As a homesteader, I always try to find ways to preserve excess food to ensure that nothing goes to waste. When my chickens started laying more eggs than my family could consume, I researched different methods of preserving them and stumbled upon water glassing.
I was intrigued by this centuries-old method of egg preservation that involves storing eggs in lime water. After trying it out, I was amazed at how well it worked, and I knew I had to share it with other homesteaders.
What is Water Glassing?
Water glassing, also known as egg bottling, is a method of preserving eggs without refrigeration. It involves storing eggs in a solution of lime water, which fills in all the pores of the eggshell and encases them in a shell of “glass”. This glass coating helps to protect the eggs from bacteria and moisture, which are the main culprits of egg spoilage. Eggs stored in lime water can last for up to two years when stored at room temperature.
The Origins of Water Glassing
Water glassing is not a new method of food preservation. In fact, it has been used since the 1800s and was common even into the 1940s and 50s. Back then, refrigeration was not widely available, and people had to find creative ways to preserve their food. Water glassing was a popular method because it was easy and inexpensive, and it allowed people to store eggs for long periods of time without worrying about spoilage.
The Process of Water Glassing
Water glassing is a simple process that requires only two ingredients: lime (calcium hydroxide) and water. The ratio is one ounce (by weight) of lime to one quart of water. It is important to use only fresh, unwashed eggs, as commercial eggs have had their protective coating (bloom) washed off the shell and will quickly go bad.
To make the lime-water solution, dissolve the lime in water until it becomes a clear, saturated solution. Then, carefully place the eggs in a jar or container and pour the lime water over them, making sure they are completely covered. A gallon-size container will store about 40 eggs. Finally, cover the jar or container with a lid or plastic wrap and store it in a cool, dry place.
Other Solutions for Water Glassing.
Another ingredient that can be used in water glassing is sodium silicate, which is also known as liquid glass. Sodium silicate is a clear, viscous liquid that is made by combining silica and sodium carbonate. It is commonly used in industrial applications such as adhesives, coatings, and detergents, but it can also be used for preserving eggs.
To use sodium silicate for water glassing, you will need to mix it with water to create a solution. The ratio of sodium silicate to water will depend on the concentration of the sodium silicate that you are using, so be sure to follow the instructions on the package. Generally, a ratio of one part sodium silicate to nine parts water will create a solution with a concentration of around 10%.
Once you have your sodium silicate solution, you can use it to preserve your eggs in the same way as the lime-water solution. Carefully place the eggs in a jar or container and pour the solution over them, making sure they are completely covered. Then, cover the jar or container with a lid or plastic wrap and store it in a cool, dry place.
One advantage of using sodium silicate instead of lime water is that it is less alkaline, which means that it is less likely to affect the taste of the eggs. However, sodium silicate can be more difficult to find and more expensive than lime, so many homesteaders still prefer to use lime water for water glassing.
Do You Have to Keep Stirring the Solution?
One of the most frequently asked questions about water glassing is whether you need to stir the solution once it has been mixed. The answer is no. Pickling lime is a super-saturated solution, which means that the extra lime that cannot dissolve in the water settles to the bottom. This settling of the lime is normal and does not affect the efficacy of the solution. You do not need to stir periodically as the actual solution will not settle out. However, it is recommended to mix enough so that a little does settle out, so you know you have a full solution.
Can You Remove Eggs as You Need Them?
Another common question about water glassing is whether you can remove eggs as you need them and leave the rest of the eggs in the jar. The answer is yes. You can remove eggs from the jar as you need them, as long as you replace the lime water solution with a fresh one every year. Just be sure to rinse the eggs thoroughly before cracking them open, or they will taste like lime.
Is Lime Water Safe?
Some people may be concerned about the safety of using lime water to preserve eggs. However, lime (calcium hydroxide) or Sodium Silicate is a completely natural and organic ingredient and is harmless when used in small amounts. The powder is very fine and may irritate your lungs if you breathe it in, so it is recommended to wear a mask when mixing the lime with water. Once the lime is dissolved, the solution is safe to handle and use.
Benefits of Water Glassing
There are several benefits to using water glassing to preserve eggs:
- Longer Shelf Life: Eggs stored in lime water can last up to two years, making it a great way to store excess eggs.
- Saves Money: By preserving your own eggs, you can save money on buying eggs or having to dispose of excess eggs.
- Easy to Do: Water glassing is a simple and easy method of preserving eggs that does not require any special equipment or skills.
- Versatile: You can use water glassing to preserve eggs from a variety of poultry, including chickens, ducks, and geese.
- Natural: Water glassing is a natural and organic method of preserving eggs that does not require any preservatives or chemicals.
In conclusion, water glassing is a great way to preserve excess eggs without refrigeration. It is a simple, easy, and natural method that has been used for centuries. If you are a homesteader or just looking to save money on eggs, give water glassing a try!