Too many eggs. YES. This is a problem I can LOVE. After months of pitiful laying, my flock is cranking out eggs even before spring begins, as the hours of sunshine per day increases. I removed two of the mean hens from the flock, who were drivingthe other girls away from the food. (Butchering them was Saturday’s project; they are in the freezer now.) with two fewer hens I am getting more eggs, so i think that was the right call. Plus I have been encouraging them with extras: organic grains and groats, kale, and occasional yogurt. I am also encouraging their G.I. health (my hens are prone to vent gleet)(yes, still) by adding livestock probiotics, brewers yeast and garlic powder to their feed (thanks to Lisa at Fresh Eggs Daily for that info!).
Yes, they are laying well – but this time I will not be fooled. I will not get excited and start giving away or selling the extras! No no. I am gonna save them for the fall/winter when nature tells the layers to lay off. Twelve to ten average layers can generate enough eggs in a year for a family of four, but only if you preserve the extra egg while you have it, in spring. And yes, you can freeze eggs.
I may not love the plastic of modern life (see my rant Are Your Clothes Killing You?), but I do LOVE GOOGLE SEARCHES. While I waited for the red traffic light to change yesterday, I plugged into my cell phone “freezing spring chicken eggs.” (Of course I parked the phone as soon as the light changed! tush! How can you ask!) My Google quest lead me through a series of methods of preservation, from old-fashioned (which sound scary) by storing in tubs of salt, or by rubbing fat on the shell, or preserving in wax, to a backpacker who dehydrated eggs successfully, and found them functional on the trail.
Bear in mind that clean eggs that have not been washed are ok all by themselves at room temperature for a loooong time, contrary to what a modern refrigeration-dependent Amercian might think. Eggs come out of the mama coated with a protective substance — which American egg industry industriously washes off, thereby rendering the egg defenseless to bacteria. (sigh) In Europe and South Africa eggs are stored in baskets, not refrigerators. How else could eggs in a farmyard sit under a mama in a nest of dirty straw for weeks, and not go rotten, thereby poisoning the embryonic chicken inside, waiting to be hatched? You can’t leave then in a mud pile, not in the full sun, but room temp is not a problem.
The Egg preservation answer I WANTED was: YES DEAR WYSTAN! YOU CAN LAZILY JUST POP THOSE BEAUTIES INTO A ZIPLOCK IN THEIR NICE CLEAN SHELLS!! However, this appears NOT TO BE TRUE. Or at least not to be approved. The FDA advises against freezing eggs in shell, worried about the possibility of transmission of bacterial contamination from shell, when freezing eggs crack. And freezing eggs do crack – I already know that. Another reason not to freeze in shell is egg yolks do not always play nice after it is thawed. The yolks can toughen up and refuse to mix with the whites, they say.
So most Experienced Chicken Egg Freezers stir the whites and yolks together, sometimes adding a little salt ( 1/2 tsp per cup – I used 1/4 tsp per cup) and store in a tub or a ziplock in the freezer MARKED for quantity. (Be sure to mark what it is!) Then when ready to use, thaw slowly in fridge. They say the frozen egg prepared this way, can be used for baking and eating just fine.
Since I have been avoiding evil plastic touching my food as much as possible these days, I will try freezing some in glass, and some in plastic in case that doesn’t work.
But I am also going to try freezing some whole eggs, because I am stubborn. Seems to me that nature usually has these things figured out, and having eggs protected by their own clean shells, cracked or not, seems preferable to eating egg that has been sitting on and absorbing plastic all summer long. Right? (PS. update – they crack badly, and expose the yolk. It probably isn’t going to work…)
Let me add here that what the FDA doesn’t seem to know about food safety would fill a large book. Like most government agencies, they are worried about law suits and C.Y.A. and the stupid factor: what is the worst possible scenario here? The FDA does not give accurate advice on the subtleties of growing and eating your own food in a small controlled setting (ie not a factory farm). Intelligent and educated people READ UP, therefore know better than to store a dirty egg, or to consume the eggs of sick chickens. Right? The eggs of small flock chickens properly kept are generally healthier and certainly tastier than anything you can buy in any store anywhere, organic or not.
However there are some dumb people keeping chickens. I have seen some very sad small flocks, standing in small muddy, unmulched enclosures, without access to grass, or bugs, or sun. We need the FDA regulations and suggestions. And we need to educate ourselves to do BETTER.
I will let you know how thawing and eating my frozen crop works out…next fall!
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