December 15, 2016

More on Egg Preservation: Liming

Several weeks ago I shared my egg preservation techniques in my "Putting Eggs By" blog post. In the comments we discussed an additional method - liming. I mentioned that I'd heard of liming eggs, but was put off trying it because of reports that it affected the flavor of the eggs, making them taste "limey."  Others reported satisfactory success with it, so I decided to take my own advice and not rely on what others say, but to collect my own experiential data and see for myself.

It was very easy to do.

The recipe is:
  • 16 parts water
  • 1 part canning salt
  • 2 parts food grade hydrated lime (pickling lime)
For my one gallon crock and 20 eggs that came out to:
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup canning salt
  • 1 cup pickling lime

Canning salt is pure salt with no iodine or other additives [besides potassium iodide, table salt can contain sodium silico-aluminate, dextrose (they put sugar in salt!, particularly iodized salt), and sodium bicarbonate. Sea salt contains natural minerals. It isn't recommended for canning because it can make the water in the jar cloudy (I do know this from experience). Would it make a difference for liming eggs? I don't know.]

Pickling lime is food grade hydrated lime. There are different kinds of lime, so it's important to get the correct one (for a rundown on those, see my post on whitewash, here). As an aside, I would never use pickling lime to make pickles, because it's messing with pH which is important for canning safety (more on that here).

The eggs need to be fresh, clean, unwashed, and never refrigerated. Do not use dirty eggs.

Once the salt and lime are dissolved the mixture is very milking looking. Then I added the eggs.

Can you imagine my surprise when the eggs floated? Floating eggs usually means old, unfit-to-eat eggs, but these had been laid within the past several days. The only other answer was the salt.

Gradually the eggs sank and submerged on their own

leaving tell-tale little window-like pools on the surface of the crock contents.

I dated the crock, covered it, and put it in the pantry next to my water glassed eggs.

From time to time I'll try some of these eggs and report my results. We'll see how long they last and how they taste at the end of the experiment.

The attraction to this method over water glassing (for me) is that hydrated lime is much easier to come by than water glass. Plus water glass doesn't keep forever, and because I only need a fraction of the container every year, a lot ends up unusable. Lime is powdered, lasts forever, and has other homestead uses, so I keep it on hand anyway.

Why do these techniques work? Because egg shells are porous. Over time the water content in the egg evaporates creating an air bubble inside the egg. This is why the float test gives you an approximate idea of how old the egg is (useful for when you find that egg stash the chickens hid on you). This happens faster in warm weather, which is why refrigeration helps increase shelf life too. By submersing the egg in a lime/salt or water glass solution, evaporation can't take place so the shelf life is increased without refrigeration.

Also see "A Quick Update on the Limed Eggs."


Mike Yukon said...

Thanks for taking the time and effort for this test. I'll be looking forward to your results.

Leigh said...

Thanks Mike! And I've been meaning to mention - I can't find your blog. I remember visiting but your name in the comments no longer has a link to it.

Meanie said...

Hello Leigh,
Here is a link to a video by Jas Townsend & Sons (historical reenactment supply company); they did an excellent show on egg preservation. Their cooking videos are informative and wonderfully done.
He submerges the eggs in the lime in the shell.
I hope this adds to the discussion!
PS-- Goat barn looks fabulous!

Jason and Michelle said...

I'm interested to see how the eggs turn out!

Ed said...

Really interested in this test as well. You are like America's Test Kitchen for the homesteading scene, telling us the science behind why things work.

Leigh said...

Thank you! I love the Jas Townsend and Sons videos. Got a lot of good information for my "How To Bake Without Baking Powder" from them. I'll have to check out their eggs ones now too.

Leigh said...

Me too!

Leigh said...

Ha! Here's an illustration showing why I love explanations and understanding how and why a thing works.

A mother was teaching her daughter how to cook. "Today's lesson," said the mom, "is how to cook a roast. First we cut off both ends of the roast and put it in the pan."

"Why do you cut the ends off?" asked daughter.

That stopped mother in her tracks. She thought about it and then said, "I don't know. That's the way my mother did it, and her roasts were always wonderful."

The next time they visited grandmother they asked, "Grandma, why do you cut the ends off your roast before you bake it? Is that why it's always so tender and tasty?"

Grandmother replied, "No, that's the only way I can make it fit in my little roasting pan."

While I don't think science can solve as many of the world's problems as folks think it can, it's an invaluable and guide when paired with tradition. ;)

Mike Yukon said...

I've been having some issues with blogger this year and I'm not very skilled at solving issues with it.
However, I think I just fixed it, let me know!

Renee Nefe said...

sounds like the Thanksgiving story... New bride invited her parents for Thanksgiving. Thawing turkey in the asks why there is the dish drainer over the bird. Bride says that's how you always did it. Mom says "but you don't have a cat!"

Renee Nefe said...

I don't remember if you posted about this or not, but when I worked at places with a salad bar the eggs they put out were always frozen. Hard-boiled, chopped, frozen in bags. Probably with a few chemicals because that's how they do everything in the industry... we would put the eggs out still frozen because they would thaw quickly.

Leigh said...

You got it! Thanks! And I see I'm already a follower, so maybe I don't know what I'm doing. :)

Leigh said...

Renee, LOL. Good one. I'll have to add it to my repertoire. :)

Leigh said...

My only experience with freezing hard-boiled eggs is that it makes the whites rubbery! Interesting; I didn't know that.

Sandy Livesay said...


I'm interested in hearing your results of this experiment.

Renee Nefe said...

maybe that's why they were chopped up so small, to keep you from noticing. ???

Leigh said...

I'm very curious myself, especially after reading they develop a "limey" taste. I plan to use my poor sweet husband as a guinea pig. Periodically I'll fix eggs using these but not tell him. He has a pretty sharp sense of taste and smell, so he'll know when they've reached their storage limits!

Fran in Aus said...

Thank you so much for doing this and the waterglass experiment. I'm really looking forward to hearing your results.