Store Eggs Long-Term Without Refrigeration!

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Survival Diva here. The Mother of all Food Storage Myths started the ball rolling on myths we’ve come to take as gospel that are not always the best advice in a survival situation. Now it’s time to pick up the threads and discuss related myths, that when addressed, can get us past a long-term crisis much more comfortably.

Believe it or not you can store eggs, unrefrigerated, for 6 months or longer, and cheese for years when done properly. And there’s good news for those of you who have been looking for a solution for yeast’s relatively short shelf life…there is an easy work-around.

It all hinges on our forefathers wisdom that has been lost by most of us for one simple reason. We’ve always had the refrigerator! And we’ve learned to rely on the experts who tell us we’re all goanna die if we ever stray from keeping our food outside a refrigerator.

The good news is we don’t have far to go far to debunk most of what we are told with regards to living without traditional refrigeration and it goes back to our forefathers. They did quite nicely, even though they had to make it from one growing season to the next without a refrigerator, keeping staples like eggs for months, cheese for years, and they had to have a dependable way to bake bread.

So, How Did They Do It?  

Many had icehouses. Back in the olden days, ice was a VERY profitable business and most homesteaders had their ice delivered. Otherwise, they went to ice houses whenever ice needed to be replenished—typically within 1 to 3 years. That’s not going to happen in our day when everything is trucked in and society no longer sees the need for self-sufficiency.

If you happen to live in a northern climate zone, it’s certainly worth checking out how to build and maintain an ice house. It means building into a north slope that is shaded, requires lots of sawdust, and a nearby lake for blocks of ice. Or you could make your own ice in winter.

Tom Tailer, a physics teacher, came up with a way to build an inventive ice house made from nothing but a little wood, a bunch of 2-litre pop bottles, and saltwater solution made from 200 grams of rock salt water per 2 –liter bottle. Tailer and his students experimented with both a freezer (using more salt-water filled 2-litre bottles), and a refrigerator which uses fewer salt water filled 2-litre bottles. Amazing! Visit here if you want to see the basics: www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20100816/NEWS02/100815019/Essex-project-builds-backyard-passive-freezer and a follow-up article and video: www.uvm.edu/~cems/?Page=News&storyID=17191

Many homesteaders had root cellars that were used to preserve fruits and vegetables, and in some cases when the root cellars remained cool enough they stored their dairy products such as eggs, milk, cheese, and butter in their root cellar.  But what about those who lived in southern climate zones where none of this was possible?

In this post, we’ll start with the How-To’s of storing eggs for 6 months or more. In the next post, we’ll move on to cheese, and then we’ll move on to sourdough starter.

Myth-Busting Un-Refrigerated Egg Storage

Myth #1: “You can’t store eggs without refrigeration.”  Oh yes you can! In fact, that’s how our forefathers did it. They HAD to store their eggs over winter when hens stopped laying eggs with the lack of sunlight.

You WILL notice the egg whites are a bit runnier after eggs have been stored for months, but they are safe to eat and they are just as tasty.

For those of you with salmonella on your mind at the mere mention of storing eggs unrefrigerated, see the tried and true method of testing eggs at the end of this section—another of our forefather’s tried and true tricks. Plus, your nose will alert you to a spoiled egg…the sulfur smell they give off is unmistakable!

Here are the two best methods to preserve eggs:

#1: Water Glass Method

Eggs can be preserved from 6 to 9 months with the water glass method. Water Glass can sometimes be purchased by special order at big box stores or pharmacy’s, or it can be ordered online at Lehman’s.

***Tips***

Use ONLY Farm-fresh, un-washed eggs for this method. Unwashed eggs retain what is called the “bloom,” which is a protective coating deposited by the hen to protect the egg from outside pollutants. Preserve fresh eggs with the water glass method within 24 hours of purchase for best results.

What You’ll Need

1. A large, ½ gallon (or larger) container or with a lid. The size you choose depends upon how many eggs you plan to preserve, or if you want to have several containers. Half-gallon containers will store up to 15 eggs, one gallon containers, around 30 eggs.

2. Unwashed, Farm-Fresh Eggs

3. Water Glass solution made from one-part water glass to 10 parts boiled water (the boiled water MUST be cooled to room temperature).

Instructions

  1. Inspect the eggs for cracks or chips and toss the defective ones—one spoiled egg WILL ruin the whole batch! Wipe any unsightly residue from the egg with a dry, soft cloth.
  2. Boil enough water to make the water glass solution that is one-part water glass to 10-parts water—enough to fill your container. Let the water cool to room temperature before mixing with water glass.
  3. Place each egg GENTLY into your container into the water glass solution. Be sure the water glass solution covers the top of the last eggs at least one inch.
  4. Apply Vaseline to the lid-otherwise any water glass that may be transferred from the lip of the container is capable of sealing the lid shut and you may not be able to get it opened. Screw down the lid.
  5. Store the preserved eggs in a cool, dark place. Even the floor of a closet will work.

 

#2: Mineral Oil Method

This method can keep eggs for up to 6 months, but storage time varies depending on the temperature they are stored in. Basements or root cellars work well for this method for storage—just remember; the cooler, the better.

***Tips***

For this method, some folks preserve store-bought eggs, and others Farm-Fresh eggs. Personally, I use the Farm-Fresh because they retain their “bloom” to further protect the eggs. Eggs stored in temperatures of 68 degrees or cooler will store for 6 months, and sometimes longer.

What You’ll Need:

Surgical/Food Handler’s gloves

Mineral oil

Eggs

Egg Cartoons

Instructions

  1. Inspect eggs and toss any that have cracks or chips.
  2. If you’re using Farm-Fresh eggs, gently wipe away any residue on eggs with a dry, soft cloth.
  3. Wearing gloves, pour a small amount of mineral oil on gloved hands and hand-coat each egg with mineral oil, making sure to coat the entire egg.
  4. Place mineral oil-coated egg in the cartoon and store in as cool a location as possible.

Note: Eggs must be turned every month, from pointed end down to pointed end up to avoid spoilage.

How To Test Eggs For Spoilage

Anytime you are preserving eggs for any length of time, it is imperative to test them before using. To do this, I suggest a 2-step method:

First put the egg in a bowl of cold or room temperature water. If the egg remains at the bottom, it is safe to eat. Should it float near the middle of the water, but does not rise to the top of the bowl, it is stale, but may not be spoiled. This occurs when the egg develops an air pocket, which makes the egg more buoyant. If it floats to the top, toss it!

For eggs that passed the water bowl test, next crack the egg into a bowl before adding it to a recipe.  Let your sense of smell make the decision. If you detect the smell of sulfur, toss it.

NOTE: Eggs stored for months will have runnier whites, but can still be used in baked goods and their taste is no different than just-bought eggs.

This concludes the first part of getting around refrigeration food storage myths. Have you tried either the water glass or mineral oil method to store eggs? Been struggling, or found success for grid-down refrigeration solutions? Please share your thoughts and tips! 

Also, remember to take advantage of the 2 for 1 special on Urban Survival Playing Cards and remember that 10% of all sales this week go to frontline first responders helping with Hurricane Sandy recovery.  That goes for the cards, for TacticalFirearmsTrainingSecrets.com, SurviveInPlace.com, and FastestWayToPrepare.com

God Bless and Stay Safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva

 

 

About David Morris

David Morris is the creator of the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, the Fastest Way To Prepare Course, Urban Survival Playing Cards, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets, and other books, courses, and articles on preparedness, survival, firearms, and other tactical topics. He lives with his wife, 2 boys, and 2 dogs.

Comments

  1. If you turn your eggs over every week instead of every month, you can skip the step of coating them in mineral oil. The idea is that an egg is a semi-permeable membrane and when part of the inside of the egg dries out, it allows air in and that is when spoilage occurs. By turning the eggs over frequently, it doesn’t have time to dry out. I have been doing this for years with the eggs getting to be as old as 6 months without being able to tell a difference from a farm fresh egg.

  2. I remember going to the ice company with my grandfather in the ’60′s to get ice for the icebox. Best part of the trip was getting a snow cone to cool off on those hot GA summer days.
    I also remember some of my aunts storing eggs.
    1- Coat eggs with a thin layer of lard (they used lard for everything – we rendered it in the fall after a hog killing).
    2- Put a 2 inch or so layer of damp sand in a wooden box (I use plastic paint buckets). Put a layer of coated eggs in – make sure they don’t touch each other or the sides of the container.
    3- Gently pour damp sand over the eggs until you have about another inch to 2 inches.
    4- Repeat until your container is filled, making sure to leave enough room to have 2 inches of damp sand on top.
    5- Store in a cool room, root cellar, or spring house. Make sure that where you put them doesn’t freeze during the winter.
    6- Check on the dampness of your sand occasionally and sprinkle a little water if needed. Putting a lid on the container helps to hold the humidity, but don’t seal it air tight.

    I use the northeast spare bedroom in our house to store some food items as it is the coldest room in the house, it acts almost like a root cellar for part of the year. We have such a high water table in our area (dig down 3 to 4 feet and watch the bottom of your hole start to fill with water) so we can’t have root cellars.

  3. what is mineral oil and where can you buy it?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Nicole,
      Mineral oil is made from the distillation of petroleum. To preserve eggs, look for food grade mineral oil that can be found at pharmacies and most grocery stores. Hope this helped!

  4. I just bought 30oz of water glass at Alberton’s Pharmacy for under $24. Had to order it, but it only took 2 days to get it.

  5. sodium silicate is added to clay powder and water when you mix up your own clay slip for pouring your ceramics, so check with your nearest ceramic supplier.

  6. Craig Christy says:

    Sodium Silicate can also be purchased at a mason’s supply or concrete supply store. It’s used to seal cured concrete.
    Also, be advised — counterfeit gold coins are coming in from China. A tungsten planchet is plated with gold. Tungsten has the same density as gold. Buy coins from a dealer with an X-ray analyzer. A dealer near me has caught several fakes.

  7. joseph morehouse says:

    I find this all very interesting and comforting to hear about people are taking responsiblity for there lives , I wish more of the people on the east coast were more prepare the news is heart breaking , have a Aunt @ Uncle who rode out the storm , they were the only one on there block with lights when it was over and heat ,my uncle is a old time prepper he seen enought disasters in his life to be prepared.
    As for the eggs my grandmother would coat the eggs with bees wax and put them in a ,I guess you could call it a sand box .2 inches of sand on the bottom then a layer of eggs the more sand until they were covered ,with 2 inches above the top of the eggs , then more eggs and so forth until the wooden box was filled , then into a deep root cellar . She also made german style pickle eggs with onions and vinger.
    David Morris and Survival Diva – I have been printing out your articles and giving them to family hope they would open there eyes , thank you for what you are doing.

  8. Does anyone know if these methods will work on fertile eggs as we have a rooster running with our hens.

  9. Katherine Clemons says:

    I think I will dehydrate the eggs. Going to do it next week.

  10. Steven W. Wilgus , RN/CRT says:

    Say, does anyone know or heard of coating eggs with wax/parafine – carefully of course.

    this si sa wonderful area of information – eggs ae superb for sustainment and can be used in so many reicpies… Thanks Dave A home run!

    • Survival Diva says:

      Steven,
      I have heard of people coating them with paraffin. Some say Vaseline works well, also. But I haven’t found any long-term studies to support these methods effectiveness. The principle is to coat the egg, so the shell is protected from breaking down and absorbing pollutants. It SHOULD work, but as I mentioned, I don’t have the proof I’d need to see to whole-heartedly recommend it.

  11. Emergency Essentials carries the shortening powder as well.

    The Ready Store also carries egg crystals (as opposed to powdered eggs). They have free shipping on all orders of $100. FYI. I have had excellent service from both of these companies.

    I have likewise had good service from Honeyville and their prices are lower on basics but their shel life is also far lower.

  12. I found a note in wikipedia about the water glass method. They advise caution if boiling eggs stored that way– you might want to prick the shell first. The water glass will decrease the porousness.

  13. For those of you with chickens, my hens laid all last winter. I’m not sure if it was because of fairly mild weather, or that we put a small solar light in the coop. It resembled a night light, out of a dozen hens, I only saw a reduction of 2 eggs at the most.

  14. Would bags of play sand found at Home Depot et al be OK to use?

  15. karnerbutterfly says:

    I can understand why you wouldn’t use cracked eggs for long-term storage, but how about hard-boiling them rather than ‘tossing’? Recipies abound on the internet for pickled eggs. Although they say “refrigerate several days” it would seem to me that pickling them in any cool place would be fine. I don’t know how long pickled eggs would keep, but preservation IS the point of the pickling process, isn’t it?

    • Survival Diva says:

      karnerbutterfly
      Some will use store bought and others farm-fresh eggs. If a store bought egg has sat on a refrigerated shelf for days that is either cracked or chipped, it may be risky to eat. Farm-fresh eggs may be exposed to disease when cracked or chipped. It’s best to inspect eggs before purchase. Eggs that are contaminated before the preservation process of pickling are likewise risky to eat.

  16. This was told to me by an older couple who took eggs with them when they went to Florida every year for the winter. It has to do with storage of other kinds of food during an emergency. Cook all the food in the fridge well done. Double wrap with aluminum foil and thoroughly cover with ordinary melted household wax. Store all items in a cool place with straw and newspaper. When you start to eat one item finish it before going to the next. My question – I’ve never had the opportunity to do that. Does anyone know if the system works?

  17. DON’T FORGET: before preservatives and refrigeration, hundreds and even thousands of people died of food poisoning, every year.

  18. Ira Krause says:

    I remember removing eggs from a large crock of water glass many times for eating.

    and later even with ice houses we still used the water glass method.
    and would see the transportation of ice that the workers with saws brought
    to the ice houses lined with straw. Later one large ice house was on fire and
    destroyed it. was not rebuild. I am now 84 years of age also remember the
    outdoor toilets. and going to town with a blanket and under it a heated
    brick to keep feet warm with the horses pulling the wagon keep a good list of
    merchandise do not forget to save unnecessary trips good bye

  19. Beth in TX says:

    This was very interesting on so many levels.
    Historic WWII England food rationing and
    gardens + chickens. If you owned chickens,
    you had to forfeit your egg ration card to
    purchase chicken feed. Water glass method
    of egg storage is shown.

    You-tube video is about an hour long, and well
    worth the watch. Also educational on how
    heavily the government stepped in to force
    relocations of women and children, black-out
    window coverings, etc.

    youtube. com/watch?v=PLLKH1iW0bY&feature=related

  20. andrea francis says:

    All this discussion of preserving eggs reminded me of this old Sioux indian women I was taking care of as a home nurse. The first time I cooked her a meal I cleaned up and put the food in the refrigerator and went home. The next day she got all over me because I put her food away. I tried to explain about bacteria forming and maybe making her sick, but she just laughed at me and said she had never refrigerated her food. She had lived on the Rosebud reservation most of her life, and never had a refrigerator. They cooked their food, left it out, and the next day they would heat it to boiling , let it boil for a minute or two and eat it. She was 98 years old, so I decided if she hadn’t died yet, she knew what she was talking about. I left the food out and heated it for her 24 hours later. I ate with her every day and never had any problems. I was a nurse and this was against everything I learned in nursing, but it is good to know that I can live without refrigeration if I have to. The important thing is cook the food well the 1st time and reheat it to boiling 2nd time. I hope it doesn’t come to no power, but I am reading all of your great ideas !

  21. Rick Rosado says:

    Is there a book on all of this ? And where can I get one ?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Rick,

      Here comes a couple of shameless plugs: my book Survival: Prepare Before Disaster Strikes covers food storage and work-arounds, available at Amazon. David Morris’ book, Urban Survival Guide is an excellent reference book, and so are his lesson’s.

    • john raney says:

      back wood home jornal. com

    • Go to your local Agricultural Extension Agency, each state and county has an office, filled with lots of free information on farming, preserving, canning, and all sorts of survival stuff.

  22. My boss stores his eggs for over two years. He coats the egg in butter and then stores them in salt. He has his own chickens and buckets that he places the eggs. Last week he came in stating “Today I ate two year old eggs.” He is still breathing today. So for what that is worth. Do some research and see what you come up with. Keep up the good work Dave.

  23. Whole different subject, but recently found source for powdered shortening & am thrilled as had wondered how to manage biscuits, etc. without shortening, baking powder, etc. & had not found another source. Augason Farms home site has it & Sam’s Club carries many of their products at lower price than on their direct site, but not the shortening. Can’t wait for rest of series on bread starter & cheese because my research with cheese makers say you have to make fresh cheese to store or all you have is stored OLD, not tasty cheese. Not sure I want to invest in cheese making time, cultures, etc. so eager to see what other ways there are.

    • Survival Diva says:

      Jackie,

      What a great find! Powdered shortening…had never seen it available anywhere! For anyone with shortening that has gone rancid, you can use it for a “candle” by putting a wick into it ( : Strange…but true. HATE tossing anything out!

      • Interesting idea…I recently found that an entire case of canned butter had gone rancid. I was going to throw it out, but the candle idea is a great one. Thanks!

      • rainydayfoods. com/shop/index.php/shop/dairy.html has powdered butter, sour cream, margarine, shortening, cheddar cheese, buttermilk. Great stuff for making mixes too.

  24. Recently bought “water glass” (or KePeg) from Happy Hovel Storable Foods (www.happyhovelfoods.com) but they’re far more specific about useable eggs for storage (i.e. store bought no more than 1 mo. old; fresh less than 3 days old) almost turned me off from trying since I don’t have access to fresh & it’s hard to know date on store bought. But, now think will try again using “jar” method. By the way, KePeg is really expensive – $75 for 40 grams! Insturctions on jar are to rub on, nothing about diluting with water for jar method. Will need to research if can use their product for jar storage.

    • Survival Diva says:

      Jackie,

      Sodium silicate can be special ordered through some of the larger pharmacies. Try WallMart, or WalGreens. Lehman’s has it, but their price and shipping might be a bit high.

  25. There is a 3rd storage method availables. I dehydrate my extra eggs. Scramble and cook thoroughtly breading into small chunks. Dehydrate until brittle. Grind to powder. (use the blender while you still have electric) then put in a canning jar for storage for up to a year. Use 2 tbsp of powder and 1 tbsp of water to add an egg to your recipe. Use same formula to rehydrate and make scrambled eggs. Add some seasoning to enhance flavor.
    Add for added info for those who may doubt storing without refridgeration I use the mineral oil method regularly for my extra eggs. I currently have 17 doz laid in for winter usage.

  26. wouldn’t it be easier to just pack up some powdered eggs?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Rick,

      It is most definitely easier to buy powdered eggs, but for us broke folks, or those who don’t want to make their own egg powder, it isn’t cheaper ( :

      For anyone interested in dehydrated eggs, Honeyville Grain has # 10 cans of whole dehydrated eggs for $19.69. It may be cheaper elsewhere, but I like their $4.45 shipping charge, no matter what the weight of the order. My 400 lb. corn order was $4.45 shipping. BTW, I am NOT an affiliate of Honeyville Grain.

      • Emergency Essentials is a great resource for many things comestible and related. They have monthly sales, fixed shipping rates, and occasional specials. If you know your prices and plan ahead they can be very helpful.

        As an aside on the storing dairy, we lost power one Halloween for several months here in chilly Phoenix AZ. I put my perishables in Coleman type food chests placed on the north side of the house. After sundown I opened the chests, around 7 am I closed them. We lost almost nothing. This would not have worked any other time of the year for obvious reasons.

    • Powdered would be the easiest storage but not the tastiest. I want to relearn what my grandparents did in the 1800s if for no other reason a container or 2 of powdered eggs will not last in a prolonged SHTF situation.
      Ice house – my childhood home in Missouri started off as a log house built in the late 1800s. It was expanded during the 1st half of 1900s. Under the living room of the newer section (10′ from the original log house) was a pit described as used for ice. Now understand better the full potential of the ice pit – only wish I had climbed under the house and investigated the size and construction methods of the pit.

  27. GREAT INFO. says:

    Will Forward to friends and relations.

    Thank you.

  28. Enjoyed your article but here is some info you might find interesting regarding egg storage:

    (Link removed b/c it didn’t work.)

    • Cheryl, THANK YOU for that link! ( http: //www.motherearthnews. com/Sustainable-Farming/1977-11-01/Fresh-Eggs .aspx )

      Very informative.

    • David Morris says:

      Hey Cheryl,

      I had issues getting the link to work (with and without the extra spaces and www). Please share a summary of what the article said as well as copying and pasting the link.

  29. I remember my grandmoher storing eggs in waterglass in the cellar in Nova Scotia. It meant we could occasionally have custard for dessert in the winter. Custard is my favorite comfort food still.

    Farmer Brown

  30. I’ve been doing the mineral oil method for a few years & it works great.

  31. Growing up in the South(North Carolina) my grandparents had a Spring House where they stored their milk, eggs, and butter. They had a root cellar where they stored much of their garden produce, I remember eating pretty red tomatoes from the root cellar at Christmas. They canned everything, including meats, vegetables, jellies, jams, preserves, and cured their own hams. They were almost totally self sufficient, only going to town to buy coffee, flour, and sugar. My grandfather plowed the garden with a mule, that was his tractor. My grandmother had a raised bed garden before it ever became stylish to do so, concocting her own recipe for the soil mixture. Remember, we live in the South, not the Tropics, except maybe Florida.

  32. incenseman says:

    If you have a food dryer its very easy to make powdered eggs……12 eggs….scramble…..pour on dryer sheet used for roll up….dehydrate to power…..seal in air tight containers……keeps for several months…..to use just add water….

  33. Lots of good information here. Thanks!

  34. This may be a silly question, but what is water glass?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Beth & David,

      Water Glass is sodium silicate.

      • So what is sodium silicate, where do you get it, and how is it mixed/used?

        • Survival Diva says:

          Mary,

          Sodium silicate is made by fusing sand with sodium carbonate. The instructions are on today’s post. The solution is made from 1-part sodium silicate to 10-parts boiled, cooled water. It can be purchased via special order from larger pharmacies or Lehman’s.

  35. When I was stationed in Antarctica we recieved oil covered fresh eggs in our mid- winter air drop. We ate these for the next 4 1/2 months & they tasted great. Keeping them cool wasn’t a problem at -40 F. Much better than powder eggs.

  36. What the heck is “water glass”?

  37. Jeanette P says:

    I have done this when I have an abundance of eggs and want to save some for times my hens slow down their egg production. It does work!!!

    • Jeanette P says:

      Just remember to use food grade mineral oil. I’ve also heard you can use buckets of sand or salt – just something to keep air from moving in or out of the egg.

  38. Jason Williams says:

    You can use parafin wax to preserve eggs too. More or less the same as the mineral oil method. Then there is always pickling and jarring eggs, if you like pickled eggs. Like most jarred foods, you can plan on saving them for a year or more.

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