October 2, 2014

Dehydrating Eggs

Back in my Y2K prepper days, one of the things I bought for my food storage was powdered eggs. Of course we didn't need them for the much speculated Y2K disaster, but I did find them very handy to use at a time when I didn't have chickens. It would also be handy for winter, when the hens aren't laying well. When I started doing some research for a project, I decided to give this a try myself.

The first step is to beat them well.

Eggs can be dehydrated either cooked (as in dried scrambled eggs) or raw. There are warnings about dehydrating raw eggs, however, due to concerns about salmonella, that fairly ubiquitous bacteria associated with food poisoning. It is found both on the shell surface and within the egg itself. This is why commercially dehydrated raw eggs are pasteurized. Salmonella food poisoning outbreaks are usually associated with commercial factory-farm produced eggs. That isn't surprising, really, considering the overcrowded conditions under which these chickens live. The obvious recommendation would be to not use store bought eggs for dehydrating. It doesn't mean salmonella can't be a potential hazard with eggs from free-ranged chickens, just less likely. Salmonella is killed at 160°F (71°C), but food dehydrators top out at 145°F (62.7°C). The precaution would be not to use raw dehydrated eggs without cooking.

I scrambled my eggs in a little coconut oil (you'll read why below).
The dehydrator was set at 145°, the setting for meat, fish, & jerky.

A second consideration is shelf life. Due to the high fat content of egg yolks, they won't keep for more than 3 or 4 months before becoming rancid. Rancidity can also be a problem for dried scrambled eggs cooked in oil. Two possibilities exist here. 1) use a non-stick cooking pan, or 2) use a saturated fat such as coconut oil, palm oil shortening, beef tallow, lard, or clarified butter. Saturated fats do not become rancid as easily as unsaturated oils. Since I only use cast iron and stainless steel cookware, I decided to try the coconut oil. Either way, if the dehydrated eggs can be vacuum packed, refrigerated, or frozen, so much the better.

Drying times vary. With our humidity it took about 6 hours to get the eggs
thoroughly dried. Some folks go on to powder them, but I thought, "Why?"

For drying raw eggs, a fruit leather tray is recommended. I don't have one, so I decided to make my own with foil.

Best results are with a thin layer of eggs. I did not use a cooking spray.

When I did my research, I read a lot of folks' experiences. One complaint was that the eggs never got crispy dry but remained pliable. Of course they can't be powdered that way! I followed the advice to never try more than four eggs at a time.

I had to scrape the eggs off the foil, but it worked. 

My biggest problem was unevenness. I had one spot where the eggs took longer to dry. I scraped off the crispy stuff, powdered it in my blender, and let the rest dehydrate a little longer.

They powdered beautifully. The bigger challenge will be keeping them dry.
With our humidity, powdered things (like garlic) tend to clump over time.

The beauty of dried foods is how much less space they take up.

4 dried raw eggs on the left, 6 dried scrambled eggs on the right. If I powder
the scrambled eggs, I'm guessing they'll re-hydrate & cook more like fresh.

To use, mix the powder with equal part water and let sit about 5 or 10 minutes. For the scrambled eggs, I'll try adding an equal part boiling water and soaking, then cooking. Dehydrated eggs must be thoroughly cooked before consuming.

Two tests remain. The cooking tests and the make-it-or-break-it taste tests.
  • Results for the dehydrated raw eggs are here.
  • Results for the dehydrated scrambled eggs are here.

18 comments:

Farmer Barb said...

WOW! That is a lot of study. I want to hear how Dan weighs in on the taste!

Judy said...

I ended up doing all my eggs raw because I didn't like the flavor of the dehydrated scrambled eggs as well as limited uses for the scrambled eggs.

When re-hydrating my raw eggs, mine did not return to a smooth mixture. I may have not had them powdered fine enough. So I let them set for 30 minutes in warm water and then whizzed them in the blender for a little bit until they were smooth. I did about 8 eggs at a time or 2 cups. I did not try putting my egg powder crystals dried in any recipe that called for eggs and then adding the extra water because I wasn't sure they would dissolve completely. I didn't want bits of egg distributed through whatever I was baking. LOL When I make scrambled eggs I always cooked the eggs with lots of goodies in them and I thought they were pretty good.

I also took the sides of my Teflon sheets, folded them up and stapled the corners together so I had a tray of sorts. The sides were pretty floppy though. I bet if I had set them in a tray of aluminum foil that would of helped support the sides. The only complaint I have about the Excalibur dehydrator is the fruit leather sheets need to be trays with a quarter-inch lip like the round dehydrators.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Interesting experiment Leigh. I love attempting skills that support self-sufficiency.
Powdered eggs remind us of the war here and as such are not overly popular!
Looking forward to seeing how the baking goes.
Gill

Meredith said...

Wow - fascinating! I've never heard of anybody dehydrating eggs before... I'd love to hear how they taste and how you use them!

Leigh said...

Barb, he knows I did it, so I'm going to wait and fix them when he isn't aware. That will be an honest test!

Judy, thank you for all that! I read a lot of blog posts about this and was interested that folks's experiences varied so much. Good idea about using the blender.

I didn't get the fruit leather sheets for my Excalibur because I thought they were pretty pricey. There is always something more needful to spend money on!

Gill, I can see how that would make them not very appealing. I have to admit that I'm so used to our fresh eggs that I'm curious as to how well these will substitute.

Meredith, The shelf life seems pretty short (several months), so I'm not sure if it's worth it, especially with our humidity. I have never had a time when my hens stopped laying completely, so I've learned to adjust our usage to what we have. Still, it's an interesting experiment.

M.E. Masterson said...

I would like to see how these pan out...I am curious in how to use powdered eggs in recipes.??

Sandy said...

Leigh,

I second M.E. Materson. Can't wait to hear about your taste tests.

Nina said...

dehydrated eggs,ick! I don`t like the taste, regardless. Despite having layer hens, we aren`t big egg eaters here. Except when I want to make angel food cake, I rarely ever need extra eggs in the winter, when only a couple of the girls seem to be laying.

bibliotecaria said...

For the keeping dry purpose, have you considered putting some grains of rice in the jar with the dehydrated eggs? The rice might absorb the moisture and prevent problems with the eggs. It was an idea given to me for keeping salt from caking, which worked, but I don't know how much to attribute to the rice!

Leigh said...

M.E. and Sandy, I believe conventional volume for eggs is: Extra large egg = 4 tablespoons
Large egg = 3.25 tablespoons
Medium egg = 3 tablespoons
So for one large egg I'd mix a rounded tablespoon of powdered eggs with a tablespoon plus a smidge of water, then use in baking recipes as usual. I'll be giving a try and reporting results soon!

Bibliotecaria, I put rice in my salt shakers, but hadn't thought about eggs. I know some folks save those little moisture absorber packets and use them for things like that. The only concern about rice in powdered eggs is how to remove it before cooking(?) Ideas?

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi! Interesting post! I love my dehydrator but have not done a lot of things with it. Since I have to buy my eggs I probably would not do this but will be interested in how yours turn out when you cook them. Nancy

Sandra G said...

Is is possible to freeze the dehydrated eggs so that they don't go rancid? I know you can with wheat flour?

Leigh said...

Nancy, I probably wouldn't do boughten eggs either, but it's a great idea for a homegrown surplus.

Sandra, I think that would be an excellent thing to do. I freeze eggs too, but dehydrated would take up even less room in the freezer.

Terri Presser said...

I like this idea, although I liked the dried egg one better than the scrambled. If the shelf life is only a few months it would be a good idea to do before winter when the hens stop laying and they should last until spring when everything comes alive again. Don't know whether I'd be keen to eat them on their own but would be great in baking. Thanks for the tip.

Leigh said...

Terri, it will be interesting to experiment and see how these taste. I have to agree about use and shelf life. It only seems to be a useful idea of one has a good surplus of eggs, Then, yes, having a few to get through the non-laying months would be helpful. Freezing or vacuum packing the already dried eggs might help too, I'm thinking.

Stephanie Bateman said...

I had no idea they had to be cooked first, thanks for sharing!

http://caffeinatedhomestead.weebly.com/blog

Jake said...

For the powdered eggs on the left in the last picture, they might be fine enough that you could separate them from the rice by sifting through a wire strainer of the right-size mesh.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, looks like I fell behind in responding to comments, LOL. As long as their cooked one way or another I think it would be okay.

Jake, I confess I never actually tried the rice, but that's a very good idea. I stored them in the fridge instead, more for concerns for longer preservation. Just tried the dried ones the other day. Stay tuned for a report! :)