If you keep chickens, you’ll know that too many eggs can become a problem. I’ve tried various recipes to use up eggs, from making ice cream to making pasta with semolina and strong bread flour, but, I recently came across a method of preserving eggs which is tried and tested and can keep eggs fresh for up to two years.
The method is simple and requires hydrated lime and boiled water. First, though, it is necessary to explain that fresh laid, clean eggs are required. Eggs bought from a shop or eggs that have been dirtied by the chickens, are not suitable for this method. Your eggs cannot be washed prior to preserving as this will allow the lime mixture to contaminate the eggs.
You’ll need a container, such as a plastic bucket. A lid isn’t required. Use boiled water and note that hydrated lime dissolves easier in warm water, so, use boiled water that has cooled to a warm temperature. Hydrated lime is used in the building industry. It is used when mixing cement for rendering and pointing. Garden lime is NOT hydrated lime and should not be used for this method. I note that B&Q are currently selling hydrated lime for around £10 for a 25kg bag. Hydrated lime can also be used to cold pasteurise straw for use in the growing of mushrooms.
Use one pound of hydrated lime to one gallon of water. This works out at 454 grams of hydrated lime to 4.55 litres of water. Boil your water and let it cool to a warm temperature. Mix in your hydrated lime. You can use an electric whisk to help dissolve the hydrated lime fully. You can use the bucket you intend to store the eggs in, to mix the hydrated lime, if not, pour the mixture into your storage bucket. The fresh laid, clean, eggs from your own flock are simply placed into the bucket to preserve. I collect my eggs every two or three days and I would consider these to be “fresh laid”. If you are having problems with the chickens dirtying the eggs, you can try changing the straw in their laying boxes more often. Also, fresh straw in the coop helps to keep their feet clean. The preserving bucket should be kept in a cool place and out of direct sunlight.
Chickens lay eggs according to the amount of light in the day. As we approach autumn and winter, there will be fewer eggs laid. My chickens are a heritage breed, Salmon Faverolle, and they stop laying altogether in winter. So, use this method to preserve your eggs. To use the preserved eggs, take one out of the bucket, give it a quick rinse under the cold tap and use as normal. Because my chickens like to sit on the eggs they lay (broody?), before I use any egg, I always crack it into a teacup or small dish. I then check for freshness by smelling, before adding to the pan (or bowl). Broody hens can curdle the eggs if they are allowed to sit on them too long. Bad eggs at breakfast isn’t pleasant.