Freezing, links, recipe and what to do with eggshells:
I see this question a lot on the internet forums. Our lovely girls are laying eggs as if there is a local competition going on…which coop can egg it the best this week – wins meal worm treats! Well my girls get treats regardless but our egg level is filling the fridge to bursting point.
So what to do with eggs apart from boiling, baking, beating into meringues and getting egg bound from too many breakfast fry-ups? Well we sort the best into recycled boxes and give to friends. It’s a real treat for them. You can’t beat fresh free-range eggs. (Excuse the pun!)
I found these recycled card egg boxes on Amazon and they are tough enough to shut firmly for transporting. Friends return them for refills, so ultra practical. But store your eggs in plastic generally. These are just for handing to friends.
The remaining eggs that we just can’t consume are frozen. So here’s the low down on storing eggs.
Here is a rather messy bowl of egg shells including my large goose eggs. Goose eggs tend to get muddy as the geese bury them. No one expects white goose eggs. We are all used to the mud.
Chicken eggs are a different matter. The supermarkets wash them. Salmonella is a risk. The bacterior is harmful to humans and raw eggs contain this bacterior. When an egg is laid, prior to laying the chicken egg will receive a coating barrier that seals the egg shell which is porous. This is known as the Bloom or cuticle. Thousands of tiny air holes perforate the egg to allow any chick embryo to breath. It allows oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. As the chick developers the bloom flakes away. Almost 17,000 pores infact cover the egg surface! Unfurtilized eggs are no different, same perforated shells but the bloom does not deteriorate. Therefore to prevent any bacterior entering the egg, ie chicken poop or external matter from earth, straw etc, the coating seals the egg surface.
Goose eggs. Golden yolks and thick whites. Perfect for baking with.
If your coop is clean and poop free, as ours is, and the chickens are healthy and able to pop an egg out easily, the eggs will be spotless. The coating will dry almost immediately and you have an egg that can stay unrefridgerated for about three months in a cool area. In the fridge we have kept eggs for over three months with no deteriation in flavour. We have noticed supermarket eggs get a far more liquid white as time goes by. Not with home laid eggs. There is absolutely no change.
But we do not wash our eggs. Sometimes eggs get muddy. If I have a day of not collecting eggs, the eggs will get muddy chicken toes on them. Sometimes a boisterous chicken breaks an egg and then all the eggs get sticky. Best to give your chickens lots of egg boxes to lay in, collect at least once a day and have plenty of straw to protect the eggs once laid.
If you wash and remove the coating from the egg, your outside fridge shelf life reduces to a week and only three weeks inside the fridge. It’s not practical.
Ideally sort eggs into clean and not so clean and store in simple plastic bowls or buckets. I reuse ones that I receive seeds and brewers yeast in. I rinse in hot water and they fit perfectly in the fridge. I keep muddy eggs on lower shelves and clean eggs above. I try to keep in some sort of date order. Very dirty eggs (rare) are scrambled (cooked) and fed back as a treat to the chickens. I give them eggs every couple of weeks to boost protein levels.
Before cracking open an egg, simply wash in warm water, pat dry and your good to go.
Do not use cold water. If you soak your eggs in cold water, the egg within shrinks back from the shell. This draws in the dirty water through the pores of the egg. Using warm water expands the egg internally and helps keep the pores from closed.
So simply dunk your egg in warm or hottish water, rub with a soft cloth to loosen any debris and pat dry. No need to scrub or you will push bacterior into the egg pores.
You can now store these eggs for a few weeks in the fridge, all clean and ready for use. If like me you store for longer, just skip the washing part till you actually need them.
So simple. Eggs left whole will crack and the contents become contaminated. The full proof method is to first wash your eggs as per above. Crack into a jug and gently stir to break the yolks and amalgamate into the white. Try not to bring too much air into the mixture as this is bacterior in effect, not sterile.
Pour into containers, seal and straight in the freezer. We try to use within 6 to 8 months of freezing. Due to some chemistry action during this time, we find that upon defrosting the mixture is creamer than freshly beaten eggs.
A good guide to the anatomy of eggs can be found here… Anatomy of an egg.
This is a coffee and almond sponge. Made from 4 goose eggs, 200 grams wholemeal flour, 5 tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of sugar, a large pinch of salt, ground coffee, almond powder, a grated carrot and half cup of carrot juice.
The ingredients are mixed and a little milk added to create a stiff batter. Poured into a greased baking tray. Flaked almonds on top for crunch. Baked for 20 minutes till golden.
We use little fat, little sugar and this makes for a low calorie cake. We eat with home made jam or honey or simply drizzle melted chocolate over if we want to be indulgent. A water icing works too. You can choose just how sweet you want to go.
Ps. Helpful comments. Ray mentioned plastic being porous. Yes. We use a food grade plastic but ideally anything non porous better. Note to self to research. There are other ways to preserve eggs, including pickling in vinegar, water-glass (an old fashion method), mineral oil, and canning.
Finally, keep your egg shells. We crush ours, wash in hot water, drain and spread out on large trays in the hot summer sun to dry, shaking occasionally and grinding the shells down even more till fine. You can dry in the oven too and you can get a grinder to turn the shells almost to powder.
I add these to the girls oyster shell mix and sprinkle in my compost and flower beds. Plants need calcium – it’s a building block for cells and adding egg shells crushed can help supplement where your soil might be low in calcium.
In the composter it’s just more organic matter but crush small as they do not decompose like vegetable matter. Snails and slugs are unaffected by the shells so that’s sort of a pointless effort sprinkling round pots.
But for extra calcium where needed, use the shells rather than throw them!