Spring and summer time means more daylight hours, and that means more eggs. If you have an overabundance to handle, water-glassing eggs is the perfect solution for the fall and winter months.
Do you have a surplus of eggs? One issue chicken owners run into is unequal egg production. In the spring and summer months, you swim in eggs. I know my countertops are always full with extra eggs, but in the winter months, it’s famine time for eggs. Your chickens stop laying, but if you want to keep those farm-fresh eggs for the colder months, you must learn about water-glassing eggs.
Water-glassing eggs is a simple and effective way to preserve eggs for long periods of time without refrigeration. This technique has been used for hundreds of years, and it involves storing eggs in a solution of lime water (or sodium silicate) that creates a protective coating around the eggshell. This coating seals the egg and prevents bacteria from entering, which helps to extend the shelf life of the eggs.
One of my favorite reasons for learning how to water glass is the overall simplicity. There are only a few steps, and one of them is gathering the eggs. Otherwise, you need lime water created from hydrated (or pickling) lime, clean eggs, water, and a container.
I use large glass jars – wide mouth work best! – but food-grade buckets are sufficient as well.
So, let’s dive into everything you need to know about water-glassed eggs.
Related: 13 Easy Ways to Preserve Eggs Safely
Why Preserve Eggs?
Despite grocery stores having shelves full of eggs all year-round, the truth is that eggs are seasonal food. Chickens naturally slow their egg production as the daylight hours decrease in wintertime. Hens generally need 12-14 hours of daylight to lay a single egg, and they receive far less in the winter.
Some people prefer using artificial lighting in their chicken coop to keep up their egg production, but we have chosen not to do so on our homestead. Chickens naturally have a decrease in egg production; they are designed this way to give their bodies a break. Chickens, like humans, have a finite amount of eggs they produce in their lifetime. If you force them to lay more in the winter, they’ll stop laying entirely sooner.
We prefer to let them have this time of rest and work on egg preservation methods for the other months of the year.
Why Should You Water Glass Eggs?
Water glassing is a traditional method of preserving eggs that has been used for centuries. It involves storing eggs in a solution made of lime and water, which creates a protective coating around the eggshell.
This coating helps to prevent air and bacteria from entering the egg, which can cause it to spoil. Freshly laid eggs have a natural coating on their egg shells called a bloom. That’s how mother hens are able to sit on eggs and hatch babies; the coating prevents bacteria from reaching the yolk.
Benefits of Water Glassing
There are several benefits to water glassing eggs:
- Long Shelf Life: Water glassing can extend the shelf life of eggs for up to 9 months, which is much longer than the typical 4-5 weeks that fresh eggs last.
- Cost Effective: Water glassing is a cost-effective way to preserve eggs, as it requires only a few inexpensive ingredients and can be done at home.
- Sustainable: Water glassing is a sustainable way to preserve eggs, as it does not require refrigeration or other energy-intensive methods of preservation.
- Convenient: Water glassed eggs can be stored at room temperature, which makes them convenient for use in recipes at any time.
Overall, water glassing eggs is a simple and effective way to preserve eggs for long periods of time. By using this method, individuals can save money, reduce food waste, and have a convenient source of eggs on hand at all times.
How to Water Glass Eggs: Step-by-Step
If you’re ready to get started, here are the easy steps to water glass eggs. It’s one of the easiest food preservation methods I have tried yet!
1. Gathering Supplies
Before starting to water glass eggs, it is important to gather all the necessary supplies. These include:
- Hydrated Lime (known as pickling lime or slaked lime)
- Water (filtered or distilled works, especially if you are on city water)
- A food-grade storage container
- Kitchen scale
Hydrated lime and pickling lime are the same thing. You can find pickling lime in your local grocery store in the canning section.
You have a lot of options when it comes to a storage container for eggs. If you can find half gallon jars, those work great. I’ve found a half-gallon jar typically holds around 16 to 18 eggs.
If you can find one-gallon glass jars, that would work too, but they are harder to find, and it might be hard to reach the bottom of the container without cracking an egg.
Instead of a five-gallon bucket, we used a three-gallon bucket. If you go to local grocery stores with bakeries, they often give away food-grade buckets for free that they receive their icing inside of. Just ask!
You may notice, when looking up instructions for water-glassing eggs, that some use sodium silicate; this is an effective method as well. However, lime is more easily accessible and yields the same results.
What is Hydrated Lime?
If you’re like me, you wonder what the heck these ingredients are, even when preserving food at home.
Hydrated lime is not to fear. It is a combination of oyster shells, bones, and limestone, burned inside a kiln and hydrated with water. Despite the name and look, it is natural and safe to use.
2. Gather Your Eggs
You don’t need to have all the eggs you want to water glass ready immediately. It’s safe to keep adding more to the container as your chickens lay the eggs.
You want only to use the cleanest, freshest eggs possible. If the egg is dirty, avoid using any water to clean the egg. If it doesn’t come off with a dry paper towel, I won’t use it for water-glassing eggs.
3. Making the Solution
To make the water glass solution, follow these steps:
- Measure out your water and lime. You want to have enough water in the container to submerge the eggs entirely, but you don’t want to overflow the glass jar or container.
- Using the kitchen scale, measure the lime-to-water ratio. You need one ounce of pickling lime for every quart of water you use. This ratio is the same, no matter the size container used.
- After adding the lime to the clean water, whisk until dissolved entirely. The water looks milky white, but this is normal. It’s also normal for the lime to settle at the bottom of the jars.
- Water Glassing Eggs
4. Placing Eggs in the Solution
When water-glassing eggs, it is important to start with clean, uncracked eggs.
All eggs have to be submerged under the surface of the lime water. Many people recommend putting the eggs into the jar with the pointed ends down because there is an air pocket in each egg. I have yet to find a difference based on how I place the eggs.
Storing Water Glassed Eggs
Once the eggs have been submerged in the solution, they can be stored in a cool, dark place. The ideal temperature for storing water-glassed eggs is between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The eggs can be stored for several months, depending on the freshness of the eggs and the strength of the solution.
I typically store my eggs in my basement, which is cooler than the rest of the house, especially in the winter.
When it is time to use the eggs, remove them from the solution and rinse them thoroughly with water. The eggs can then be used in any recipe that calls for eggs, but it is important to note that the egg whites may not whip up as well as fresh eggs.
Using Water Glassed Eggs
One of my favorite reasons for preserving eggs in this manner is that they can be used similarly to fresh eggs. You need to clean the eggs, removing all the lime from the shells, before cooking.
If your eggs have been in the lime solution for less than a year, it’s safe to use them for scrambling, frying, and other methods, similar to fresh eggs. The egg whites won’t whip the same, so don’t try to make a meringue with them!
However, if the eggs have been in the solution for more than a year, the eggs may have absorbed some more of the lime flavor. They are often better suited for baking since they aren’t as fluffy.
Realize that these eggs may not taste exactly like a fresh egg. Given the fact that they may be months old, I simply appreciate the fact that I don’t have to run to the store for eggs!
Here are some things to consider when using water-glassed eggs.
- Always crack the eggs in a separate bowl to check for any odd smells. You might not have noticed an egg crack in the shell, but you will notice the egg is strange if you open it separately before using it in your recipe.
- If you try hard-boiling these eggs, make a small hole in the shell if you use calcium hydroxide. This solution causes the pores to seal up, and eggs could explode during boiling.
FAQs about Water Glassing Eggs
Can You Water Glass Store-Bought Eggs?
You may be tempted to use store-bought eggs, but I encourage you not to do so. It’s essential to use unwashed, farm-fresh eggs, and only the cleanest eggs possible.
Store-bought eggs are washed and sent through a pasteurization process, which destroys the egg’s natural bloom coating. The bloom is essential to prevent bacteria from absorbing into the eggs. Since eggs from the store are cleaned, it’s not safe for you to use them for long-term storage.
Are Water Glass Eggs Safe to Eat?
In general, this is considered a safe way to preserve eggs for the long term. As long as you follow the recommended steps, using the right ratio of water and pickling lime, and use clean eggs, everything should be fine.
However, if you are a rule follower, you should know the only recognized FDA method of preserving eggs is freezing them. At the time of writing this, they don’t even recognize things such as freeze-drying or dehydrating. So, if you only follow FDA guidelines, water-glassing won’t be something you want to try.
How Long Do Water Glass Eggs Last?
Water glass eggs can last for a very long time if stored properly. The shelf life of water glass eggs depends on various factors such as the quality of the eggs, the concentration of the solution, and the storage conditions.
When stored in a cool, dry place, water glass eggs can last up to two years or even longer. However, it is important to note that the longer the eggs are stored, the more likely they are to lose their quality.
It is recommended to check the water glass eggs periodically to ensure they are still good. To do this, crack open a few eggs and check for any signs of spoilage, such as a foul odor or unusual color. If any of the eggs are spoiled, it is best to dispose of the entire batch.
Is It Normal for the Lime to Settle on the Bottom of the Container?
One of the first concerns I had when I tried water glassing eggs for the first time was the lime settling at the bottom. Settling lime is normal, and while you may be tempted to try to mix it up, don’t!
You could accidentally crack the eggs and ruin everything, especially if you don’t notice the cracked eggs for months. Leave the settled lime alone.