Egg production can often feel like a “feast or famine” operation. In the short days of winter, when your hens aren’t laying as much, if at all, you may feel like spring can’t get here fast enough. Then in the spring, the chickens go into overdrive and you may be left with more eggs than you know what to do with.
You might be wondering if it’s possible to find a way to take advantage of the current overabundance of eggs and at the same time, stretch that spring and summer bounty throughout the following winter. The answer is yes! With a little creativity and these storage tips, you can manage both the feast and the famine and have enough eggs to last throughout the year.
1. Smart Storage
The great thing about fresh eggs is that they have a long shelf life and can remain fresh at room temperature for up to eight weeks as long as the eggs are not washed. Eggs have a built-in protective coating, called the “bloom,” that effectively protects the egg from harmful bacteria. Leaving the bloom intact by not washing the eggs will allow you to prolong the shelf life of your eggs without refrigeration.
However, a study conducted by Mother Earth News on egg preservation in 1977 concluded that the best way to preserve fresh eggs is to refrigerate them unwashed in a sealed container. In the study, the eggs stored in this manner were still fresh up to six months. In fact, the control group of eggs, which were simply left unwashed at room temperature were still edible after 90 days, though the quality of the eggs suffered.
If you’re interested in long-term storage through the winter, your best bet is refrigeration.
2. Sell Your Extra Eggs
Many urban farmers I’ve talked to sell their extra eggs as a way to bring in extra income and even defray the costs of feed and supplies. Check with your local laws to determine if you can sell your eggs on a larger scale than friends and family. With a small initial investment in packaging, you can be well on your way to establishing a local egg business.
3. Use Extra Eggs As Feed
Boil or scramble extra eggs along with the shells, and feed them to your chickens. The chickens will love this treat, and the eggshells are a great source of calcium for them.
4. Freeze Your Eggs
If you’ve ever wondered if you can freeze eggs, the answer is a resounding “yes!” Freezing eggs is a great way to store excess eggs long term. There are quite a few methods for freezing eggs, but the easiest and most reliable way is to separate the whites from the yolks and freeze them in ice cube trays. Egg whites can be frozen without any advance preparation; however, the yolks need a little extra care.
According to the American Egg Board, egg yolks become gelatinous when frozen. In order to retard this process, beat the yolks and add 1/8 teaspoon of salt for every four yolks for savory recipes or 1½ teaspoons of sugar for sweet recipes before freezing in ice cube trays. Once the eggs are frozen, remove them from the ice cube trays and store up to one year in a freezer bag. Take care to separate the sweet yolks from the savory yolks when you store them.
5. Make Egg-Heavy Recipes
My favorite method for managing an abundance of eggs is to find all kinds of ways to eat them. Look for ways to make recipes that use lots of eggs, like fresh homemade pastas, quiches, frittatas, omelets, as well as desserts, like sponge cake and meringue.
Hard-cooked eggs are a quick, high protein snack that can be stored unpeeled in the refrigerator. The best way to hard-cook eggs is to place them in a pot of cold water and bring the water to a boil. Once the water has reached the boiling point, remove the pot from the heat and cover. Allow the eggs to remain in the pot for 18 minutes, and rinse with cold water. Once the eggs have cooled, they can be stored in the refrigerator unpeeled for about a week. Try dressing them up with a drizzle of oil and fresh herbs for a delightful and sophisticated snack. Deviled eggs are also a great way to use hard-cooked eggs.
Fresh, homemade pasta recipes often incorporate whole eggs, as well as egg yolks. Use the leftover egg whites in another recipe or freeze them for later use.
Quiches and Frittatas
Lemon Meringue Pie
Sponge cake is a light, delicious, flourless cake that uses six eggs.
With these tips in mind, hopefully instead of finding yourself drowning in eggs this seasons, you’ll be inspired to try something new.