protective bloom, making the eggshell more porous and allowing other substances to enter the eggshell.
Preserving unwashed eggs with pickling lime ensures that the natural barrier remains intact, allowing the eggs to be safely stored for an extended period while maintaining their quality and flavor.
Preparing the Pickling Lime Solution
This solution serves as the protective environment that keeps your eggs fresh and flavorful. Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients for the Pickling Solution:
- 1 quart (approximately 4 cups) of water
- 1 ounce of pickling lime (calcium hydroxide)
You can increase this solution as needed, depending on the size of your storage container. Make an amount equivalent to half the capacity of your container.
For example, I made a half gallon of solution to fit the gallon jar I used for 3 dozen eggs.
Now, let’s walk through the steps:
- Start by measuring 1 quart of water. Use chlorine-free water for this purpose.
- In a non-reactive container (such as glass, food-grade plastic, or stainless steel), add 1 ounce by weight of pickling lime to the measured water. (Use your kitchen scale.) Stir the mixture thoroughly until the lime is fully dissolved.
- Be sure to handle the pickling lime with care, as it is an alkaline substance. Use it in a well-ventilated area and wash your hands after handling to avoid skin irritation.
The pickling lime preserving solution is now ready for use, but be mindful of some important safety guidelines. Always store pickling lime in a cool, dry place, securely sealed, and out of reach of children. When mixing it, ensure proper ventilation to prevent inhaling any dust.
Preserving the Eggs
Now comes the exciting part: preserving your fresh eggs using the prepared solution. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your clean and dry eggs in a suitable container or jar. Make sure the container has a tight-fitting lid to keep the pickling lime solution secure.
- Carefully pour the pickling lime solution over the eggs, ensuring that they are fully submerged. The eggs should be completely covered by the solution to preserve them effectively.
- Seal the container or jar with the lid; mark the jar with today’s date; and store in a cool, dark location.
Using Eggs Preserved in Pickling Lime
Now that your eggs have been preserved in pickling lime, you might be wondering how to make the most of them in your culinary endeavors.
It’s essential to note that preserved eggs in pickling lime are not “pickled” in the traditional sense, and their flavor remains largely unchanged.
Here are some tips for using these preserved eggs:
- Rinse Before Use: Preserved eggs should be rinsed before use to remove any residual lime. This is a crucial step to ensure they taste like fresh eggs.
- Crack Into Separate Bowl: To ensure your eggs are still good, it’s a good idea to crack them into a separate bowl before using so you don’t risk ruining a recipe.The whites may become thinner over time but are still safe to use. If they’re bad, you’ll smell it and know!
- Versatile Ingredient: Preserved eggs can be used in recipes just like fresh eggs. Use them in baking, frying, scrambling, or poaching, and enjoy the same results you would with fresh eggs.
- Hard-Boiling: Preserved eggs are excellent for making hard-boiled eggs. Just use a pin to poke a small hole in the shell to ensure the egg can “breathe” before boiling. Once boiled and peeled, you’ll find they make a convenient and flavorful snack.
Remember that preserved eggs in pickling lime are an excellent alternative to fresh eggs, and their primary preservation impact is on shelf life rather than flavor.
In the following section, I’ll address some safety tips and troubleshooting advice to ensure your experience with preserving eggs in pickling lime is enjoyable and worry-free.
Safety and Tips
As you embark on your journey of preserving eggs in pickling lime, it’s essential to keep some safety guidelines in mind to ensure that your preserved eggs remain fresh and safe for consumption.
Here are key tips and advice:
- Handle Pickling Lime Safely: Always exercise caution when handling pickling lime. It’s an alkaline substance that can be harmful to your skin and eyes. Use it in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any dust and wash hands after handling.
- Use Fresh Ingredients: To create the best-preserved eggs, start with the freshest eggs you can find. The quality of your eggs directly impacts the final product.
- Maintain Proper Hygiene: Keep your equipment, containers, and hands clean throughout the process to prevent any contamination.
- Label and Date: Label your containers with the preservation date to enjoy your preserved eggs at their best.
- Watch for Spoilage Signs: If you notice any unusual odors, off colors, or changes in texture in your preserved eggs, discard them to avoid consuming spoiled food.
By following these safety guidelines and tips, you can enjoy your preservation journey with confidence and create preserved eggs that maintain their quality and remain enjoyable.
Preserving eggs in pickling lime is a time-honored method that can help you extend the shelf life of your fresh eggs while maintaining their familiar flavor and texture. While it’s not technically a pickling process in the traditional sense, this preservation technique has been a go-to solution for many home cooks looking to make the most of their egg surplus.
As you venture into this fascinating preservation method, remember that preserved eggs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in various recipes just like fresh eggs. Their primary benefit lies in their extended shelf life, making them a valuable addition to your kitchen.
If you have any questions, experiences, or additional tips to share, please to join the conversation in the comments section. Your input can be a source of inspiration for others looking to embark on their own preservation adventures.