Hens normally lay most of their eggs during the spring and summer when there is more natural daylight. They slow down or stop laying eggs in the darker winter months. In the 1800s, people needed to preserve eggs that were laid in the spring so they would last through the winter.
Today, poultry can be raised under artificial light and we have refrigeration, so we don’t have to worry about egg shortages.
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:
If eggs are to be preserved, they should not be washed unless their condition compels it, as washing removes the natural covering of the pores. They should be stored in a clean, cool place, and packed as soon as possible.
Eggs should not be packed for winter use later than the middle of May or earlier than the first of April. Each method for the preserving of eggs is based on the theory that decay is hindered when the shell is covered with some substance that renders it air-tight and prevents evaporation or the entrance of bacteria and mold.
It will be well to note, however, that eggs preserved for any length of time deteriorate to some extent and cannot be expected to be equally as good as fresh eggs.
PRESERVE EGGS BY BOILING
If you put eggs into boiling water for one minute, they will keep fresh for a month. Eggs will keep for six months if steeped for a little while in Sweet oil. To keep them merely for plain boiling, you may parboil them for one minute, and then bury them in powdered charcoal with their small ends downward. Some put eggs in a wire basket or a piece of mosquito net and dip them in boiling water half a minute, then pack in sawdust.
TO PACK EGGS
Eggs should always be packed with the small end down, because the yolk will not settle toward the small end so readily as toward the large end or the side.
Of these various ways of preserving eggs in the home, probably the oldest method is that of packing the eggs in salt. Put into a butter firkin* a thick layer of coarse dry salt, then a layer of eggs, another layer of salt, then eggs, and so on until the firkin is full. Cover and keep in a dry place. These eggs will keep put up in this way almost any length of time. You can also pack eggs in oats or bran.
This method is fairly effective, but the eggs preserved by it do not keep so long as eggs preserved by other methods, nor is their quality so good.
* firkin – a small wooden cask
TO GREASE EGGS FOR WINTER
In the spring when eggs are plenty and cheap, it is very well to put up several hundred to use in the winter, when it is very difficult to get them, even in the country.
They are frequently preserved for two or three months by greasing them all over when quite fresh, with melted mutton suet, butter, lard, or paraffin. Then wedge them close together (the small end downwards, with the eggs not touching each other), in a box of bran or sawdust, layer above layer. The box must be closely covered.
Eggs may also be kept a long time by covering them with beeswax dissolved in warm olive or cotton-seed oil. Use one-third wax to two-thirds oil.
By filling up the pores of the shell, the evaporation of the liquid part of the egg is prevented.
Put them in a dry closet and keep them covered over. If they are put in the cellar, they are liable to mold, which spoils them entirely. Do not put in any cracked eggs, or they will injure the rest. In this way, they have been known to keep a year, and were nearly as good for puddings, or batter cakes, as fresh eggs. They do not do to boil, or make pound or sponge cake, as they lose part of their lightening property.
TO KEEP EGGS WITH GLUE
Break some glue into pieces, and boil it in sufficient water to make a thin solution. While warm, dip a brush into it, and go carefully over every egg. They must all be quite fresh. When the eggs are thoroughly glazed with the glue, spread them out to dry. When quite dry, pack them in kegs or boxes, with dry wood-ashes or saw-dust, putting a thick layer of the ashes or saw-dust at the bottom and top of the keg. This is an excellent way of keeping eggs for sea-voyages, and is well worth the trouble. Before using them, soak them in warm water to get off the coating of glue.