Preserving food on the homestead can be a full-time job! We are not to the point of producing all our own food or even a big portion of it, but we are headed that way. Our goal while we live in Florida prior to full-time living on the homestead is to use this time as our classroom. We like to experiment with lots of different home food preservation methods while we are not dependent on those experiments. My latest food preservation experiment is about how to preserve eggs for long-term storage.
I’m going to bring you along while I learn to preserve whole eggs in a lime solution. You may have heard of it as water glassing as well. When I first heard about this method, I wasn’t really interested in trying it. It seems a bit weird, however, some of the methods that seem a little more “normal” to me, didn’t provide as many options to prepare the eggs after storage.
A Few Egg Preservation Methods
I’ve known many people who preserve eggs by freezing This method works well for baking and cooking with eggs in any scrambled type of presentation. However, freezer space is such a limited resource for us. Even with 5 freezers in our arsenal, that space quickly fills up in the fall. Some people freeze eggs in an ice cube tray or muffin tins for individual servings, and others freeze them in batches of expected use.
A freeze-dryer is another good solution. Cooked and raw eggs can be preserved in this way. The raw freeze-dried eggs are processed into egg granules. The egg powder is then rehydrated with water and can be used in baking and cooking with scrambled types of egg dishes: casseroles, quiches, and frittatas. This certainly frees up the freezer space and has a very long shelf life when properly stored.
Using chicken eggs to produce products is another way to preserve eggs. Making egg noodles is a solution to using eggs in an egg-based product that can be stored. Egg noodles can be dried and can be stored in airtight containers in the freezer.
Preserving eggs in alcohol was a popular method in colonial times. When first researching egg preservation methods, one of George Washington’s preferred methods was in the form of eggnog. I hesitate to make such a claim but found some reliable resources and a recipe from his estate at Mount Vernon.
There are many different methods to preserve eggs. Pickling, preserving in salt, fermenting, and preserving in wood ash. Coating in oils, butter, lard, and Vaseline was considered a viable option as well. Even preserving eggs in beeswax was a method used by generations past. I might have to try this one, just for fun!
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Waterglassing Eggs in Sodium Silicate
Traditionally water glassing of eggs is a preservation method of submerging eggs in a sodium silicate solution. The product has a gel-like consistency and is used to seal concrete! I really struggle with the idea of submerging the eggs in such a chemical. The product is sold on a popular farm store‘s website and marketed for just this reason.
Preserving Eggs in Lime Solution
Since the method of preserving eggs in lime solution is so similar to water-glassing, they are often lumped into a single category. In fact, some resources, don’t differentiate between the methods at all. The difference is the type of preservation medium. In my mind, using a food-safe product, like pickling lime, is a better option for our family and the option I am most comfortable with.
While the water glassing and preserving eggs in lime solution are similar, I will clearly identify the two methods separately so as not to create confusion as to which one I am experimenting with. Pickling lime is the household name of the product. It is composed of calcium hydroxide. It is called hydrated lime or slaked lime. Pickling lime is commonly used to keep pickles crunchy when canning. Be aware, that it is different from burnt lime which is used for agricultural purposes. Lime used for agriculture is toxic. When in doubt about the type of lime to purchase, default to pickling lime that is clearly labeled as a food-grade product.
Understanding the Difference of Preservation Mediums
Preserving Eggs in Lime Solution: Uses a food-safe product commonly known as pickling lime. It is composed of calcium, hydroxide.
Water glassing: Uses sodium silicate solution. This product is marketed for preserving eggs, but it is commonly used to seal concrete.
Types of Eggs
Be sure to use only clean, unwashed, unrefrigerated, fresh farm eggs when preserving eggs in a lime solution. Eggs have a natural bloom that covers the egg and seals the shell from any contaminants from the outside. This protective layer also protects the unwashed eggs from leaching the lime solution into the egg when submerged. While it’s not toxic, the idea is to preserve the eggs as close to fresh as we can.
Select the cleanest eggs you have. It’s ok to use a dry clean towel to wipe off any dirt that is easily brushed off. Dirty eggs should be reserved for fresh use only. Duck eggs are often a muddy mess and are not recommended for this preservation method. Turkey eggs tend to have sand embedded in the bloom since turkeys lay their eggs on the ground rather than in a nest. I think it would be more difficult to find clean turkey eggs for this preservation method.
If you buy eggs from a family farm, check with the proprietor to see if they wash their eggs. People are used to eggs being cleaner than you might find fresh out of the chicken coop, therefore some family farms wash their eggs. It’s important to note that store-bought eggs should never be used for this preservation method. Grocery store eggs are washed before being sold.
Egg Storage Container
The container for lime solution egg preservation needs be an airtight container with a cover that prevents evaporation. Many homestead families use 3- or 5-gallon food-grade buckets with a cover. A three-gallon bucket can hold about 80 eggs and a five-gallon bucket can hold over 150 eggs! For the sake of this experiment, I am using a gallon glass jar, this allows us to clearly see the eggs. It can hold about 3 dozen eggs. Unfortunately, I got a little overzealous with the fluid level and I think that I will fill the jar with a lime solution before I fill it with eggs in the future. Some homesteaders also use crocks with a lid, like a fermentation crock.
The Lime Water Solution
The mixture is 1 ounce of pickling lime to 1 quart of distilled water or natural spring water. If your water is high in mineral content or added chlorine you should purchase water for the solution. If your water has fluoride added, you can still use this, but boil it and allow it to cool before adding the pickling lime.
Basic Lime Solution
1-ounce pickling lime to a quart of water. Multiply as needed to ensure that the eggs are completely submerged in the lime solution.
We have well water and a filtration system. Our tap water does have higher mineral content, so I am taking this into consideration. Keep in mind, that I am conducting an experiment here, and I want to see how this works, if I have any problems, then that will be a variable that I will want to retest.
I’m using a one-gallon glass jar with a lid. I added 3 quarts of water and 3 ounces of pickling lime. As soon as I added that third quart, I realized I should have done less solution. I recommend starting with 2 quarts of water and 2 ounces of pickling lime to start. It appears that the jar will be full of solution before I have it full of eggs. I was trying to start slow, and the jar filled quickly. Add more solution as needed to submerge the eggs in a lime solution.
The pickling lime is stirred until dissolved. It is important to note that the solution will settle and there will be lime sentiment at the bottom of the jar. It’s surprising how much sentiment is at the bottom of the jars. I did give it an additional stir after the eggs were added, but that created a tornado of eggs swirling in the jar. I opted to leave it as is before I contaminated my experiment!
Once the eggs are added, seal the airtight container with a cover to prevent evaporation. The jar needs to be stored in a dry, cool place. No need for refrigeration!
Placing the Eggs
Place the eggs in the jar pointy side down if possible. This allows the egg sac found in the large end of the egg to remain at the top. I am finding this challenging, so I will do the best that I can.
See the Entire Year Long Experiment
You can find more video tutorials on our Youtube Channel
What’s Next? Using Preserved Eggs
When an egg is needed, simply remove it from the solution, rinse with water, and use it as normal. It’s best to use a slotted spoon to remove the egg rather than submerging your hand in the solution. While picking lime is safe for consumption, you may find it irritating to your skin. The best thing about this egg preservation method is that eggs can be used like fresh eggs.
Eggs preserved in lime water solution can be preserved for up to 2 years. However, I found the egg quality to drastically reduce after the 9 month mark. Keep reading to get the complete details on my year long experiment.
- 1 quart of distilled or spring water
- 1 ounce pickling lime
- unwashed, clean, farm fresh eggs
- Choose an airtight storage container with a cover for long-term storage of eggs.
- Mix a solution of 1-quart water with 1 ounce of pickling lime. Multiply as needed to fill the jar approximately halfway.
- Stir the pickling lime until dissolved.
- Add clean, unwashed eggs with the point down.
- Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years.
- To use eggs, remove eggs from the solution using a slotted spoon. Rinse well and use eggs normally.
For the gallon jar, I recommend 2 quarts of water mixed with 2 ounces of pickling lime. My jar was overly full with 3 quarts of water. If additional solution is needed, it can be added at the end.
Some homesteaders recommend adding eggs first and pouring the mixed solution over the top. I was unable to do this because I added the eggs slowly over time.
While the eggs can be preserved for up to 2 years, I found the quality of the eggs did not meet my expectations after 9 months. See the full post and video updates to get all the details.
Did you make this recipe?
Mention us @kowalski.mountain or tag us using #kowalskimountain so we can see your egg preservation projects! You can also leave a comment below!
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Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime
Pickling lime is the household name used to preserve eggs with this method. It is food safe!
Gallon Size Jars
These gallon-size jars are perfect for preserving eggs. The tight-fitting lid makes them airtight to properly store preserved eggs. The clear glass makes it easy to spot-check anytime you are in the pantry.
Follow Me to See How the Experiment Goes
I’ve created quarterly update videos throughout the entire first year of the experiment. See the full experiment and the humble beginning of our YouTube channel. Witness for yourself how these eggs cook up using the lime solution preservation method.
See the Quarterly Updates:
As a whole, I have loved this experiment! In the beginning, I was a little hesitant that this was a viable method of egg preservation, but with an open mind, I gave it a try. Right up to the 9-month mark, I felt that this was an excellent way to preserve eggs for long-term storage. However, this last group of eggs at the 13-month mark has not met my expectations. Off camera, I have been using the eggs in the jar. Repeatedly, the egg yolks break, no matter how careful I try to be. While I know this isn’t a deal-breaking occurrence, I find it disappointing, especially if you want to cook soft-cooked eggs.
The egg whites are much less firm, very fluid, and spread all over the pan. If I want to make scrambled eggs there are several other preservation methods that work well for this, freeze-drying, and freezing eggs are a few good options. The goal of this experiment is to preserve eggs that can be used just like fresh eggs and at the 13-month point, the eggs are not meeting that expectation.
I had several eggs at the bottom of the jar the eggshell was cracked. I do move my jar frequently, in and out of the RV. The eggs on the bottom were experiencing the pressure of all the eggs on top. I’m not completely surprised they might break. The shells do soften somewhat over time. Not moving the jar as frequently may help with that problem.
Will I Do It Again?
Absolutely! This has been a very successful experiment! My goal is to have enough eggs to last through the winter months when the chicken’s egg production is lower. Winter in Kentucky is only a few months. During the spring and summer, when we have an overabundance of eggs, my goal will be to preserve enough eggs for just 6 months’ time. Preserving eggs in lime solution will enable us to have farm fresh eggs all year long, no matter how well the chickens lay during the winter months.
I encourage you to try it! Leave a comment and let me know your experience!
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.