How to Water Glass Eggs (To Preserve Them Long Term)

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Learn how to water glass eggs in the springtime or whenever you have extra eggs! Water glassing eggs is an easy way to preserve them for long-term storage. This is one of the easiest food preservation methods ever!

waterglassed eggs in half gallon mason jar

One of my favorite things about having our own chickens is the abundance of beautiful, delicious eggs. In the winter months, we allow our chickens to have a natural rest from laying eggs. (We don’t add light to their coop to encourage them to continue laying all winter.) We believe we have healthier hens because we allow their bodies to have this seasonal break they would naturally get in nature.

So even though egg production drops in the winter, by springtime we can sometimes become overrun with eggs! In the spring and summer months, when the daylight hours increase, our chickens start laying again, and our kitchen can become filled with eggs. This spring, we’ve had as many as around twenty-five dozen eggs in our kitchen at one time!

large stoneware bowl full of chicken eggs on kitchen counter

During the spring and early summer, we’re always looking for ways to use up eggs. Even though we enjoy lots of quichebreakfast casseroleDutch puff pancakes, scrambled eggs, and Instant Pot hard boiled eggs, there are still eggs to contend with. We give them away to friends and family, but there are still so many!

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m definitely not. It’s a good “problem” to have!

There are many ways to preserve eggs for later, but learning how to water glass eggs for long-term storage has been a game-changer. It’s so easy. So now, in addition to freezing raw eggs and using fresh eggs in recipes, I have water glassed eggs on my pantry shelves.

What Is Water Glassing?

Water-glassing eggs is one of the oldest methods of preserving eggs. The hatchery where we buy our chickens started encouraging people to try this method several years ago, when there was an egg shortage.

I was a bit skeptical since I hadn’t heard of it before, but the information from our hatchery convinced me to try it.

After looking at the research from our hatchery, they shared that water-glassing eggs has been around since at least the late 1800s. In the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, it says: 

“Foods are preserved by exclusion of air in other ways than canning. Examples: Grapes in bran, eggs in lime-water, etc.”

ways of preserving from fannie farmer cookbook

And in the section on eggs, the Boston Cooking School Cookbook says:

“Ways of Keeping Eggs. I. Pack in sawdust, small end down. II. Keep in lime water. III. From July to September, a large number of eggs are packed, small ends down, in cases having compartments, one for each egg, and kept in cold storage.” 

page of text from fanny farmer cookbook about how to water glass eggs

Water-glassing eggs is simply preserving fresh, clean eggs in lime water. This old-fashioned way of preserving eggs uses the lime water to prevent bacterial growth. 

Take note that in order for this process to work, the eggs must be fresh, clean, unwashed, and free of any cracks. Which means this is a great way to preserve eggs from your backyard chickens (and should not be attempted with eggs from the store, or any eggs that have been washed).

clean chicken eggs on a striped linen dish towel

Why We Preserve Eggs

One of our goals with our small homestead efforts is to not have to rely on the grocery store as much for our food. We live in a rural area with only one grocery store option in our small town. Because there is only one store here, the prices are ridiculously high.

So we usually do our main grocery shopping in a larger town that’s 45 minutes away. We try to plan well so that we’re not needing to rush to the grocery store at the last minute for needed items. I try to keep a well-stocked pantry, and we shop in bulk with a food co-op.

This is one of the main reasons we got chickens. We wanted our own fresh eggs from our own chickens. Once you get used to homegrown eggs, it’s hard to go back to “store eggs.”

In the spring and summer months, we have an abundance of eggs. But in the late fall and winter months, egg production usually goes way down and sometimes even stops altogether.

That’s why it’s a good idea to preserve eggs. If you have a way to preserve them (either in a recipe, by freezing, freeze-drying, or some other way, like water glassing), you can continue to enjoy eggs from your chickens all year round.

Affiliate links included below, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

chicken eggs in a glass half gallon mason jar

Frequently Asked Questions

Since water glassing eggs isn’t a common practice these days, many people have questions about the process and the safety of it. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

Can I use eggs from the store? 

No, you should not use eggs from the grocery store. Eggs sold in stores have had the protective layer (or “bloom”) washed off. You want to use clean, farm-fresh eggs that haven’t been washed. Eggs have a natural protective coating on them that inhibits bacterial growth, and you want this to be intact when you water glass them.

Can I use tap water to water glass eggs?

Tap water containing chlorine is not recommended. If you have a well, tap water may be fine. I use my Berkey water filter to filter the water used for water glassing the eggs.

Can you rinse eggs before water glassing?

No, you should not wash or rinse eggs before water glassing them. You want to use fresh eggs that are clean and free of any debris, but you don’t want to wash the protective coating off of the eggs. This is why it’s best to use eggs from your own chickens or buy eggs from a friend or farmer who can guarantee that the eggs are unwashed.

Can you wipe off eggs before water glassing?

You should be choosing the cleanest possible eggs for this egg preservation method. If there is a tiny bit of dirt (not mud), you could try to gently brush it off with a cloth. But you shouldn’t use water on the egg, and you shouldn’t scrub it, both of which could damage the egg’s protective layer or damage the shell.

waterglass eggs in a half gallon mason jar

Are Water Glass Eggs Safe?

There are no guarantees with food preservation, so I would recommend doing your own research and then deciding if you want to try it. This method for egg preservation has been used since the 1800s, and there are no documented cases that I could find of adverse outcomes when consuming properly water-glassed eggs. If all of the precautions (like only using the freshest eggs, not using store-bought eggs or dirty eggs, and not washing eggs before preserving) and all of the instructions are carefully followed, this method is considered safe by many, who have been water glassing eggs for decades or longer. I know many homesteaders who have been using this method of preserving eggs for years.

I do recommend carefully inspecting any water glassed eggs before use, and if you have any doubt (for instance, if they smell bad), throw them out.

If you decide water-glassing your extra eggs isn’t an option for you, there are several other ways for preserving your eggs, like freezing and freeze-drying, or just using them in recipes like quiche that you freeze for later). 

supplies for water glass eggs, including a bag of pickling lime and a half gallon mason jar

Supplies Needed

Half-Gallon Mason Jar with a Lid:  The size of your container will depend on how many eggs you want to water glass at a time. For this tutorial, I’m using a half-gallon jar, but you can use a gallon jar or even food-grade buckets if you want to preserve more eggs. I prefer half gallon jars because they fit well on my pantry shelves.

Kitchen Scale: You’ll need a kitchen scale to weigh out your pickling lime.

Glass Measuring Cup: This glass measuring cup is useful for measuring your water.

Water Filter: If you’re not on well water, you’ll want to get some clean, filtered water for this project. I use our Berkey water filter.

three chicken eggs in the bottom of a half gallon mason jar

Ingredients

The full ingredient amounts and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Eggs: You’ll want to use clean unwashed eggs. If you have backyard chickens, choose the cleanest eggs that are as fresh as possible. This means they should not have mud, dirt, or poop or other debris on them, and you should not use older eggs. If you find a cracked egg, do not use it.

Pickling Lime: I use this pickling lime. This is Calcium Hydroxide, and it is also used for making pickles.

Water: You want to use water that has not been treated with chlorine or fluoride. Well water, filtered water, and distilled water will all work. I use our Berkey water filter to filter the water.

How to Water Glass Eggs

Thoroughly wash a half gallon jar and lid. 

Add clean eggs to the jar with the small (pointed) end down. 

a woman's hand putting an egg in a half gallon mason jar

Add filtered water to a bowl or a large measuring cup.

Weigh out lime and add to the water, whisking until dissolved.

hydrated pickling lime in a measuring cup

Pour lime water mixture over the eggs in the jar, making sure they are completely covered with the lime water. At first, the lime water will look milky and cloudy, but after awhile it will settle.

chicken eggs waterglassed in a half gallon mason jar

Add the lid to the jar and screw on tightly. Be sure to add the date to your lid.

Store water glassed eggs in a cool, dark place.

According to most sources, water-glassed eggs should last for at least a year, with some sources stating they can last 12-18 months.

Note: It is totally normal for the lime to settle at the bottom of your jar.

water glass eggs in glass mason jar with pickling lime

If you want to water glass a larger amount of eggs, use a ratio of 1 ounce of pickling lime to 1 quart of water.

How to Use Water Glassed Eggs

When you’re ready to use your water glassed eggs, all you do is remove them from the container of lime water and wash them. You want to thoroughly wash off all of the lime water before using them.

Properly preserved and washed eggs can be used just as you would use a fresh egg. The longer they are stored, the texture of the egg (when you crack it) may change slightly.

Before using your preserved eggs, carefully inspect them for any cracks. If the eggs smell bad, do not use them, but throw them away.

More Egg Recipes

How to Water Glass Eggs

Learn how to water glass eggs in pickling lime to preserve them long-term. Water-glassed eggs can then be stored on the pantry shelf to use just as you would use fresh eggs.
Prep Time5 minutes
Time to Make10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Food Preservation
Cuisine: American
Keyword: eggs, food preservation
Author: Joy Kincaid

Ingredients

  • 1 quart water filtered or distilled
  • 1 ounce pickling lime
  • fresh, clean, unwashed eggs (do not use store-bought eggs)

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash a half gallon jar and lid.
  • Add clean eggs to the jar with the small (pointed) end down.
  • Add filtered water to a bowl or a large measuring cup. Weigh out lime and add to the water, whisking until dissolved.
  • Pour lime water mixture over the eggs in the jar, making sure they are completely covered with the lime water.
  • Add the lid to the jar and screw on tightly. Be sure to add the date to your lid. Store water glassed eggs in a cool, dark place.
  • According to most sources, water-glassed eggs should last for at least a year.

Notes

It is totally normal for the lime to settle at the bottom of your jar.
If you want to water glass a larger amount of eggs, use a ratio of 1 ounce of pickling lime to 1 quart of water.
When you’re ready to use your water glassed eggs, all you do is carefully remove them from the container of lime water and wash them thoroughly. You want to wash off all of the lime water before using them.
Properly preserved and washed eggs can be used just as you would use a fresh egg. The longer they are stored, the texture may change slightly.
Before using your preserved eggs, carefully inspect them for any cracks. If the eggs smell bad, do not use them, but throw them away.

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