How to Make Pickled Eggs and Other Great Ways to Preserve Eggs

From Easy Pickled Egg Recipes to Freezing Egg Whites, Preserving Eggs is Easy!

Pickled Eggs

By Janice Cole – I encountered many surprises when I first started raising backyard chickens, but one I hadn’t expected was the uneven cycle of egg production. There are periods of abundance when the entire flock is laying daily and trying to use the nesting boxes at the same time, offset by times of scarcity when, due to chicken molting, stress, heat, thunderstorms, lack of daylight, or perhaps apathy, few or no eggs appear. If you want to plan ahead for some future shortage, and whether you have a couple of extra eggs you’d like to hold on to or dozens of eggs you’d like to preserve, there are several egg preservation methods from which to choose, including learning how to make pickled eggs.

Food Safety

Eggs are fragile and can be harbingers of bacteria, therefore before you proceed it is imperative that you investigate egg preservation techniques with regard to food safety. Preserve only fresh, blemish-free eggs without cracks, dirt or soiling on the shell. Carefully wash hands, surfaces and any equipment before handling eggs for storage. Do not store preserved eggs at room temperature as any potential bacteria can multiply rapidly at normal room temperatures. Old-time methods of egg preservation in sawdust, sand, lard, and waterglass (sodium silicate) may sound appealing, but the final results are less than appetizing and often dangerous. They have been shown to be much less effective than simple refrigeration or freezing techniques.

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Refrigeration

The best method of preserving whole shell-on eggs is refrigeration (35ºF to 40ºF) in a well-sealed container. According to the USDA, shell-on eggs can be stored for up to two months in the refrigerator; however, tests have shown most ultra-fresh homegrown eggs carefully refrigerated will last much longer, even up to five months. Store unwashed eggs towards the bottom of the refrigerator away from the door to avoid the warm air from frequent openings and closings. Storing eggs in a second refrigerator that is less likely to be opened often will prolong their storage life.

Once removed from their shells, eggs have a shorter storage life in the refrigerator. Whole eggs without a shell, egg whites and egg yolks can only be refrigerated for up to four days in a sealed container. Cover egg yolks with water before storing to avoid hardening of the yolk. Pour off the water before using the egg yolks. Hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated up to one week.

freezing-egg-whites

How to Make Pickled Eggs

Pickled eggs are an old-time technique for preserving hard-cooked eggs in a vinegar brine solution. Learning how to make pickled eggs is making a comeback due to the increased use of pickled condiments in restaurants and interest in easy home-pickling. Note that pickled eggs should never be stored at room temperature. Botulism has been found in home-canned pickled eggs stored at room temperature. Make sure all of your equipment and hands are thoroughly cleansed and the pickling jars are sterilized. Pickled eggs should be stored in the refrigerator. It is not recommended that pickled eggs be canned.

You can learn how to make pickled eggs with a variety of seasonings and vinegar for different flavor profiles. The smaller the egg, the quicker the pickling solution will flavor the egg. Quail eggs are fun to pickle, as are bantam and pullet eggs. Serve as slices or wedges on salads, accompanying cheese for appetizers, or enjoy the traditional way with a mug of beer.

Note: The USDA states pickled eggs be kept in the refrigerator a maximum of seven days. The National Center for Home Food Preservation suggests they can be refrigerated for up to three months.

Tarragon-Dill Pickled Eggs

Ingredients:

how-to-make-pickled-eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 sprigs fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt (do not use iodized table salt)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Arrange eggs, onion, garlic, tarragon, dill, and peppercorns in a sterilized 1-pint glass mason jar. Bring all remaining ingredients to a boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat; pour the hot liquid over eggs, making sure eggs are completely covered. Cover and immediately refrigerate. Let stand three days before using.

Red Wine Vinegar and Sage Pickled Eggs

Ingredients:

how-to-make-pickled-eggs

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
2 sprigs fresh sage
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons sea salt, kosher salt or pickling salt (do not use iodized table salt)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Arrange eggs, sage, shallot, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, black peppercorns and cloves in sterilized 1-pint glass mason jar. Bring all remaining ingredients to a boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat; pour the hot liquid over eggs, making sure eggs are completely covered. Cover and immediately refrigerate. Let stand 3 days before using.

Freezing

Freezing is an efficient method of long-term storage. Do not freeze whole eggs in the shell as the shell may burst due to expansion during freezing. To freeze whole eggs, whisk the eggs together until blended. Freeze in airtight containers or, to save space, freeze in small snack-size or quart-size resealable plastic bags and lay flat in the freezer until frozen. The bags can then be stacked until needed. Eggs can also be frozen in ice cube containers then popped out and placed in resealable plastic bags for later use. When using frozen-thawed eggs, three tablespoons beaten egg equals one whole egg.

If you are planning on freezing egg whites, you should know they can be stored in the freezer for up to one year. Store in airtight containers, resealable plastic bags or ice cube trays. One egg white equals two tablespoons. Egg yolks become gelatinous during freezing and impossible to use in recipes unless sugar or salt is beaten into them. To freeze, beat four egg yolks with 1/8 teaspoon salt or sugar, depending on the type of recipe you will be using, and freeze in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Label with the number of egg yolks and whether they are beaten with salt or sugar. Hard-cooked eggs should not be frozen as they become rubbery.

Honey-Blueberry Corn Muffins

(Using frozen eggs)

corn-muffin-recipe

1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
6 tablespoons frozen-thawed eggs (or 2 fresh eggs)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fresh blueberries or 1/2 cup dried
sparkling sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 400ºF. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Whisk milk, honey, eggs, butter and vanilla in small bowl. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients; whisk until blended. Stir in blueberries. Spoon into muffin cups; sprinkle with sparkling sugar.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 16 muffins.

Dehydrating

dehydrating-eggs-for-long-term-storage

Cooked eggs can be dehydrated, but should not be used in recipes calling for fresh eggs. They will work in pancake or casserole recipes.

It’s tempting to assume that because powdered eggs are available commercially, do-it-yourselfers can easily make their own at home with excess eggs. The problem is, commercially prepared eggs are made using specialized high heat mist-drying equipment instantly producing a fine powder. This equipment is not available to consumers and it’s virtually impossible to produce the same fine powdered safely dried eggs using a simple home dehydrator.

Raw eggs prepared in a home dehydrator are not subjected to the minimum high heat (160ºF) necessary for bacteria to be destroyed during the 9 – 12 hour process and are therefore not recommended. According to a food scientist I spoke with, it’s necessary to cook eggs to 160ºF or higher before dehydrating. Once cooked, the eggs must be carefully handled to avoid any cross-contamination before or during the drying process.

Even though eggs can be dehydrated, there is a quality issue. The dried eggs cannot be reconstituted back into scrambled eggs or substituted for fresh eggs in most recipes. They can be used in recipes where the eggs are not providing the full leavening such as pancakes, cookies, and casseroles. Or, give your birds an extra dose of protein by sprinkling some of the egg powder over their feed.

If you do decide to dehydrate eggs, begin by beating the eggs (without any added water or moisture) until totally smooth. Cook the eggs in a plain nonstick skillet (without any oil) until thoroughly cooked and very dry, not moist. To dry effectively, the eggs should be in small flat pieces, not large lumps. Spread them evenly on the dehydrating trays and dehydrate at the highest setting for 9 to 12 hours or until dry and brittle. Place in a food processor and process until finely ground. Store in an airtight container for 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 1 year. Use about 1/2 tablespoons dry egg powder and 1/2 tablespoons water for each egg.

Janice Cole is the author of Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes (Chronicle Books, 2011). For recipes and more information about her birds visit her blog.

Originally published in Backyard Poultry October/November 2012 and regularly vetted for accuracy.

 

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