Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stockpiling Eggs

I know there are many different ways of "preserving" eggs for future use.  The way I've had luck doing it is super-simple and works for me.

Our hens usually go into a molt and stop laying eggs around the middle December.  (Just before I plan on using more of them than usual for holiday baking, of course.)  Knowing this lack of the beautiful, oval orbs is on the horizon, I start stockpiling my eggs about a month before that time.  We don't sell our eggs, but do give them away to friends and use them for barter.  This comes to a screeching halt at that time.

How do I "stockpile" them?  Simply by storing them in our spare refrigerator.

When the eggs come from the hen house, I don't let them sit around at room temperature.  I clean them, put them in egg cartons, label them and into cold storage they go.  Jiffy quick.

I realize many sources say you should never wash your eggs in water because the shells are permeable and will absorb water.  (I also know that commercial egg factories submerge their eggs in hot, soapy [yuck] water to insure they are pristinely clean when they appear in grocery stores.)

Supposedly you can rid your eggs of any dirt by lightly sanding them with sand paper.  (Hmmm, if the egg shells are porous enough for water to get through to some degree, wouldn't the dust from rubbing them with sand paper penetrate the shell?)  I've tried sanding and I can assure you it does not do a good job of removing dirt, manure or whatever else those sometimes muddy little chicken feet deposit on the eggs shells.

But I don't submerge my eggs in water to clean them either.  I put them in a dry sink, turn the faucet on to a low stream of tepid water, moisten a paper towel and clean each egg before placing it on a clean cloth or paper towel to air dry.  Then the eggs are put into egg cartons and go in the refrigerator.  I try to make the time from chicken house to storage refrigerator as short as possible.


Each filled egg carton is labeled with the date so I know which eggs are oldest, which are newest.

I think by the first part of this past December, when our hens squeezed out their last egg before going on hiatus, I had about 18 dozen eggs squirreled away.

I have read that eggs may be as much as two months old when they are purchased from a grocery store.  I just used a carton of eggs from our birds that was 2-1/2 months old and all of the eggs were just fine.

When using "older" eggs, I do put them through a bit of a test first.  And this does require submerging them in water.  Briefly.


~ Put the eggs in a bowl of cold water.  Water should cover eggs by an inch or so.

~ If the egg remains on the bottom of the bowl, it's still fresh.

~ If it sits on the bottom with a slight tilt or angle, it's still fresh and fine to eat.

~ If it stands on end on the bottom of the bowl, it's still safe to eat but is best used for baking.

~ If it floats off the bottom, it's stale and is best discarded.

In the picture above, you can see the white egg on the right is tilted up.  (These were eggs from a carton marked December 31st.  And it's quite possible the tilted egg was older than that because at that time, we were getting very few eggs a day so it took a while for me to fill a whole carton of twelve eggs.)  I cracked that egg into a separate bowl this morning and found it to be A-OK so I used it in a baked egg dish.

Of the many dozen eggs I stockpiled this winter, I still have two dozen "old" ones to use.  I have no fear of using them, especially after I run them through the float test.  Out of all the eggs I saved and have been using in the past couple of months, I had only one that floated to the top of the water.  I cracked it open, and although it looked and smelled fine, I chose not to use it.  Granddog Tucker was happy to have it as a mid-morning snack.

My method of storing eggs certainly wouldn't be as good a method as dehydrating or freezing for a long, long length of time.  But it works for me for the period our hens go into their molt and quit laying during the darkest days of winter.  I think the thing is if you take proper care of your eggs right away when they come from the chickens, they will store very well in a refrigerated temperature for a couple of months . . . or even a smidge longer.

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for the info! I did the exact same thing but had a lot more "floaters". Maybe I need to be more diligent about getting them quickly from the nest several times a day at that time of year. Mmmm..... I'll keep on trying - no other choice!

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    1. Freedom Acres Farm - It's worth a try. All I know is that having my backlog of eggs is one heckuva lot better than buying eggs at the store. Those things taste awful! :o(

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  2. We JUUUUST managed to get by without buying any eggs during the winter lull. I think I had two eggs left when I got the first one of the year. That's cutting it pretty close!

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    1. Judy T - The fact is you made it! I don't even like to bake with any eggs but our own. Spoiled? Yeah.

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  3. That was interesting! I was wondering how you did it when you mentioned eggs in your previous post. It's great that that many eggs will keep for so long.

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    1. LindaCO - Saves our bacon! I mean eggs. ;o)

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  4. I didn't realize you could store eggs that long. Great info.

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    1. Sparkless - When you have your own fresh (really fresh!) eggs, it's possible. For which I am thankful!

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  5. Great post! I was shocked when I read that "farm fresh" eggs in the grocery store could be up to two months old. I don't have a problem storing mine in the fridge for awhile now. :)

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  6. Mama Pea,
    It's been a while sence I have commented on one of your post. But I had the same issue with my 10 laying hens. 76 days with a single Egg! but the 10 of them ended 2013 with 1770 Eggs produced and thats on top of the 849 they popped out between early August and December 31, 2012!
    I pack my Eggs in 18 count cartons, Sell a few and even feed them back to the Chickens when I run low on regular feed! And the Dogs love Scrambled Eggs for breakfast!
    Tom

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    1. Tom Stewart - Good to hear from you, Tom. I know you love your chickens and take good care of them. Your dogs, too, if they're getting scrambled eggs for breakfast! (With or without sausage on the side?)

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  7. We do the same thing, but with our large family they don't stay in the fridge very long. We don't sell ours either.

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    1. Kristina - I can understand why it would be hard to stockpile enough for your happy, hungry brood. It's just the two of us which makes it possible.

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  8. For the eggs that I buy in the grocery store, I don't pay attention to the expiration date. they are already old when they go on the shelves, so I always do the water test before I cook them. Good to know about the standing on end is best used in baking. I had not heard that before. Note: Since I don't have any chickens at the moment, I am happy to report that I have found a source for fresh eggs!

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    1. DFW - Next to having your own, finding a good source for fresh eggs is the best! Glad you could do that.

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  9. MamaPea, I use a wet dish cloth to clean my eggs and dry and store them in our cold pump room in the basement. We sell them so some go to our feed store fridge. We do use oldest to youngest.

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    1. Lisa - I'll bet that cold pump room is just like having a spare refrigerator. A BIG spare refrigerator!

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  10. Thanks for the post. I, too, have stored them in the fridge, but I don't think they've ever lasted as long as two months. I'm gonna to try and get them in the fridge faster, if my chickens ever start laying again!
    I did get my first turkey egg about two weeks ago, but none since then. Hoping soon.

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    1. Wow, a turkey egg! We've had duck and goose eggs but never a turkey egg. Did you eat it? If so, how did you prepare it? Taste?

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  11. Good luck to you and your endeavours.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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  12. What an excellent post! Now, I read that we weren't supposed to wash eggs because they're porous and the wash water will push the germs through the shell and contaminate the egg. I confess I've always wanted to see some research on that before buying it. I suppose we could test the water theory by filling a broken shell with water and seeing if it leaks(?)

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    1. Leigh - I filled half an egg shell with water this morning . . . and it didn't leak. When you think of it, if an egg shell is that "leaky" why wouldn't the egg white drip out through the shell? But I guess if an egg shell is the least bit porous, I could see the possibility of something (microbes?) getting through. But if you don't wash them, wouldn't there be the chance that a spot of manure left on the egg shell would cause an undesirable effect? Ei-yi-yi! Sometimes you can't win for losing!

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  13. Informative post. Enjoyed reading them and learned many new information to store the eggs for long time.
    Happy Valentine day!!

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    1. Weekend-Windup - Thank you. And Happy Valentine's Day to you, too!

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  14. When I had my chickens, seems like I always had about 8 dozen in my refrigerator at any given time. When I got more than 8, I'd either give the extra away or I'd crack them, whir them around in the food processor and then pour them into tapered jam jars that hold 8 oz., add a lid, and put them in the freezer. Freezer eggs have a different taste and texture and therefore kind of taste like powdered eggs when scrambled. For this reason I only use those in baking. We haven't had our chickens since last October and gradually I used up all those in the refrigerator, probably around the end of December. I just used the last jar of frozen eggs a few days ago.

    I knew when to expect fresh eggs in the hen house and would go out to check several times a day.

    Also, I don't wash the eggs till I'm ready to use them, unless they're visibly soiled. If I get one that's badly soiled then I will usually hard-boil or scramble it and feed it back to the chickens. They love scrambled eggs.

    If eggs are separated, the white from the egg, the whites can be frozen as they are. Yolks need a little something stirred in (salt, sugar, or oil, depending on how you think they'll be used) and frankly I don't like how gummy they get in the freezer.

    I have read that commercial egg producers don't have to include the time their eggs were in cold storage when calculating the "use by" date that's on the carton. So they may be several weeks old before the clock even starts.

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    1. Ilene - Sounds as though you've had a lot of experience saving eggs in several different ways. Informative to hear what you've done. Thanks!

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  15. Mother Earth News did an interesting study once on the best way to preserve eggs, in various ways. One main thing- don't wash them as the liquid as they lay protects and preserves...

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    1. Little Homestead in Boise - I'm aware of that protective coating, but what I can't come to terms with is so often (no matter how clean you try to keep the nest boxes) the eggs come in from the hen house with manure or other dirt on them. If they're stored in cartons that way, I wouldn't want to use the same cartons again. And if I had to wash each and every egg individually before I used it, that would sure slow down my time in the kitchen. Plus I'd have to clean the sink or whatever other receptacle I used for washing after each egg. It's a dilemma, that's for sure!

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  16. You put into words, exactly what I've been doing for years! Yes! We've never gotten sick from the way we keep our eggs.

    Sometimes I wonder if those of us who grow our own food, as part of our lifestyle, use food in a different way than those who simply depend on the grocery store. For instance, when I reach for an egg, it is with a conscious thought about what I am using it for. The freshest eggs are always used for breakfast cooking - the older eggs are used for baking. I've had chickens for so long now, when I pick up an egg, I can almost tell if it is 'too light' and needs to be checked.

    Terrific Post Mama Pea!! Thank you for taking the time to put into writing your thoughts and process.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. Yes, by raising our own food whether that be eggs or meat or veggies, we do look at it all in a different way . . . sometimes not even realizing that, I think! (But I am so thankful and grateful we have the opportunity to do as we do!)

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  17. Great info for a newbie like me (getting ready to build the coop next week). I will remember this for my own birds.

    http://caffeinatedhomestead.weebly.com/blog.html

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    1. Stephanie - When you get your chickens up and going, may you be inundated with more eggs than you need!

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