Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rerun: Freezing Eggs

I got several requests for information about freezing eggs. So I'm running this oldie again. You can use this method whenever you need to deal with a glut of eggs, as I do at the moment. Or you can use it to prepare for a hiatus in egg laying from your own hens due to summer heat, winter dark, or moulting. Enjoy!

I've mentioned before that we got four older laying hens this past spring. They still turn out eggs like champs, despite the summer heat and their ages. I get more than enough eggs for us to eat. So I sell a dozen now and then to friends or family. Even so, I can still end up with surplus eggs on my hands. So, knowing that we're going to cash in these hens this winter, I've started preserving some eggs.

The classic reference for preserving all kinds of food, Stocking Up, gives very simple instructions on freezing eggs. Just add 1 teaspoon of table salt or honey for every cup of eggs and beat them really well. After that, I use my ice cube tray trick, ladling the salted beaten egg into the ice cube trays and freezing them. Oh, but before I do that, I spray the tray with baking spray oil. That helps the eggs come out of the tray much more easily once they're frozen. Each compartment of the tray happens to hold two tablespoons, which is equivalent to half an extra-large egg. So for any recipe that calls for an egg, I can just use two frozen cubes. Removed from the trays, these eggs will keep for up to six months in a ziploc bag in the freezer.

I probably won't be using these for scrambled eggs. But I will use them up in my baking projects, which always pick up in the wintertime. It's nice to run the oven then, and it's not self-defeating to warm up the house a bit. I like to stock my freezer full of a variety of breakfast muffins over the winter. And I'm planning to learn how to make panettone later this year too (with a view towards holiday decadence as well as gift-giving), so the stored eggs will come in very handy.

I know we're going to miss the fresh eggs when the girls stop laying. It will be very galling to have to go to the store and actually buy eggs. Having a supply of our home produced eggs for baking will take some of the sting out of it for us, I hope.

Of course, I could also store away some prepared foods that include eggs. I may well get around to making some quiche to freeze. Another possibility for when our potatoes finally come in is to make gnocchi with egg and then freeze the gnocchi. The gnocchi would store longer than the quiche, which should only be kept for a couple of months. But gnocchi are quite labor intensive to produce, so I'll have to see what other chores are on the horizon when the potatoes are ready for harvest.

In any case, now that I know the frozen egg trick, I'll never leave eggs in the refrigerator before setting off on a longish trip.


martine frampton said...

very interesting stuff, but that sounds like a *huge* amount of salt, would you really use them for baking with so much salt, would it not affect whatever you cook? Just my initial reaction. Why the salt, what does it do?
thanks for sharing

hickchick said...

I am also curious about the salt/honey. We froze eggs last fall (sans salt) and they certainly passed my picky kid test in scrambled eggs! Perhaps they have a longer freezer 'shelf life' with the salt/honey?

Kate said...

Stocking Up recommends the addition of 1 teaspoon of salt or honey so that the eggs don't "become hard and pasty after thawing."

Martine, I do usually adjust the salt a little bit when baking with these eggs. If the salt concerns you, you could always go with the honey instead.

Hickchick, I don't really know if the added salt or honey prolong shelf life in the freezer. It just says 6 months if "properly stored" and then they outline this method. The same method can be used to store yolks or whites separately, by the way.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Thank you for sharing, as I would have just shelled them and froze them whole ;)
I made gnochi this summer and I didn't find to labor intensive, but then again we didn't shape them (just cut them into squares) and my DH and BIL peeled the potatoes and ran them through the food mill (suddenly its sounding like more work)!

Anyways you say you are going to cash in on your laying hens? Does that mean they are coming to the dinner table?
Can you tell me the diff between a laying hen and a meat hen?

Jason said...

I have been taking my excess eggs and pouring them into freezer/ziplock bags and laying them flat in the freezer until they are frozen. Then I put them in the deepfreezer basket standing up like books on a shelf and man it holds a lot....

Dunappy said...

My preserving book says you can use sugar, Salt or Corn syrup. To prevent the graininess in the yolks. If you separate the yolks from the white, you can freeze the whites without any additives.

Sassily Yours... said...

OMG I heart you! I do this same stuff and the King gets all pissy with me, claiming he won't eat them etc...
Then, I bake with them and his mouth is so busy eating, it doesn't speak.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog from a link on another blog, and I've really enjoyed reading some of your old posts.

I live in a small village in the UK and am slowly steering my family (DH and 3 primary school aged children) towards a more frugal life! We have a dozen laying chickens, 4 ducks (I think I may love these more than my hens!)and bees are on my wish list for this year.

We have an allotment as our garden isn't big enough for a vegetable patch (well, not with the working micro farm in it anyway...). Not sure if you have anything like this in the US. It's a large patch of land on the edge of the village, and we pay a small amount of rent for our piece.Like your mobile hens, our chickens have had day trips to our allotment to 'help' weed and eat slugs! I am a constant source of amusement to my fellow allotmenteers...

Anyway, sorry for the long post! I was only going to say when I freeze my eggs I add a pinch of salt to each egg and freeze them either in 2's or 4's or in ice cube trays like you. I then don't add extra salt when baking. Works for me.

Thanks for a great blog,

craftycountrymomma said...

I have heard of people doing that but I havn`t tried it, I need to we get 7 eggs a day and no one around like fresh eggs so I will give this a try, it can`t hurt anything except a few eggs. than you for the tips.

Kate said...

THM, this post was a rerun, so the reference to the hens is a bit old. We did slaughter the hens and made them into stock. We're now on our third batch of layers. There might still be a bit of the second batch in canning jars on the pantry shelf.

The difference between a layer and a meat bird is right there in the nomenclature. Meat birds will never make great layers. Layers never produce great meat in either quantity or quality.

There are "dual-purpose" breeds that do a bit of both eggs and meat. But they can't do either of them as well as a designated layer or meat bird. If you can have a large flock you might get enough eggs from dual-purpose birds to keep you satisfied, especially knowing that they'll eventually put meat on the table. But those of us with limited space usually opt for one or the other.

Jason, I use that method with some things, such as pesto. But I find I like to be able to reach in and grab units that add up to a certain number of eggs. So the ice cube tray works for me.

Hazel, thanks for stopping by. It sounds like you are on a wonderful journey towards frugality and self-reliance. If you have a blog of your own, please link it here.

CCM, you're quite welcome. What have you been doing up till now with all the extra eggs? Surely you know someone who would be happy to buy a dozen now and then?

Sue said...

Hi Kate,
thanks heaps for this idea. I have way too many eggs and really want to store for when my chookies are not so productive.

Kate said...

Sue, you're quite welcome. Always nice to hear from another chicken-keeper!