I've tried several of the time honored methods of preserving eggs, but one of the most successful is the use of Hydrated Lime. The hydrated lime is a natural product, mined from limestone, burned, then rehydrated. Pickling lime that you may use in canning, is the same as hydrated lime, however it's sold in small packages in the canning section of variety stores or grocery markets. You can purchase larger quantities at your feed store, or big box stores. It's used for many things in gardening and farming, and we use it here at JFA under the litter to keep odors, flies and parasites under control. Hydrated lime is readily available and is used in many food products and used in the fruit and vegetable packing houses to keep produce fresh. Note, that you should be using food grade hydrated lime, hence the pickling lime.
I wish to make a note here, that some are under the erroneous belief that Waterglass and Hydrated Lime are essentially the same thing. They are NOT the same thing, however they are used in similar ways in food preservation and food production. Hydrated lime is Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime or Pickling lime), while Waterglass is Sodium silicate or also known as Liquid Glass.
The important thing to know is that if you are looking for the lime in your area, to make certain the label reads Hydrated Lime. There are other types of lime used in Industrial and housing industries and that is not the type of lime you want to be using.
If you are off grid, or want eggs during the winter months either method works well for preserving when the ladies are in full production so you have eggs at a later date, especially around the holidays when you may need eggs for baking and nary a chicken is laying.
There are two different methods for preserving eggs with the hydrated lime. One is to make a water soluble brine, and the other is to use the dry lime. Both are about equally successful and it's a matter of what is most convenient for you. For purpose of demonstration, I show both methods, but using the lime dry is a little more convenient for me. You will be able to preserve more eggs using the lime brine method and in fact use less of the lime for preserving. So, convenience and dollars and sense may be your ultimate guide to the method of choice.
IMPORTANT: Only fresh, clean, dry, UNWASHED eggs should be used for preserving by either of the below methods. The eggs must still have the *bloom*; that protective layer that the hen adds just prior to laying. This bloom protects the egg shell from penetration. The older the eggs, or any washed eggs, will cause the pores of the egg to be open, allowing bacteria to enter, leading to failure of preservation by either of the below methods.
What you need:
Hydrated Lime (or Pickling Lime) (Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime)
Stone Crock* (Food grade plastic bucket or non corrosive container with lid or cover)
Fresh, Clean, dry, unwashed eggs (unwashed farm eggs, not commercial that have to be washed and treated for consumer purchase, by USDA law)
Directions for using Dry Lime:
Pour a layer of the lime in the bottom of a crock or other container. Lay the clean, unwashed eggs on this layer, then cover with more lime. Continue to layer until your container is full and completely covered with the lime. Place a lid on the container and keep in a moderately cool location. 50-55 degrees is ideal, but the temperature can very higher or lower by a few degrees. The pantry or basement is a good location. Make sure to label with date the preserving started and mark your calendar, so you don't tend to forget, especially if the container is in an out of the way place that can be overlooked. NOTE: Though my photos do not show it, layer the eggs with the small end down, so the yolk remains in the center and the air sac at the large end. Continue to layer in this manner, covering each layer with the lime.
You can leave the eggs in the lime for 6-8 months, however in old texts, it was reported that the eggs would keep 18 months to 2 years in this lime bed. In ancient China, and in fact today, the Hundred year eggs are made by embedding the eggs in a lime-clay slurry. This method was discovered purely by accident, when some eggs were found in a lime and clay deposit, and the eggs were still edible. I must say I have seen those *edible* eggs, and the dark green to black yolk is not too appealing, however in the Chinese culture they are a delicacy and quite revered. I'm just not so sure why anyone that came across those eggs even wanted to taste them, however if it was the difference between starvation and aesthetics, I should imagine eating those was the best option. But I digress, it is in their culture and that is to be respected. We won't keep the eggs for as long as the Chinese do, so no worries, the eggs should look as fresh as the day they were collected.
Directions for using Hydrated Lime Brine:
Mix water with the lime. The water should sit 24 hours before use to dissipate any chlorine or fluoride, or use filtered or bottled water. Well water is fine to use, but again you may wish to allow it to sit 24 hours, city water should sit 24 hours.
The common ratio of water to lime is 1 cup water (8 oz.) to 1 oz. Lime. You may need a kitchen scale for accurate measure of the lime. 1 oz. is about 6 teaspoons of the lime.
Mix the lime and water thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Carefully place the clean, unwashed eggs in the brine solution, until the container is full, or you can just add to this solution as you have the eggs to add, until the container is full. Label the container and place a lid on it. Periodically check to make sure the brine has not evaporated and left eggs exposed. The eggs need to be covered with the brine at all times. Mark your calendar to make sure you don't forget the eggs, especially if they are located in an out of the way place. Check at 6-8 months, and the eggs according to research have been known to keep in the brine for 18 months to 2 years.
Ready to use: When you are ready to use the eggs, remove just what you need and keep the remaining eggs covered, whether using the dry or liquid brine method.
Caution: If using a crock, do not use a vintage one. Though they were typically salt glazed inside and out, there is a good likelihood that there was lead content; that lead can leach out of the interior glaze. I would advise using modern made crocks that are made without any lead in the glaze or in the stoneware. Vintage crocks are great for display, however not the best choice for food preservation. Lead was used well into the 20th century, so I would be cautious and use a crock that was made after 1960 or 1970, when research proved that lead was detrimental and was no longer legal to use in glass, glazes or paints. Be very cautious of any made in foreign countries that may not adhere to our regulations in this country.
For additional ways to preserve eggs, refer to the link:
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