How to Properly Preserve Eggs by Water Glassing

For nearly 20 years, I’ve dreamed of having backyard chickens.  Not only are they super adorable, but of course, I want the eggs.  Somehow, we have never been in a situation where we could have hens of our own, but I’m grateful that we are fortunate enough to have a couple of sources for farm-fresh eggs.

This past summer, their hens were really cranking out eggs, and we could have bought as many eggs as we wanted.  This high production got me thinking and researching different methods of preserving the temporary abundance of eggs available. I hoped to find a method that would allow us to rarely need to buy eggs in the store during the leaner egg production months.  You can find a plethora of information on preserving eggs here, but today I’m just going to focus on Water Glassing Eggs since that is what we successfully did at our house.

I started my batch of eggs last September, and we just finished those eggs nearly 8 months later.  In our case, around November/December last year, the hens had nearly stopped production from both of our sources.  I held fast to the eggs I had water glassed in September and am happy to share the method and our results with you.

Note that I stored my container of eggs in my basement, which is slightly cooler and stays between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 16 degrees Celsius) year-round but you do not need to store yours in a cooler part of your home.

What is Water Glassing?

Water Glassing is a way to preserve fresh eggs in their most natural form.  The unwashed farm eggs are placed in a hydrated lime and water solution and can be stored at room temperature.  This method of long-term storage has been around for 200 years, so it’s been time-tested.

How Long Do Water Glassed Eggs Last?

When I was researching this method last year, I saw reports of water-glassed eggs lasting 2 years.  We successfully stored ours for close to 8 months.  Of the 50 eggs water glassed, only one was bad, which I will cover more on.

What Kind of Lime do I Need to Water Glass?

There are various kinds of lime out there to choose from, and it can be very confusing.  I used pickling lime for my eggs, but it is pretty pricey and can be harder to locate since there is a frenzy of canners since COVID-19 began.  Below is your list of options for lime depending on how much preserving your want to do or your budget.

  1. ($) – Hydrated/Builder’s Lime  – From home improvement stores and comes in large 50 lb bags and would last you many years.
  2. ($$) – Garden Lime – Available online and at garden centers.  Just be sure that your garden lime does NOT contain calcium carbonate.
  3. ($$$) – Pickling/Slacked Lime – Available in the canning section of your supermarket, this is simply calcium hydroxide.

Important Tips for Water Glassing

  • Storebought eggs are not suitable.  The washing process removes a protective layer on the eggs, so only use UNWASHED farm eggs.
  • Wear gloves. The lime water is drying, so I recommend you wear gloves if you are messing with the water.  To fish out some preserved eggs for consumption, use tongs.  You will see in my photo, my food-safe container has degraded some anywhere the lime water line was at various points. This is normal and illustrates just how caustic lime water is.
  • Add eggs as you go.  You can add eggs to your lime water as you get them, but I recommend you rotate and pull eggs from the bottom of your lime water container, so you get the older eggs first.
  • Make sure eggs are covered.  I just did a fresh batch of eggs since we are back in the world of egg abundence.  As you can see below, the eggs are at the tippy top of my container.  As long as they are submerged in the lime water, you are good to go.
  • The smell.  Once you’ve been preserving your eggs for a few weeks, the water does not smell pleasant.  This is normal and does not indicate that the eggs have gone bad.
  • Rinse before using eggs.  It is important to rinse all the lime water before cracking your water-glassed egg.  The old lime water is smelly, so I can’t imagine anyone not rinsing the lime water off an egg.
  • Water glassed egg yolks are more delicate.  If you’re set on making an over-easy egg with an egg that has been water glassed, it’s still possible; you have to be very careful.  The yolk is definitely not as sturdy, and the yolk more easily breaks.
  • No hard-boiling.  I tested hard boiling 6 of my 7-month-old eggs to see how they held up.  Each egg cracked during hard-boiling, with 3 of them totally bursting.  The 3 eggs that were cracked were incredibly difficult to peel.  I have read that you need to poke a hole in your water-glassed egg before boiling, but I have yet to test that and see if it works.
  • Lime water leftover.  I don’t recommend reusing your lime water once you’ve empty it of all your eggs.  You can evenly spray the leftover water in an UNUSED garden bed (which will raise the pH).  If you’ve already planted your garden or have plants in a bed, do NOT place your leftover lime water in there as it is caustic and will burn up your plants.

What Do You Need to Water Glass?

  • Food-grade container with lid
  • Lime (1 ounce lime to 1 quart water) (see the note above about types of lime)
  • Water (1 quart of water to cover 14 eggs)
  • UNWASHED farm fresh eggs

For my 5-quart container, I was able to store 4 1/2 dozen eggs using 4 quarts of water to 4 ounces of water.

How To Water Glass

  1. Do not wash your eggs.  If they have debris on them, you can gently (and sparingly )rinse them with water, but do NOT use soap or scrub them.
  2. In your food-grade container, mix your lime/water solution to the ratio of 1 ounce of lime to 1 quart of water.  The water will be cloudy, and some of the lime will settle to the bottom.
  3. With gloves, gently place your eggs in the bottom of your container.
  4. Cover container with lid and store at room temperature.
  5. When ready to use your egg, pull out the desired number of eggs from the container and rinse well before cracking.
  6. You can do the float test to see if your egg is still good.  This is an informative article all about testing your eggs.

Our Water Glassing Results

The Bad Egg – I don’t know what happened with the one egg we had that went bad.  It was black inside, and the shell was very soft.  I think the egg had a small crack in it, but other than that one egg, every other one was perfect for eating.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of a 7-month-old egg and a fresh egg.

 

Noticeable Differences Between the Two Eggs

White Spot – This is the blastoderm, which would indicate that the egg was fertilized; however, this is entirely safe for consumption.

Brown Spot – This is a meat spot.  You have likely never seen this in your grocery store eggs.  You have not seen meat spots on store-bought eggs because the processors use an automated candling machine to find and remove any eggs that have meat spots so they do not end up on the shelf.  All for esthetics, I’m afraid, because meat spots are also entirely safe.

Egg White Color – The white on the 7-month-old egg looks like it has a little reddish tinge.  Much to my surprise, this is also normal and not a result of water glassing.

In summary: any noticeable appearance differences are not due to water glassing.

So how about you? Have you tried water glassing your abundance of farm eggs?  Or do you prefer preserving them another way?

 

 

 

 

 

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