Up to this point, we really didn't know of a good way to preserve eggs for the lean times in winter when egg production declines. There are many ways people preserved eggs in the old days, but frankly these don't look too appealing to our eyes.
In China, duck and chicken eggs are preserved by burying them for several weeks in a mixture of clay, ash, salt and quicklime (calcium oxide). The resulting "Thousand Year Eggs" have grey/green yolks and amber whites.
We've tasted these eggs when we visited China several years ago and we can assure you that they taste much better than they look. Having said that, you can't make an omelette out of these and we think most Westerners would be put off by the look. Let's face it, it looks like something that should be on the TV show Fear Factor.
|Chinese "Thousand Year Eggs"|
Western traditional methods of preserving eggs in the shell include storing them in damp sawdust, covering with vaseline and storing in sand, and submerging them in waterglass (a mixture of water and sodium silicate). We've never tried any of these various methods, but Mother Earth New did a number of years ago and they came to the conclusion that you would be better off leaving the eggs unwashed and on the counter than using these various "preservation methods".
Enter The Refrigerator/Freezer
Fortunately, we have a tool that our forbearers did not in the form of the freezer in our refrigerator. I recently tried removing eggs from their shells and freezing the eggs. We then tested them by making omelettes and they were very good. Not as good as omelettes from farm fresh eggs, but good enough that we wouldn't have a problem eating them on a regular basis. In baked goods, we doubt if anyone would be able to taste a difference.
How To Freeze Eggs
Freezing eggs couldn't be simpler. Buy some extra ice cube trays. I like the large silicone molds because they can hold up to two medium sized eggs in each section (see photo below). Now scramble the eggs and the whites together and pour into the ice cube trays. When frozen, remove from the trays, place in plastic freezer bags and place into the freezer.
|Silicone Ice Cube Trays|
When your ready to make eggs, remove a cube from the freezer bag and let thaw. Then make omelettes as you would normally. One thing I should mention is that eggs frozen this way take time to thaw. Remove from the freezer about an hour before you want to use them.
|Egg Frozen and Removed From Ice Cube Tray|
Freezing Egg Whites
If you want to freeze just the egg whites, follow the same procedure mentioned above.
Freezing Egg Yolks
Egg yolks do change in consistency when frozen. If you add a bit of salt, this seems to improve the texture. Use 1/8 teaspoon of salt for every 1/4 cup of yolks (about 4 egg yolks). These will work fine in baked goods, sauces and if you make mayonnaise.