Refrigerators have only been around for about 80 years, so how did we keep eggs preserved prior to that? A very simple and effective method, water glassing eggs, has been around for generations. Today, I want to show you how to use this vintage method “Water Glassing Eggs: Preserving Eggs Long-Term”!
Water Glassing in History
The water glassing of eggs has been in use since the 1800’s. It was made popular by a Fannie Farmer cookbook entitled “The Boston Cooking School Cookbook”, where the recipe was printed.
Can You Water Glass Store-Bought Eggs?
The preservation method of water glassing can only be used with clean (meaning free from debris, egg remnants or dirt) farm-fresh eggs.
The reason for this is that store-bought eggs have been washed, bleached and are almost 2 weeks old by the time you purchase them at the store.
Farm-fresh eggs are a completely different ‘bird’…(pun intended).
Farm-fresh eggs still have the “cuticle” or the “bloom” intact. The “bloom” is an invisible, anti-bacterial film on the egg, which keeps the egg fresh. Once that is removed, through washing, the egg becomes very porous and begins to deteriorate immediately.
The absence of the bloom will also allow the lime mixture to be absorbed into the egg, which is inedible.
Water Glassing Eggs Recipe
Depending upon the number of eggs you want to water glass, you may want to use 1/2 mason jars or you can use 5-gallon buckets.
Whatever vessel you use, make sure it’s very clean!
You will need:
- Clean farm fresh eggs that are unwashed (store eggs won’t work)
- Very clean 5-gallon bucket with lid or large mason jar
- 8 oz. pickling lime
- Filtered, distilled or water that has been boiled and cooled (Don’t Skimp on This!)
The pickling lime is pretty easy to find, anywhere that carries canning supplies should have it.
What is the Water Glassing/ Lime Ratio?
The ratio of one quart of water to one ounce of lime is the accepted way of water glassing.
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How to Water Glass Eggs
Again, you’re going to need farm fresh eggs, not store-bought ones.
Scrub your 5-gallon bucket and lid with hot, soapy water! Clean, clean, clean!!
Use only your cleanest farm-fresh eggs for water glassing.
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Fill your very clean bucket with 8 quarts of distilled, RO or filtered water.
Add 8 oz. of the pickling lime and stir. Avoid inhaling!
Then, slowly place your “clean” eggs in the solution.
I used one dry hand to grab the eggs and then placed them in the other wet hand to lower into the solution. Be very gentle during this process, as if you crack an egg, the entire batch will be ruined.
Date your bucket and keep your bucket covered!
I’m not sure how many eggs you can get in a 5-gallon bucket, but my guess would be 6-7 dozen.
As fast as our eggs are coming in, I might fill 2-3 buckets.
Where Should I Store the Bucket?
Think about the best place to store food: a cool, dry and dark place.
If you have a cool place in your home, like a basement or lower level, put your egg bucket there.
Avoid light as much as possible. I happen to have a lower-level laundry room that is always a bit on the cool side.
Water Glassing Eggs Safety
Is it safe to water glass eggs?
Absolutely! This method has been used for many generations! Stick with the recommendations and water glassing will serve you well!
Using Water Glassed Eggs
First, RINSE them off! You don’t want to consume the lime!
The shells of your water-glassed eggs will be a bit more fragile than a regular egg. Therefore, do not try to boil your eggs, the shell will not hold up.
However, you can prepare them just about any other way: fried, scrambled or use for baking.
How Long do Water Glass Eggs Last?
Some reports say that the eggs will keep for up to a year, others say 2 years.
Frankly, due to constant egg consumption in my home, I’ve never tested this past 9 months.
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After 4+ months, here’s a picture of the eggs I pulled out from the very bottom of my bucket (the first ones I put in), and the picture of what they looked like when I cracked open. The yolk and the white were firm and looked great!
These water glassed eggs are 7 months old. I just rinsed them off and put them in this basket.
This is an egg from that basket, look how well the yolk has held together! Perfect for eating or baking with.
Water glassing will serve you well, especially during those times when your hens are laying faster than you can eat them!
Put this old-fashioned, egg preservation method to work on your homestead!
This Post Has 29 Comments
Did your eggs end up lasting? Did they taste ok?
Hi Victoria! It’s been just a month since I wrote the post, so I will let you know come fall how they turned out! I’m very excited and expecting good results! Thanks for commenting!
Hi I was just wandering if after pickling them don’t hey have a different taste?
Hi Misty! Great question, but no, they do not taste any different. This isn’t pickling, even though we are using pickling lime. I rinse my eggs off real well when taking them out of the lime water before I use them. Thanks for asking!
can they be refrigerated before glassing?
You cannot water glass store-bought eggs, if that’s the reason they are in the refrigerator. Store-bought eggs have been washed and bleached, thereby losing the essential “bloom” or cuticle from the egg.
I hope that answers your question!
What if they are farm fresh eggs that have not been washed but were put in the fridge a few days ago?
That’s a very good question! I actually had that same situation and here’s the conclusion I came up with. The condensation on my refrigerated eggs were enough to dissolve the cuticle on the egg, even if I patted them dry. I would not use these for lime water preservation. Hope that helps!
to you long to you keep in pickling,be fore you get the first egg out to eat?
Hi Lorraine! I think the answer to that question will vary from person to person. However, I started water-glassing eggs in the spring when the hens are laying like crazy. Then, once I have a 5-gallon bucket full of eggs, I go back to using the fresh eggs that are available and keep the water-glassed eggs for the fall and winter. So, for me, the eggs are at least 6 months old and up to 12 months before I finish using up the bucket. I hope that answers your question.
Can you add eggs to the mason jar as you get farm fresh eggs? I don’t have enough to fill the jar up all at once, since i buy mine from a friend who has chickens.
The answer is YES to both of your questions! Just make your lime water and add eggs as you get them. You can put your eggs in any container you want, my thinking is that a quart jar might be a bit small. Great questions, thank you!
Can you water glass your farm fresh eggs in quart jars? 1/2 gal or 5 gal buckets for me are huge.
i used 8 oz (1cup) instead of 8oz by weight. Will my eggs be ruined?
If you used one cup of pickling lime to 8 quarts of water, you’re fine. 🙂
I just filled a glass jar with 5 dozen fresh eggs. I actually had to purchase some from a Neighbor that picked them this morning. I don’t have the lid on this jar. I’m going to put plastic wrap over the top. Wish me Luck.
That’s awesome Kathy!!! Well done!
Hey I’m trying this with fresh eggs and some floats in the water??
So I’m taking them out. What does that mean?
Unfortunately, those eggs are probably bad. Whenever an egg floats, that indicates that the eggs aren’t good. I’m sorry!
Do the eggs have to be glassed the same day as they are laid? Or can the be older farm fresh eggs ?
I’m not sure what you mean by “older” but as long as the egg is still good, it will work. My suggestion would be to use eggs that are less than a couple of weeks old to be safe. I keep a 5 gallon bucket full of the lime solution and put my cleanest eggs in right away when I bring them in. Just having a system in place helps to make it happen! 🙂 Hope this helps!
So you can just takes the eggs out as you need them? It doesn’t contaminate the solution? If I just needed 2..it’s fine to open and grab 2 and seal the jar back? And do you wash the eggs off first good before you can them in the solution to begin with? Thank you!
To answer your questions, yes, you can just take out two eggs and put the lid back on. I would recommend washing hands before and after handling the lime water eggs. Next, DO NOT wash your eggs before you put them in the lime water. By washing them, you remove the cuticle, or the “bloom”, which is what keeps the egg fresh. You use farm-fresh, unwashed eggs that are free of poo for water glassing. You wouldn’t want to use eggs that have any sort of visable dirt, poo or dried yolk, etc. Only use the cleanest eggs from the chickens. I hope that answers your questions, hit me back if you need more clarification!
Does it matter how I place the eggs in the jar? Some say small end down Or fat end up — does it matter?
It is suggested that eggs be stored pointed side down when placed in a carton. However, when you’re water-glassing eggs, it’s difficult if not impossible to keep them positioned that way. I store my eggs in a 5-gallon bucket and they aren’t all pointed down, lol, I can’t control that, no one can. The eggs will be fine in a water-glassing situation. Great question!
We did our first batch, 5 gal bucket last spring. Started using the eggs just recently. Most of the yolks are broken when I crack the eggs. They look and smell fine. Did something go wrong? We have eaten them and they taste fine.
Hey Tammy! This is a great question about a very common problem when storing eggs long-term. There are various reasons this can happen and it’s difficult to pin down exactly what the problem is. My eggs do this as well sometimes and it’s because the egg absorbs water, obviously from the lime water, causing the yolk to swell just enough to break the membrane. There are other reasons that the yolk might bread, like stress on the bird, improper handling, low-protein diet, but as you said, they taste fine. Hope this helps!
Can you use pickling salt or does it have to be pickling lime?
Hi Judy! You need to use picking lime to preserve eggs, great question!