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Preserving Eggs 12 Different Ways
Now that spring is on its way- bringing better weather and more light- backyard flocks are starting to increase their egg laying. If you find yourself overwhelmed with eggs, you can certainly sell them to your neighbors and try to recoup the cost of feed.
Why not preserve the spring bounty for the leaner months? After all, having these wonderfully nutritious eggs is one of the best parts of the homestead lifestyle. Just because the hens are on an egg break, doesn’t mean you need to become reliant on the grocery store again- as long as you plan ahead in the warmer months.
Eggs can be preserved in a handful of different ways, depending on what you plan to use them for later on. Some preservation methods will keep your eggs in a relatively-fresh, ready to fry by themselves state. Others will be best used as an ingredient or a snack.
I’d encourage you to give a few different egg-preservation methods a try. You may find that you have a favorite way of preserving them, or a way you thought would work for your family, doesn’t. I like to have eggs stored a few different ways at once, so that no matter what I’m trying to cook, I have options.
Without further ado, preserving eggs 12 different ways:
1- On the Counter
“Duh,” you may say.
But keeping eggs on the counter or in cartons in the pantry is an under-appreciated way to store them.
When I collect eggs every day, they simply pile up in a big old mixing bowl next to our stove. When the bowl gets filled (okay, extremely and precariously over-filled), I move the clean eggs directly into cartons & wash the dirty eggs.
Yes folks, I keep dirty unwashed eggs on the counter, up to a few weeks (or more than a month, but who’s counting?) at a time. And wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t died yet.
Anyway, the clean/unwashed eggs are counter safe for probably a few months? But our birds are productive enough that they only need to go a few weeks here before I move them into a longer form of preservation.
How do you use the eggs stored on the counter? The exact same way you’d use an egg from the fridge. Scrambled, fried, hard boiled, eaten raw- whatever.
2- Keep in the Fridge (washed or not)
Storing eggs in the fridge is another “duh” method of storage. If you’re in the United States, this is probably your default egg preservation/egg storage method.
And it is the first, slightly, longer form of egg preservation.
Whether washed or unwashed, eggs stored in cartons in the fridge will last for months. Yes, the air cells will grow. Yes, some may start to bob or float if you float test them. But unless they start having an odor, these puppies will last for months.
I’ve used eggs that were 4 or 5 months old without issue. They’re going to be totally fine for frying, scrambling, baking, etc. the exact same as eggs that had never been refrigerated.
3- “Water Glassing” Eggs (With a Lime Solution)
Online, you’ll see this method of egg-preservation referred to as “water-glassing”.
Technically it isn’t.
Water-glassing refers to a sodium silicate solution that you would submerge your eggs in. If you read a “water-glassing” tutorial online though, it will almost invariably be in reference to a pickling lime and water solution. Which is much easier to come by, and yields, apparently, the same result.***
Pickling lime is calcium hydroxide, usually used to make homemade pickles crispy, there are also agricultural and commercial applications for the stuff.
You can find pickling lime in the canning section of most stores (such as Walmart and Target) or order it online.
To preserve eggs with pickling lime, make a solution of one ounce lime to 1 quart of water.
Take your eggs (they can be washed or unwashed, and fresher is better- but older eggs will work too) and place them in a container large enough to submerge all of them. I used a 5 gallon bucket, filled about ⅓ full, to hold 6 dozen eggs. Half gallon jars, quart jars, gallon jars, and buckets are all good options.
Pour the lime-water solution into the container of eggs. Mix up enough to keep the eggs totally submerged, following the 1 ounce : 1 quart ratio.
Add the lid (and write down the date) to your container, and store somewhere cool and out of sunlight where it won’t be moved around or disturbed.
Eggs can keep in this lime water solution for 18 months or more.
The eggs are going to be pretty similar to fresh eggs, with slightly-runny yolks and whites. They work fine for scrambled eggs or as an ingredient, but you’ll probably end up with broken yolks when frying.
Find my step by step tutorial for water glassing eggs here.
***You will also probably find a lot of blogs that claim this method of preservation only works when an egg still has its bloom intact. That is to say, only super-clean unwashed eggs. I’m not sure where that rumor started, BUT you can absolutely preserve washed eggs with this method. I know because I have a whole bucket full of eggs that I set aside this way 11 months ago,; they’re still safe to eat, and every single one had been washed prior to submerging it in the lime solution.
4-Water Glassing Eggs 2.0
This is similar to storing your eggs in lime water, but rather than a lime-water solution, the eggs are submerged in a sodium silicate solution.
Sodium silicate has a lot of industrial uses, including the manufacture of cardboard, cement, fire protection, and more. According to wikipedia, it’s water soluble and forms an alkaline solution. (Which I believe to be the mechanism of preservation in regard to eggs, but I’m not a chemist)
I’ve never stored eggs in a true water glass solution like this, but I found a few tutorials online. Specifically, this Lake Country Museum article that describes how water glassing was commonplace until the 1940’s.
You can buy sodium silicate online from Lehman’s Hardware (here) or from the Chemistry Store. Given the myriad of industrial uses, I imagine a good hardware store would carry it as well.
To make a water glass solution for eggs, combine the sodium silicate and water, a 1:10 ratio according to this article. Then pour over eggs in a container (in the same way as you would to preserve them in a lime solution). Add the lid and a label, and apparently your eggs will store for a year or more.
According to the sources I’ve read, the eggs will be slightly runny, but can be used much the same way as a fresh egg, just like water glassed eggs stored in the lime solution.
5- Preserving Eggs with Mineral Oil (or butter)
Preserving eggs with mineral oil is a messy process, but a straightforward one.
Basically, you’ll take clean eggs (clean from the nest or washed) and paint mineral oil all over the surface of the eggs. Voila. You can store the eggs in a carton or another container on a shelf, no refrigeration necessary.
The mineral oil keeps oxygen from entering the pores of the shell, increasing the shelf life of the eggs in a similar way to liming and water-glassing.
If you don’t have any mineral oil, but instead have an excess of butter (is there such a thing?) you can paint your eggs in melted butter for the same effect.
(I haven’t tried it, but wax and lard will apparently work the same way.)
These oiled (or buttered) eggs can be used the same way as fresh eggs, and should last several months in a cool, dark area.
6- Freezing Whole Eggs
Freezing eggs whole, in the shell, is an extraordinarily easy way of preserving eggs.
Simply set whole, clean eggs in a freezer-safe container or ziploc bag, then place the container in the freezer.
To use the eggs, you’ll need to thaw them out ahead of time. I just place the container of eggs on the counter overnight and they’ll be ready the next morning.
You’ll find that the egg whites are largely unaffected by freezing, but the yolks will have taken on a much more dense texture.
These eggs can be scrambled up and cooked alone, but I prefer to use them as an ingredient in other recipes where the change in texture won’t be as noticeable.
Shelf life on frozen, whole eggs is a year (or more). I haven’t kept any longer than that, but I imagine as long as you can avoid freezer burn they’ll last a long time. Find my post all about freezing eggs here.
7- Freezing Raw Scrambled Eggs
Not cooked and scrambled, scrambled raw.
This is a very simple way to store eggs and yields a very versatile ingredient in the end.
To store eggs this way, simply scramble the raw eggs, as you would to cook them. You can add some salt if you want to, but I usually leave them plain.
Now pour the eggs into a ziploc bag, ice cube tray, or another freezer safe container, and then freeze.
If you’re using an ice cube tray, you can scramble the eggs one at a time, and then pour one egg into each cube. In the future, you’ll be able to pull out enough eggs for your cooking by counting out just enough cubes.
To use these eggs, pull the container of eggs (or individual egg cubes) out of the freezer and leave on the counter or in the fridge overnight.
Once thawed, use these previously-frozen scrambled eggs like any other egg. They can be cooked and scrambled on their own, added to baked goods, etc.
My post about freezing eggs also covers freezing raw eggs in depth, again you can find that here.
8- Dehydrating Eggs
This is one of the most common ways of preserving eggs around here. It’s extremely simple, and the end product is a perfect addition to our pigs’ slop or our chickens’ feed. In a pinch it can work for our own cooking too.
You’ll need a dehydrator, preferably with trays for doing fruit leather, but lining the racks with wax paper or parchment paper will work too.
To dehydrate the eggs, start by scrambling several eggs together as though you were going to cook them. No need for milk though.
Once the eggs are scrambled, pour them onto the dehydrator trays. (I can fit 7-8 eggs per tray in our dehydrator)
I set the dehydrator to 130-150F (it doesn’t seem to make too much of a difference) and let it run overnight. You’ll know they’re ready once they begin to shatter or crumble rather than bend.
Once the eggs are dehydrated, crush or blend into a fine powder or large crumbs. It may have a greasy texture, but it shouldn’t be moist.
Store the crushed/powdered eggs in a jar in the pantry, or somewhere else cool and out of the light.
To use the dehydrated eggs, combine equal parts egg with water. Let the mixture sit to absorb the water and then give it a stir. 2 T of dried egg and 2 T of water is the equivalent to one egg.
Dried eggs aren’t going to make it as a substitute for fried eggs (obviously) but I’ve used them in baking without issue.
I make up a few jars of dehydrated eggs every spring, and then mix them into milk and slop after we bring home our piglets. It’s a good way to get some extra amino acids and vitamins into their diet before they learn the wonders of eating whole eggs. Our young chickens and broilers also like the dehydrated eggs.
Find my step-by-step tutorial for dehydrating eggs here.
9- Freeze Drying Eggs
I can’t vouch for this method of preservation first hand, since I’m (impatiently) waiting for the price of freeze dryers to match our budget a little better. In the meantime, I’ve been watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts from other homesteaders who freeze dry, seemingly, everything. I’m looking forward to trying it out first hand.
Freeze drying seems to be a pretty versatile way of preserving eggs. You can process raw eggs (similar to how I dehydrate eggs) or cook scrambled eggs and then freeze dry them. (Like an MRE or Mountain House meal) In either case, the end result is a dry, shelf-stable product that can be stored in canning jars or mylar bags.
Freeze drying is widely considered to be the ultimate long-term storage option. Freeze-dried foods are commonly thought to have a shelf life of 25 years or more.
If you’re in the market for a freeze dryer, Harvest Right is currently the only name in town. You can order one here, or pick one up from Tractor Supply, Home Depot, etc.
10- Pickling Eggs
Now, technically pickling is a method of preservation. (Pickled cucumbers do last longer than fresh don’t they?) But I’ll admit that when it comes to eggs, I’m more likely to be pickling for taste than for shelf life.
I have a whole post (here) about how to pickle eggs.
The basic process is to take hard-boiled, peeled eggs and submerge them in a vinegar solution. After a few weeks they’re ready to eat, but can remain in the brine for months unharmed.
Pickled eggs are, obviously, hard-boiled, so they can’t replace fresh eggs in your cooking or baking. But they can be a great snack, an addition to a salad, or get really creative and swap the eggs in your next batch of potato salad for these.
11- Canning Eggs
Believe it or not, you CAN can eggs.
Yes, the Cooperative Extension Service says otherwise (as well as every other homestead blogger). Pickling and freezing are the only “approved” methods of long-term egg preservation.
I’m not making any promises about the safety or quality of canning eggs, I’m just simply passing along that it is possible, and it’s pretty easy. And if you’re someone who’s canning anyway, why not try this method of preserving eggs- just to see?
Load fresh, whole, raw eggs into jars. Add enough water to submerge the eggs. Load into a pressure cooker/canner. Bring up to a boil, vent for 10 minutes, add your weight, bring up to pressure for 15 minutes, turn off the stove and let it cool.
Yes, these eggs are cooked. Think hard-boiled. They can’t replace a fresh egg, but they have an extraordinarily long shelf-life, and are ready for potato salad, macaroni salad, etc.
I have also heard of canning scrambled eggs for ready-to-eat breakfasts in a jar (scramble your eggs, add any additions (salt, pepper, sausage, etc.) pour them into a pint jar leaving 1+” of headspace, process in the pressure canner for 75 minutes). The jury seems out on what kind of quality/fluffiness you can expect, but they’re shelf stable.
(For more info on canning eggs, scrambled and otherwise, or other “weird” canning recipes, I HIGHLY recommend joining Rebel Canners on Facebook. Even if you don’t follow any of the recipes, it’s a good place to get the wheels turning sound prepping, canning, homesteading, etc.)
12- Salted Yolks
I first learned about salting and curing yolks from a post on Instagram. (Written by Tara of Slowdown Farmstead, you can read her excellent writings on substack here)
The process is very simple, and the results are delicious.
Pour a bunch of salt in the bottom of a pan or tray. Make dimples, spaced an inch or so apart, with an egg or the back of a spoon, in the salt. Separate the yolk and white in the eggs you want to preserve, gently placing each unbroken yolk into a dimple in the salt. After all of the yolks are in place, pour more salt over the surface, ensuring that each yolk is completely surrounded by salt.
Leave the salt/yolk tray in the fridge or another cool location for a week or so (may be longer for larger yolks, just check on them and trust your gut).
Once the yolks are dry, rinse them under cool water to remove the excess salt. Let them dry again on a cooling rack. Store in a jar or other airtight container in the pantry.
These cured yolks are supposed to be excellent for topping pasta or chops, but honestly the last time I made them they were snacks all on their own. Whatever you decide to use them for, they’re a treat.
(You can find my step by step tutorial for salt cured egg yolks here!)
Preserving Eggs 12 Ways
So there you have it, 12 methods for preserving and storing your excess spring eggs.
Homegrown eggs are one of the best parts of living this homestead life. Having them safely preserved to use year-round is a wonderful way to be prepared, while still respecting the seasonality of the hens.
I hope you’ll give some of these egg preservation methods a try, and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading, and happy homesteading!
PS Haven’t made the leap into chickens yet? Find 10 great reasons you should, here! Ready to take the plunge, but need a source for chicks this spring? I have that here too! Homesteading in an urban environment, or on a tight budget, Coturnix quail may be just what you’re looking for. I have a simple post all about them here. Have any poultry/egg/preservation/homesteading questions? Reach out here, or find me on Instagram- @emigrantfarms.