There's No Taste Like Home
If you have your own chickens, then you will know the taste difference between home-raised organic and organically certified eggs because these latter are from hens fed on a fixed approved diet of pelleted grains and pulses, whilst ours, for example, are paleo omnivores. Although our chickens do eat organically certified grain, it is sprouted and thus nutritionally different than dry grain.
Even though part of their protein requirement comes from cultivated cereals, the remainder is well supplemented by invertebrates from our compost heap and whatever our poultry can find or catch, scratching around our garden. That is not to suggest that commercially produced certified organic eggs are not good quality food, they are but they are just not as good as they could be. Pastured hens put such a lot of effort into foraging to produce quality eggs and if you are aware how much they want to turn those into chicks, then you value them equally.
Some of our hens have been laying through the Winter but now we are well into Spring and everything has gone into overdrive. Although we make all of our food from scratch and therefore use eggs in large volumes, plus we eat a full English breakfast everyday, there comes a time when the kitchen table is starting to look like a mass of eggs. There is also the problem that later in the year when we have Summer visitors all of whom need feeding, that all my hens will be broody, off-lay and/or in the moult at the same time. So freezing is a great option.
Getting Organised - Weighing In
The first thing I always do with eggs I am going to freeze as whites and yolks together, is weigh them. Home raised-eggs can vary in weight immensely, unless perhaps from a uniform flock of a single Utility breed of standard size hens and even that is not guaranteed. As the eggs I am freezing are often to be used in different recipes, I firstly weigh them, in shell, allowing 55g (just under 2oz) for a standard egg or 75g (just over 2½oz) if the recipe calls for an extra large egg. If you think in the future you are going to need a specific amount of yolks or whites for a recipe then you should weigh them too before you freeze. The weight for a standard recipe yolk is 18g (2⁄3oz) and a white is 30g (1oz).
We have various breeds and sizes of poultry (as you see from the photos above) from standard sized Polish like Professor Hermann the Tolbunt Polish to Cochin bantams like Snowy (not to mention quail like Ginger). So if you have similar then it is ideal to work out recipes and weights of eggs rather than just freeze them as so many eggs. Although my hens are mostly bantams and thus it can take 3 of my small bantam eggs to make one 'standard' recipe egg, this is not a fixed equivalent. I remember my Father once asking me how many eggs I was putting in a cake and replying, 24! However, some of my bantams regardless of their own physical size, can and do lay standard eggs and most of my Polish crested, though half-standard birds, thus smaller than the usual standard laying hens, can lay extra large eggs! So to avoid confusion I weigh all eggs for my recipes and thus for convenience, when freezing, mark them 'recipe ready'. So for pancakes, sponge cakes, tarts, sauces etc., or just reclassified in standard egg size to give me an idea of how many scrambled eggs for breakfast!
Step 1: Practical Egg Freezing
So if like us your egg boxes and racks are full to overflowing then its time to freeze.
Eggs can be frozen as:
yolks and whites.
For each of the three though, the eggs should be blended together with a fork so as to form a homogeneous mixture.
In the case of 4 yolks or whole eggs, I add a pinch of raw sea salt or a quarter to a half a teaspoon of raw cane sugar, according to the eventual use of the eggs. If you are freezing in larger amounts, scale up accordingly.
I have read various accounts of freezing egg yolks, with the oft repeated suggestion that large volumes, i.e. tablespoons of sugar are needed to freeze them successfully. I have never found this to be the case. In fact as organic sugar is so much sweeter than non-organic, that amount of sugar would, for me, make the egg inedible even within a recipe.
Furthermore if you make sauces, such as mayonnaise, which just require a couple of egg yolks, then freezing is the perfect way to save the whites, until such time as you have enough for say a meringue recipe.
Frozen this way, eggs will remain as versatile an ingredient as when fresh and as recommended by Mrs Beeton, can be kept in the freezer for a year.
Step 2: Storage and Thawing
As we are not keen on plastics, I freeze our eggs in bags made from plant derived polyethylene, the ones shown above are made of sugar cane. These are also more robust than plastic bags and can thus be washed out and used several times before recycling.
When needed, eggs can be left to thaw and then used just as if fresh. I have never had any difficulty in, for example, whipping egg whites to make meringues or ratafias (above).
Pancakes are a favourite alternative Winter breakfast with us and I would challenge anyone either when cooking or eating to tell the difference between those (as above) made with frozen eggs and those made with fresh eggs. In this case, we decided on pancakes at the last minute, so these eggs were actually thawed in a bain-marie of warm water.
Although since we cured Andy's hay fever and eczema with our organically raised quail eggs sixteen years ago he has never had either condition again, we can still keep our glut of quail eggs in the freezer just in case of an emergency.
So I hope this has been of use and given you some food for thought.
Bon Appétit from a farmhouse in Normandie and if you want to see any more of our recipes or tips then please feel free to visit http://simplyorganicrecipes.blogspot.com
All the very best, Sue