It’s that time of year when we have an abundance of eggs here on the homestead. Our hens are laying far more than we can use. So today I’m going to show you how to water glass eggs so you can enjoy farm-fresh eggs all winter long.
I will never complain about having an abundance to share as well as some to preserve for later.
Water glassing is the perfect solution to deal with an overage of fresh eggs.
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How to Preserve Eggs with Lime
How to preserve eggs in lime is the technique I’m going to show you today. We’ll be using pickling lime powder and filtered water to create a solution that your clean, un-washed eggs will be put into and stored for later use.
It’s cheap, fast, and doesn’t require anything fancy.
Preserving Eggs in Lime
Preserving eggs in lime solution is just one method of egg preservation.
I use Mrs. Wages Pickling lime but any brand will work. You can purchase this online, or in big box stores in the canning section. I buy it in bulk and store it in a 1-gallon jar.
What is water-glassing eggs?
Water-glassing eggs is a very simple process that involves submerging clean, unwashed, farm-fresh eggs in a solution made of pickling lime and filtered water.
This solution seals the shell allowing them to be stored for 12 to 18 months on the shelf.
What you get is fresh eggs, just like the day they were laid.
I have heard that water-glassed eggs can last for up to two years. But I have never had any that lasted that long.
Homesteaders have been using this method to preserve eggs for hundreds of years to preserve the abundance that is often had in springtime and through summer when egg production is at its peak.
There are a couple of different solutions that can be used when water glassing eggs, but today I’m going to be sharing the process using hydrated pickling lime and filtered water. I have found this method to be the easiest.
Hydrated lime is easy to source and is a very quick method.
Tips when water glassing eggs
- A half-gallon jar will hold anywhere between 15 to 20 eggs. This will vary depending on the size of your eggs.
- Always use the cleanest eggs you have for water glassing.
- The more frequently you clean your coop and nesting boxes, the more clean eggs you will have to water glass.
- Make sure whatever you are storing your water glassed eggs in, that it is airtight. With all food preservation methods, oxygen can cause negative effects. Left open to the air, the lime solution will begin to evaporate causing your eggs to be exposed to air instead of being submerged in the solution.
- If you don’t have a water filter for your water, and you are not on a well, try store-bought water that has been filtered. You can also fill your bucket or glass jar with the water you will need for water glassing, and leave it open to air for 24 to 48 hours. This will give the chlorine a chance to evaporate.
- The ratio of pickling lime to water will not change regardless of what you are water glassing in. One quart of water to one ounce of pickling lime.
- I have had more broken eggs using 5-gallon buckets than I did when using smaller buckets. So if I had any recommendations, it would be to start with 2 to 3-gallon buckets versus larger ones-even if you have quite a lot of eggs. But if you are comfortable using a 5-gallon bucket, then use that. You also have the option to only fill it halfway.
Water Glassing Eggs FAQs: Why you should preserve eggs
Due to the changing of the seasons, hens are naturally are more productive egg layers in the spring and summer months (end of March through the End of August-roughly).
This is because there is more daylight during this time of year and the chickens don’t need to expend excess energy and calories making new feathers and trying to keep warm.
Heat also affects ovulation which can, in turn, can help increase egg production.
Because this is the most productive time for hens to lay, it makes sense to preserve them for the months in which egg production slows down substantially due to weather and shorter days.
Preserve your farm fresh when you have abundance and have plenty of eggs through the winter without having to buy from the store.
What is hydrated lime?
- Hydrated lime is calcium hydroxide. A dry, white powder that is commonly used in the manufacturing of steel.
- It is also referred to as slated lime or pickling lime.
Can you re-use the pickling lime solution to water glass more eggs?
- I have never tried to reuse my solution to water glass an additional batch of eggs. I also wasn’t able to find any information that recommends this practice or says that it is safe to do so. For that reason, I’d recommend starting with a fresh batch of solution with each batch you’d like to preserve.
Can garden lime be used to water glass eggs?
- Garden lime is made up of calcium carbonate and pickling lime is calcium hydroxide.
- Hydroxide is far more alkaline, so it is recommended for water-glassing use.
I can’t recommend using garden lime to preserve eggs.
Are water glass eggs safe to eat?
- If water glassing was done properly, lime-preserved eggs are perfectly safe to eat. I have only ever personally eaten eggs that were preserved for 18 months, so beyond that, use your own judgment. I have heard of them tasting fresh for up to 24 months.
- Be sure and use clean utensils and storage containers. Eggs should be clean and unwashed.
- Unsure if they are safe to eat or not? You can also perform a float test to check the quality.
If you are still unsure, once you crack the egg open you will be able to tell very quickly if the egg is bad or not based on the smell. It shouldn’t really have a smell at all. Should look like it did the day it was laid.
Do water-glassed eggs taste different from fresh eggs?
- Water-glassed eggs do not taste any different than fresh eggs. That’s what makes this method of egg preservation so great.
- Freezing and dehydrating eggs can change their texture slightly. But this method keeps them as fresh as the day they were laid by your hens.
Is it normal for the pickling lime to all settle to the bottom of the container?
- Yes, the settling of the pickling lime in the solution is totally normal. When you first mix it all together, it will be very cloudy. After it has time to sit, the lime will all settle to the bottom and on top of the eggs.
Do not shake or try to re-mix the solution. You risk damaging your eggs and ruining the batch you preserved. There is still plenty of lime in the solution to preserve the eggs safely.
More FAQs about water glassing eggs
Can you use store-bought eggs to water glass eggs?
- No. Store-bought eggs should never be used with this egg preservation method. Eggs from the grocery store have been washed and sanitized. During this process, the protective “bloom” is removed. When the bloom is removed from the egg, the shell’s pores are exposed.
- The lime water glassing solution works with the egg’s natural bloom to preserve them even longer than the natural bloom does.
If you don’t have chickens, quail, or ducks for fresh eggs, try a local farm nearby. Have a friend or a family member that has birds? Try reaching out to them and see if you can purchase un-washed eggs directly from them.
- Water glassing eggs is not the only simple preservation method for your eggs. You can also freeze dry, freeze them, or dehydrate them for later use. All these methods work well too.
Can you use tap water to water glass eggs?
- City water from the tap in most areas contains chlorine and fluoride. It’s best to use filtered water so that way the minerals in the water are still intact. If you have a well on your property as your main source of water, then tap water is just fine.
- If you don’t have a water filter and you are not on a well water system, you can use filtered water from the store for this method.
Can you use farm-fresh eggs that have been refrigerated for water glassing?
- In order to water glass eggs, you need the bloom intact. That’s why it’s recommended to use clean, unwashed eggs.
- Placing eggs in the refrigerator is fine, however, when you take them out to bring them back to room temperature, the eggs will sweat, therefore removing that bloom.
I can’t recommend that you place your eggs in the refrigerator, then remove them to water glass them.
Boiling water glassed eggs
You can absolutely use your lime-preserved eggs to make hard-boiled eggs.
- Remove your eggs from the pickling lime solution and wash them off.
- Make a small pinhole in the top of the egg before you cook them to allow pressure out (I do this with a sewing pin). Pickling lime works by sealing the pores in the egg. A small hole in the egg will allow the pressure to escape, and keep the egg from potentially exploding while boiling.
Do I need to wash the eggs before using them after they have been water glassed?
- Yes, you should wash your eggs before you use them after they have been water glassed.
- Fresh, clean, un-washed, farm-fresh eggs (chicken, duck, or quail)
- Filtered water
- Pickling lime
The ratio of pickling lime to water for water glassing
1-ounce pickling lime to 1-quart filtered water is the ratio we’ll be using.
- Food-grade buckets with lids or glass jars with lids (half-gallon or one-gallon work well).
- Kitchen scale to weigh the pickling lime.
- Water filter – store-bought filtered water is ok too or well water
- Measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I’ll share a measurement you can use as well. The scale is just more accurate.
What types of eggs can be used with this method?
The biggest and most important takeaway when water-glassing eggs is to be sure they are clean of debris and not washed.
Store-bought eggs should not be water-glassed because the bloom (natural protective coating) has been removed during the cleaning and sanitation process.
How to water glass eggs
- Select what type of container you’d like to store your eggs in.
- Mix pickling lime and filtered water at a ration of one ounce pickling lime to one quart of water. Set aside.
- Carefully place your clean, unwashed eggs into your jar or bucket.
- Pour your pickling solution over the top of the eggs until they are completly submerged.
- Label with the date and place in a cool, dark place until ready to use. I will often include a best by date on my inventory sheet. I try and use my eggs within a year.
- When you are ready to use your eggs, give them a wash and use as normal.
NOTE: I recommend cracking eggs into a smaller bowl first, instead of just cracking them into a mixing bowl with a bunch of other ingredients. This way, if the egg is bad, you aren’t wasting a bunch of other ingredients unnecessarily.
How long do they last?
- Eggs preserved in lime water can last 12 to 18 months. But I have heard that some have had them for up to 24 months without any issues.
Here on our homestead, we have had a 100 percent success rate with water glassed eggs at 10 months.
How long they last are also determined by how they are stored. Once preserved in lime, you want to store them in a cool, dark place until they are ready to be used. This will also help keep them longer than if you are stored on the countertop exposed to light.
Considerations for water glassing eggs
If you are buying eggs locally or getting them from a friend or family member that has laying hens, it’s important to ask them not to wash the eggs. Let them know that you going to be lime-preserving them so that you’d like them with bloom still intact.
Once the eggs have been washed, they can no longer be preserved safely using this method.
Shop Water Glassing Supplies
Glass storage jars
Label maker (optional) tape and a sharpie also work well for labeling.
Any jars with lids will work for water-glassing eggs. You can use smaller jars if that’s all you have. Likewise, you can use 5-gallon buckets with a gamma lid instead of a smaller bucket. I personally find that smaller buckets and 1-gallon glass jars worked better for me.
Our local hardware store carries food-grade buckets and gamma lids in the paint department. So consider checking there for a better price.
More homestead recipes
Try this delicious breakfast casserole with your water glassed eggs! It’s a simple make-ahead recipe for all those busy mornings.