Preserving eggs by water glassing is a long-standing historical method that works wonderfully for long-term egg storage. When egg production is at an all-time high, it’s the perfect time to put up some of that extra bounty for when egg production is down. We’re sharing how we preserve eggs for winter using the water glassing technique.
What is Water Glassing Eggs?
Water glassing is a long-standing historical method that has been used for centuries to keep eggs fresh. It is very easy and very effective!
While there are several different water glassing mediums (the technical modern one being sodium silicate), we’re teaching you how to use the affordable, and readily available, hydrated lime method, also known as pickling lime or slacked lime.
Using this method you can easily store your eggs during the winter. In fact, you can store your eggs for up to two years without refrigeration! Sound too good to be true? Let us show you!
Why Preserve Eggs?
In the wintertime, chickens naturally slow down their egg production, and some stop laying altogether depending on where you live. As winter brings fewer hours of daylight, this is the chicken’s natural response.
Many people recommend putting in artificial lighting to keep egg production high. However, we feel that if God created chickens, ducks, guineas, and geese to naturally stop or decrease production in the winter, then this is probably the healthiest for them. So we opt to allow this natural production to happen.
For those still learning the best handling methods for farm fresh eggs, be sure to check out our post where we share all our best tips and what to do after bringing the eggs in from the hen house. (LINK)
When is the best time to preserve eggs?
Anytime! There’s really no “best time” to preserve eggs. It can be done anytime you have fresh eggs on hand. We like to preserve our eggs when we’re getting more than our family can consume in a day, which for us, is usually mid-spring once our chicken’s production has really picked up and we’re getting over two dozen eggs per day.
Ingredients Needed for Egg Preservation
- Hydrated Lime (also known as slaked lime or pickling lime)
- Room temperature water (filtered or distilled if you’re on city water)
- Food-grade storage container
You read that right, hydrated lime is the same substance known as pickling lime that you get in those super small packages (but you pay quite a high price for). I was able to buy 50 pounds of hydrated lime at our local Home Depot. This will last me YEARS of future egg preservation, so this is an extremely affordable preservation method.
If you can’t find hydrated lime locally, you can find pickling lime here.
What is Hydrated Lime?
Hydrated lime is usually a combination of oyster shells, bones, and limestone that have been burnt in a kiln, then hydrated with water. That’s it! It’s a very natural product, it’s not synthetic, and it’s completely safe to use.
Do note that hydrated lime will be very different than the lime you’d find in your agricultural section at the local hardware store, so be sure you’re sourcing the correct product.
How to Water Glass Eggs
How to Water Glass Eggs
- 5-gallon food-grade bucket
- 8 oz Hydrated Lime
- 8 quarts Filtered Water
- Fresh Eggs
- Start off with a clean vessel to store your eggs. Depending on how many eggs you want to preserve will determine the size of your container. I’m starting with a 5-gallon food-grade bucket, but over the course of the summer, I’ll likely fill two or three of these buckets.
- Next, add enough water to your container that your eggs will be completely submerged, but not so much that the water will overflow.
- Measure out your water and lime. The ratio of water to lime is for every one quart of water you’ll use 1 ounce of lime. No matter what size container you’re using, this is the ratio to follow.
- Add the lime to your clean water and whisk until completely dissolved. The water will look milky white.
- Next, gently add your unwashed fresh eggs.
- When you get to the point that you can start positioning eggs, be sure you’re putting the small side down (see video for reference).
- When you’re ready to use your eggs, simply remove them as you need them, give them a good rinse off and use as normal.
- The reason we point eggs down is that there’s an air pocket in each egg, so if you have it going toward the largest size, it’s not touching as much of the egg white and you’ll end up with a better quality egg.
- The biggest concern with water glassing eggs is evaporation. You don’t want your lime water evaporating and exposing your eggs, especially if you’re storing them away in the basement where you might forget about them.
- One way to keep evaporation from happening is to use a container with a lid. If your container doesn’t have a lid, you could add a layer of olive oil over the top of the water, then cover with a towel to keep any bugs or insects out.
How do you store preserved eggs?
As I mentioned before, you’ll want to avoid evaporation. But the good news is, you don’t need any special storage space for this method. No cold-storage, root cellar, basement, etc. needed. Just find the coolest part of your house, where it’s away from direct sunlight and you’ll be good to go.
You do want to avoid extreme heat and/or freezing temperatures, so if you’re storing eggs in a garage, you’ll want to make sure you live in a place with pretty steady temperatures.
How Long do Preserved Eggs Last?
The noted percentage of success rate for this at 8 months is about 100%. Ultimately, 8 months to a year is all I’m wanting to get out of this, but some people have noted that even after 2 years their eggs are perfectly fine to use!
Will Any Eggs will Work for Water Glassing?
No, not all eggs can be used for water glassing. It’s important NOT to use washed or store-bought eggs. Use the current days fresh, unwashed eggs. You can start with just a few eggs and add to the bucket each day as you collect more.
What do Water Glassed Eggs Look Like After 8 Months?
Some of you may think this method is too good to be true. We actually wanted to document this process all the way through, so we’re sharing what our eggs are like eight months later. Watch the video to see our eggs after eight months of sitting on the shelf!
The first thing I noticed is that the bucket of eggs doesn’t smell great, but it also doesn’t stink or smell rotten.
Next, I noticed that none of the eggs are floating. This is a great sign. Because I want to rinse the eggs off anyway, it’s the perfect time to give each one a quick test using “the bad egg” test.
After cracking open a water glassed egg and comparing it with a farm fresh egg I notice that the yolk is slightly less firm, but the white is still very clear and there is no smell.
Frequently Asked Questions about Water Glassed Eggs
We have received so many questions about this method of egg preservation (probably more questions than any of our other videos!). Because of the large volume of questions, we put together another video filled with Q&A. Watch that below!
Is the settling of the lime normal?
Yes, this is completely normal. The solution of lime to water is heavier than necessary, so some settling is normal.
Does water glassing eggs pickle my eggs?
No, this does not pickle the eggs. The end result is a raw, usable eggs.
Should I wear gloves or protection when working with lime water?
Yes, the lime solution is a high ph and can really dry out your hands. In the video above I didn’t wear gloves, but I did experience a little bit of dry skin afterward. If you have sensitive skin, please wear gloves.
When buying a bag of lime there will be warnings all over the bag. Understand this is because typically speaking, this kind of lime is used in construction sites where the bags will be getting thrown around and the dust particles going into the air. The way we’re using the lime is on a much smaller scale. But do take necessary precautions not to inhale the powder.
If it’s not good for my skin, how is it safe to eat?
It’s actually not good to eat the lime, this is why we wash off each egg before using them. This is also why it’s so important to only preserve eggs that haven’t been washed before preserving. They have a natural protective layer that will keep the lime solution from being absorbed into the egg.
I don’t want to buy so much lime, what are my options?
You can buy a pickling lime here! (add link) It will work just the same as the hydrated lime.
My eggs seem runny after getting them out of the solution, why?
This is likely due to an egg that may not have been preserved right away, maybe they weren’t quite as fresh as you thought.
Do preserved eggs taste different than fresh eggs?
No! After eight months of storage on the shelf, my eggs tasted just the same as a fresh egg. But if they sit for over a year or more, they’ll slowly start to take on a little bit of the lime solution flavor. They’ll still be perfectly fine to use in baking, but you may not enjoy it as a fried egg.