We love eggs. We love eggs during winter, too, so we kept a light in the coop so the ladies would produce year-round. They slowed down, but we still had enough eggs to get by. But then we moved off-grid.
During our first off-grid winter, eggs were scarce, except for the white oval things from the store. By the late summer of 2014, I was trying to plvian ahead for the winter egg drought. Freezing eggs is a good storage method, but without electricity that wasn’t going to happen.
My neighbor suggested we try “water glassing” to keep eggs for up to eight months. Water glass, or sodium silicate, is basically a mix of potash and silica (quartz). There are more detailed scientific explanations, but that satisfied me. Old methods of food preservation are often dangerous, so I did solid research. From everything I could find, the worst that could happen was that I would end up with a few rotten eggs in the jar.
In August, I collected eggs of various ages. I washed them and plunked 40 to 50 of them in a well-washed gallon pickle jar. I mixed one part water glass and nine parts water. I poured the mixture in the jar, covering the eggs by about 2 inches.
A few days later, I found out that I shouldn’t have washed the eggs. I should have used clean eggs that were less than 24 hours old. Also, I should have mixed the water glass with cooled, boiled water.
I followed the correct method for the next 3 gallons of eggs, and then the hens quit for the winter. I stored the jars under our house, where it is cool and dark. In December, when temperatures dropped below freezing, I brought them in and put them in a cooler corner of the kitchen.
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I finished using the first jar of eggs (the ones I stored using the wrong procedure) when they were five months old. No floaters, no cracked shells. They all had good color and flavor. The yolks had a good shape but tended to break easily when dropped into a bowl.
The rest of the jars, done correctly, were better than the first jar and the yolks were much sturdier. My neighbor said (too late) that I should have turned the jars over once or twice a week, to keep the yolks in good condition. Since I’ll be doing more eggs this year, I’ll have plenty of time to practice my jar-turning skills next winter!
If you’re off-grid or if you’re short on refrigerator space, water glass is a great solution. I got mine from a pharmacist for about $20 for a quart jar, and a quart makes enough mix for six 1-gallons jars.
Egg Stowing At A Glance
1. Collect clean eggs less than 24 hours old. Do not wash.
2. Place eggs in glass jar.
3. Mix one part water glass with 9 parts cooled, boiled water. A 1-gallon jar uses just over a half gallon of this mixture.
4. Pour mixture over eggs, covering by 2 inches.
5. Keep adding clean eggs daily, adding more water glass as needed to keep the liquid 2 inches above the eggs.
6. When the jar is full, store in a cool, dark location. Turn the jar once or twice weekly.
7. When removing eggs, handle carefully because they are slippery. If boiling, pin prick the eggs first to prevent them from exploding.
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About the author: Tanya Kelley lives on a “built from scratch” homestead in Ohio with her husband, teenage son and two Australian Shepherds. She raises miniature Jersey dairy cows for milk, Shetland sheep for wool and chickens for eggs and meat.
This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Fall 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.