Here an egg, there an egg, EVERYWHERE an egg, egg… Old McDonald has lots of eggs! E-I-E-I-O!
How to stockpile this spring staple
It’s spring. Eggs are everywhere at farmers markets. It almost lets us forget that they will be much harder to find come fall. If you love your local eggs and don’t want to be without them come September, you might consider stocking up now and freezing them. It will be like nutritious, delicious money in the bank in a few months when all the local farms’ hens are on vacation and eggs almost disappear from markets.
Eggs are a seasonal product but our access to year-round eggs in grocery stores has let us all forget this. Hens on a small, local farm will lay like crazy in the spring and then their production tapers off in late summer. This is caused by the change in day-length. As the days start to shorten, the hens’ brains tell them to put the egg business aside and get ready for winter. To do this, the girls will lose some of their old feathers and grow new ones in a process called molting. This takes a lot of energy and the hens’ lay very little or not at all during this time. Egg production will remain relatively low until next spring when the ‘eggstravaganza’ starts all over again.
True, a farm can encourage the hens to lay more through the winter by using timed lighting. In fact, factory-farmed hens never see anything BUT artificial light and so they always think it’s spring. That is how grocery stores have eggs year round. We do use lights to some degree here, but we also believe the girl’s will be healthier and happier if we allow them to molt properly and prepare their bodies for winter. We feel this better respects the hens’ true natures and needs. It also saves electricity! Therefore, eggs remain a seasonal product on our farm.
I know we’re all still waiting for spring to show up but now is a good time to start thinking about fall when it comes to eggs. Stock up while they’re plentiful and freeze them. It’s a simple way to avoid the ‘scramble’ to eat local later in the season. :)
To freeze whole eggs:
Remove shells (seems obvious but I found myself asking that question the first time…lol) and place desired amount of eggs into a clean bowl. Beat just until blended, pour into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of eggs and the date, and freeze.
This is the method we use most and the scrambled eggs we make from these frozen eggs are just as good as the ones made from fresh eggs. We find 6 eggs/container to be a great size for later use.
To freeze fresh egg whites:
Break and separate the eggs, one at a time, making sure that no yolk gets in the whites. Pour the whites into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of egg whites and the date, and freeze. For faster thawing and easier measuring, first freeze each white in a standard ice cube tray. Then transfer to a freezer container. This is more work now but makes life much easier later!
To freeze fresh egg yolks:
Egg yolks tend to thicken or gel when frozen, so you need to give yolks special treatment. If you freeze them as they are, egg yolks will eventually become so gelatinous that they will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. I know this from experience-I could have played ping pong with my first batch of frozen yolks.
To prevent table tennis worthy yolks, beat in either:
- 1/8 teaspoon salt per ¼ cup egg yolks-about 4 yolks. This is for eggs that will be used to cook breakfasts or main dishes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or honey per ¼ cup egg yolks-about 4 yolks. This is for yolks that will be used for baking or desserts.
Label the container with the number of yolks, the date, and whether you’ve added salt or sweetener. Freeze.
To freeze hard-boiled egg yolks:
You can freeze hard-boiled egg yolks to use later for toppings or garnishes. Carefully place the yolks in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to come at least 1 inch above the yolks. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and let the yolks stand, covered, in the hot water about 12 minutes. Remove the yolks with a slotted spoon, drain them well and package them for freezing. It’s best not to freeze hard-boiled whole eggs and hard-boiled whites because they become tough and watery when frozen. You can instead freeze the whites as mentioned above.
To use frozen eggs:
When you’re ready to use frozen eggs, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. Use egg yolks or whole eggs as soon as they’re thawed. Thawed egg whites will beat to better volume if you allow them to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. It's safest to use thawed frozen eggs only in dishes that are thoroughly cooked. For best quality, try to use frozen eggs within one year of freezing.