Water Glassing Eggs For Easy Long Term Storage

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Egg production of chickens in the spring and early summer months never ceases to amaze me. 

The girls like to show off.

Maybe they’re trying to convince me it was a good idea not to make them all into stew in the middle of the colder months when out of 30+ birds I was getting 2-4 eggs a day. 

I shouldn’t be mad, I’ve had chickens all my life and am well aware when they molt and as the winter months settle in there will be less eggs. Yet still, I’m always annoyed.

This year though, I’m determined not to be caught eggless during holiday baking. I’m taking matters into my own hands and finally planning ahead and water glassing a few gallon jars worth of eggs.

If you also have backyard chickens giving an abundance of eggs, here is the best way to preserve them for the lean winter months ahead.

Let’s begin by understanding what exactly water glassing is:

Water glassing is a method of preserving fresh eggs using a solution of water and hydrated lime. Also known as pickling lime or calcium hydroxide. This technique dates back to the 19th century . It’s valued for its simplicity and effectiveness in keeping eggs fresh for extended periods without refrigeration.

Here’s a brief overview of the process:

  1. Preparation of the Solution: Dissolve pickling lime in clean, distilled water. (one ounce to each quart of water) 
  2. Place Eggs in Container: Place clean, unwashed fresh eggs (with the bloom, or natural protective coating, intact) into a large, food-safe container. Pour the lime solution over the eggs, ensuring they are completely submerged. (Lime can be irritating to skin, so filling the jar with liquid first is not recommended. Plus, it just makes the process more messy as well as drys out your hands.) 
  3. Storage: Store the container in a cool, dark place. Properly prepared and stored, the raw eggs can remain fresh for 12-18 months, sometimes longer. 

The lime solution creates an alkaline environment that inhibits bacterial growth and prevents the eggs from spoiling. This method is particularly useful for homesteaders and those who raise their own chickens. It provides a way to manage egg abundance during peak laying seasons and ensuring a steady supply of eggs throughout the year.

What is pickling lime solution?

Pickling lime, also known as hydrated lime or slaked lime has the active ingredient calcium hydroxide. This ingredient creates an alkaline environment when mixed with water. This alkalinity helps to seal the pores of the eggshell, preventing air and bacteria from entering the egg, slowing down the process of deterioration.

When fresh eggs are immersed in a solution of water and pickling lime, the calcium hydroxide reacts with the carbon dioxide in the air to form calcium carbonate. This calcium carbonate coats the eggshell, creating a protective barrier that helps to maintain the freshness of the egg. The alkaline environment created by the pickling lime helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria that can cause spoilage.

How is calcium hydroxide safe and what did they use 100 years ago when water glassing eggs?

Calcium hydroxide is safe when used in appropriate quantities. However, it can be hazardous if mishandled or ingested in large amounts. Here are some points regarding its safety:

  1. Food Grade Calcium Hydroxide: When used in food preservation, such as water glassing eggs, use food-grade calcium hydroxide, which meets safety standards for use in food processing. Azure standard offers it and you can also purchase from Amazon
  2. Proper Handling: Calcium hydroxide can be very irritating to skin, try to avoid inhalation of dust or direct contact. 
  3. Dilution: In water glassing eggs, calcium hydroxide is diluted in water to create a solution, which reduces its concentration and hazards. To make the solution add one ounce (about 3 Tbsp) to each quart of water. Stir and pour over eggs.
  4. Chemical Reaction: Once diluted and applied to eggs, calcium hydroxide undergoes a chemical reaction with carbon dioxide in the air to form calcium carbonate, which coats the eggshell and creates a protective barrier. The resulting compound is inert and safe.
  5. Limited Ingestion Risk: While calcium hydroxide itself is not typically consumed directly, the small amount that may remain on the eggshell after water glassing is not an issue. Simply rinse egg before cracking and using. 

Before the widespread availability of calcium hydroxide, people often used other alkaline substances, such as wood ash. The specific methods and materials used may have varied depending on geographical location, cultural practices, and availability of resources.

eggs in a half gallon jar for preservation.

What kind of eggs can you use for water glassing?

Store-bought eggs are not usable for water glassing because they are washed and sanitized before being sold. This process removes the natural protective coating on the eggshell called the “bloom” or “cuticle.” The washing and sanitizing processes used for store-bought eggs can also weaken the eggshells, making them more porous and less effective for long-term preservation in a lime solution.


How fresh do the eggs need to be to waterglass?

For the best results with water glassing, the eggs should be four or less days old. 

Here’s why freshness is important and what to consider:

  1. Egg Quality: Fresh eggs have the highest quality, with firm whites and intact yolks. As eggs age, their quality deteriorates, and the whites become more runny, which can affect the overall preservation process.
  2. Bloom Integrity: The natural protective coating (bloom) is most effective immediately after the egg is laid. Over time, the bloom can degrade, reducing its effectiveness as a barrier against bacteria and air.
  3. Bacterial Load: Fresh eggs have a lower bacterial load compared to older eggs. Preserving eggs at their freshest ensures that you start with the lowest possible level of contamination, which is critical for long-term storage.

Water-glassing eggs from more than chickens

While chicken eggs are the most commonly water-glassed eggs, you can also use other types such as:

– Duck eggs

– Guinea eggs

– Goose eggs

– Pheasant eggs 

Just make sure they meet the same criteria of being undamaged, fresh, and clean eggs. The process of water glassing works by sealing the pores of the eggshell, regardless of the type of egg, thereby preserving its freshness for an extended period of time.

How to store eggs

Using smaller jars such as a quart jar size isn’t very efficient as it won’t hold many eggs. A half-gallon jar or a full gallon gives a much larger bounty. If you’d like full gallon size, grab the gallon glass pickle jars from the store, enjoy said pickles, and keep that glass for egg glassing season! I’ve even seen many people also use a five gallon bucket. If you have a large family and many baking needs in the winter, it’s a great option. 

water glassed eggs in a half gallon jar

Are glass jars required when water glassing eggs?

While glass jars are commonly used for water glassing eggs due to their non-reactive nature and ability to securely hold the solution, you can use other types of containers as well, as long as they are non-reactive and food-safe. Here are some options:

  1. Crock or Stoneware: Traditional crocks or stoneware containers can also be used for water glassing eggs. Make sure they are food-safe and thoroughly cleaned before use.
  2. Enamelware: Enamel-coated containers, such as enamel pots or pans, can be suitable for water glassing eggs. Ensure that the enamel coating is intact and not chipped to prevent any potential reactions with the solution.
  3. Stainless Steel: Stainless steel containers are another option, but it’s essential to avoid containers made from reactive metals, such as aluminum or copper, as they can react with the alkaline solution.

Regardless of the type of container you choose, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid or cover to seal the eggs and solution properly. Additionally, ensure that the container is large enough to accommodate the eggs without overcrowding, allowing them to be fully submerged in the water glassing solution.

Step-by-step guide on how to water glass eggs:

  1. Gather Your Materials:
    • Fresh, unwashed eggs from your chicken coop or someone local
    • Food-grade calcium hydroxide (lime powder)
    • Container with a tight-fitting lid or cover (glass jar, food-grade plastic container, crock, enamelware, stainless steel, etc.)
    • Water
    • Measuring utensils
  2. Prepare the Solution:
    • In a separate container, mix together one ounce lime to a quart of water. (Do this as many times as needed to pour over eggs until fully submerged.)
  3. Clean and Prepare the Eggs:
    • Select fresh, unwashed eggs that are clean, free from cracks or damage, and fresh.
    • If necessary, gently wipe off any visible dirt or debris from the eggs using a dry cloth or paper towel.
  4. Place Eggs in Empty Container:
    • Carefully place the eggs into container. Avoid overcrowding to allow for even coating and proper preservation.
  5. Pour Solution over Eggs Unit All are Submerged
  6. Store the Container:
    • Place the sealed container in a cool, dark location with stable temperatures, such as a pantry, cellar, or basement. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or areas prone to temperature fluctuations.
  7. Use Eggs:
    • After the initial preservation period, (2 weeks) you can begin using the water glassed eggs as needed. Remember to always use clean utensils to remove eggs from the solution to prevent contamination.

By following these steps, you can successfully water glass eggs, preserving them for an extended period without refrigeration.

It’s a simple and effective method for storing eggs, particularly for those living off-grid or seeking long-term food preservation solutions.

ingredients to make water glass eggs

How long do the eggs last? 


When eggs are water glassed properly, they can be stored for an extended period without refrigeration, typically ranging from several months to up to a year or more, depending on various factors such as storage conditions and the freshness of the eggs at the time of preservation.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Proper Storage: Water glassed eggs should be stored in a cool, dark place with stable temperatures, such as a pantry, cellar, or basement. Avoid storing them in direct sunlight or areas prone to temperature fluctuations, as this can affect their shelf life.
  2. Freshness of Eggs: The freshness of the eggs at the time of preservation can impact how long they will store. Fresher eggs tend to have thicker shells and a higher quality of egg white, which can contribute to better preservation results.
  3. Continued Monitoring: It’s essential to periodically check the water glassing solution and eggs for any signs of spoilage, such as off-putting odors, mold growth, or unusual discoloration. Remove any eggs that show signs of spoilage to prevent contamination of the remaining eggs.
  4. Rotating Eggs: As you use the water glassed eggs, you can continue to add fresh eggs to the container, ensuring that they are fully submerged in the solution. This helps maintain the proper ratio of preserving agent to water and ensures a continuous supply of preserved eggs.
  5. Duration of Storage: While water glassing can extend the shelf life of eggs significantly compared to storing them at room temperature, the exact duration of storage can vary based on the factors mentioned above. It’s generally recommended to consume water glassed eggs within a year for optimal quality, although some sources suggest they can last even longer under ideal conditions.

Water glassed eggs do not generally taste different from fresh eggs when cooked, but there can be some subtle changes in texture. Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Taste: Most people find that water glassed eggs taste very similar to fresh eggs, especially when they are used in cooking or baking. The preservation method does a good job of maintaining the egg’s natural flavor.
  2. Texture: The texture of the eggs can change over the amount of time they stay in the solution slightly. The egg whites of water glassed eggs may become a bit more runny compared to fresh eggs. This is because the lime solution can affect the proteins in the egg whites, making them less firm.
  3. Appearance: Water glassed eggs might have a slightly different appearance when cracked open. The whites may spread out more than fresh eggs, but the yolks usually stay intact and retain their normal color.
  4. Usage: Due to the potential changes in texture, water glassed eggs are often preferred for baking, scrambling, or other recipes where the exact texture of the raw egg is less critical. For fried eggs or poaching, you might notice the texture difference more.

Water glassing is an effective way to preserve eggs without significantly impacting their taste or usability in most recipes.

I hope this helps you with your surplus of eggs. This preservation process is a great way to be less dependent on weekly shopping trips, and able to use well more of what your homestead is providing. Each season provides a different abundance we must preserve to be able to have a continual supply of goodness all season long. The small cost of the lime will more than offset the extra cost it would inflict on your budget if you were purchasing dozens of organic farm fresh eggs.

eggs in a half gallon jar for preservation.

How To Waterglass Eggs

Yield: 1 gallon
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Water glassing is a simple and effective method for preserving your surplus eggs, ensuring a steady supply during the winter months. This process helps reduce dependency on weekly shopping trips and allows you to use more of what your homestead provides.

Ingredients

  • Fresh, unwashed eggs (with the bloom intact)
  • Food-grade calcium hydroxide (pickling lime)
  • Water
  • Large, food-safe container with a tight-fitting lid (e.g., glass jar, food-grade plastic container, crock, or enamelware)
  • Measuring utensils
  • Food scale

Instructions

    Prepare the Lime Solution:

    Dissolve 1 ounce (about 3 tablespoons) of pickling lime in 1 quart of clean, distilled water.
    Stir until the lime is completely dissolved.
    Prepare the Eggs:

    Select fresh, unwashed eggs. Gently wipe off any visible dirt with a dry cloth or paper towel.
    Submerge the Eggs:

    Place the eggs in a large, food-safe container.
    Pour the lime solution over the eggs, ensuring they are completely submerged. (Filling the container with the solution first prevents skin irritation and mess.)
    Seal and Store:

    Cover the container with a tight-fitting lid.
    Store in a cool, dark place like a pantry, cellar, or basement.
    Properly stored, the eggs can remain fresh for 12-18 months.

Notes

Freshness of Eggs: For best results, use eggs that are no more than four days old. Fresh eggs have a higher quality and their natural protective coating (bloom) is most effective.
Alternative Eggs: Besides chicken eggs, you can also water glass duck, guinea, goose, and pheasant eggs.
Container Size: Half-gallon or full-gallon jars are ideal. You can also use a five-gallon bucket if you have a large supply of eggs and a big family.

Safety Tips:

Handling Calcium Hydroxide: Use food-grade calcium hydroxide and handle it carefully, as it can be irritating to the skin and harmful if inhaled.
Storage: Use non-reactive, food-safe containers such as glass jars, crocks, or enamelware.
Monitoring: Periodically check for any signs of spoilage such as off-putting odors or mold growth.

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