Frozen Egg Tips and Tricks
Here in Ohio, we enjoyed a nice but crazy spring, a hot and dry summer, and for some a colorful fall. But the writing is on the wall for those of us who live in climates with cold winters. Daylight seems scarce and freezing temperatures are coming. Some days it feels like they are already here. We tend to remember that we need to take care of our flocks. We keep the coop clean and dry, add extra bedding and maybe insulation and make sure the water is fresh and not frozen, but it’s important to remember that eggs need extra care too.
It’s always a good idea to collect eggs at least twice a day, but when the temperatures are freezing or very hot, more often is even better. If you know that your hens tend to finish laying before noon, try to add another collection time during lunch or early afternoon. This may not always be possible, in such cases, your hens may help you. As your hens use the nest box to lay, they will also be warming the eggs. While chickens tend to be less broody in the winter, if you have one go broody, you may want to allow her to work for you as an egg warmer rather than trying to stop her from sitting right away.
You might be wondering why it is important to keep eggs from freezing. Freezing causes expansion of both the yolk and the white which may cause both visible and hairline cracks in the shell. Once an egg is cracked, it will be exposed to bacteria and contamination which can make it unsafe to use. Freezing may cause changes in texture and consistency that make the eggs less palatable or desirable for certain types of baking too. The USDA says, “Shell eggs should not be frozen. If an egg accidentally freezes and the shell cracked during freezing, discard the egg. However, if the egg did not crack, keep it frozen until needed; then thaw it in the refrigerator. It can be hard cooked successfully but other uses may be limited because freezing causes the yolk to become thick and syrupy so it will not flow like an unfrozen yolk or blend very well with the egg white or other ingredients.
When you do want to freeze eggs, start with fresh, clean, undamaged eggs. Crack them and remove them from the shell before freezing. Whole eggs can be beaten together or the whites and yolks can each be frozen separately. Some people use ice cube trays or muffin tins for portioning, for instance, one egg white per cube. Once frozen, these eggs need to be transferred to a sealed freezer safe container or bag. To freeze egg whites, simply separate the white and yolk. Place the whites into a freezer safe container or bag and seal it. Label the bag or container with the amount and date. Place the container in the freezer.
To freeze yolks without leaving gelatinous protein clumps upon thawing, America’s Test Kitchen recommends making and mixing a simple syrup of 2 parts sugar and one part water with your egg yolks. Mix ¾ teaspoon of the simple syrup with 4 egg yolks in a sealed container or bag and freeze. Once thawed this is easily used in baking recipes. Another option for freezing yolks is to mix 1 ½ teaspoons of corn syrup and a pinch of salt with 4 egg yolks before freezing.
For a main dish, you may not want yolks sweetened. Try mixing about ⅛ teaspoon salt with 4 egg yolks and freeze in a sealed container or freezer bag. Make sure to date and label if you’ve added just the salt or sweetened syrup so you know in which type of recipe to use the thawed yolks.
Frozen eggs, whites and yolks should be thawed in the refrigerator and used within a day of being thawed. Use thawed eggs, whites or yolks in omelets, scrambled eggs, baking or the whites can be beaten into meringues. Egg whites, yolks and beaten whole eggs, if frozen at 0 degrees F or below and stored in sealed freezer safe containers, should last up to a year.
Watch to learn more about freezing eggs and saving a basket full for use when your hens have slowed down laying.
We hope that you find these tips and tricks helpful when you find yourself with frozen eggs from your nest boxes. Leave us a message and let us know how you’ve dealt with frozen eggs from your coop.
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