By Kellene Bishop
Like many, I tend to be an emotional eater. And dog-gone-it, if I want a fried egg, I want a fried egg. And no amount of seasoning of French name-calling will sufficiently entice me to mentally switch from the envisioned savor of a fried egg to settle for an omelet made from powdered eggs. Yes, this certainly is a problem if I find myself completely out of real, honest to goodness eggs! Powdered eggs and other egg substitutes are great for baking and such, but there’s just nothing else that compares to a real fried egg, over medium--not to mention the fact that it's also been impossible thus far for me to make my sinfully delicious cream puffs with any of the substitutes. So, not one to leave something as important as a hankering for a fried egg to chance, I’m happy to say that there’s a great alternative to powdered eggs or “egg substitutes.
I’ve previously written in great detail how to preserve your real eggs without refrigeration—yet another reason why I’m certain that the folks at the local extension offices hate me fiercely—but I realized recently that I haven’t written about my favorite method of preserving eggs. Thanks once again to my farmer friend for sharing this with me some time ago. It really easy actually, all you need is some good ole fashioned mineral oil, your eggs and cartons, and preferably a pair of food handling gloves. All you’ve got to do is warm up the mineral oil slightly (it spreads easier) and slather it all over your eggs. Put your eggs back in the carton, with the narrow tip facing downwards, and then store them in a cool, dry, place. As an added measure for taste and texture, flip over the eggs every 30 days.
You see, when eggs come out of the chicken they naturally have a coating which enables them to last at cool room temperatures for long periods of time. When you purchase eggs from the store, that natural coating has been washed off and the eggs have been sanitized. When you replace the coating with mineral oil you’re essentially mimicking what Mother Nature did in the first place.
Mineral oil is easily found in your pharmacy section of your grocery stores or more specifically in the digestive aid section of your pharmacies. If you accidentally get part of the shell in whatever you’re making, it’s no problem. A little mineral oil won’t hurt you one bit, and a lot will simply clean you out good! You don’t absolutely have to warm up the mineral oil, but warming it for 10-15 second in the microwave on high will help it spread more evenly over the eggs. I like to use the thin plastic food handling gloves because the slimy feeling of the oil bugs me after a while. A quarter cup of warmed mineral oil will take care of about 6 dozen eggs.
Using this method you can take advantage of great sales on eggs without having to worry about how much room you have left in your refrigerator. This method will enable you to have whole, real eggs for 9 to 12 months past their expiration date. Yes, NINE to TWELVE months without refrigeration. You can use this method on fresh eggs or store-bought eggs. Obviously the fresh ones are going to last longer than the store-bought ones. How do you know when you’ve got a bad egg? Well, your nose will be certain to tell you in an unmistakable manner. I’ve only had one bad egg in all the time I’ve done this. And just in case you’re wondering, one bad egg in the carton does not mean that the rest of them have gone bad—just the one that smells horribly.
It doesn’t matter which kind of egg carton you use, cardboard or foam, although I like the foam better if I had a choice, because I picture the cardboard absorbing my mineral oil. Of course such an issue, if valid, could be rectified by lining the cardboard cartons with plastic wrap. But after trying that a couple of times and finding no difference between the plastic wrapped dozens and the non, I gave up on that extra step.
The downside to this method is that you won’t be able to make traditional egg white dishes such as meringue which requires absolutely fresh egg whites. But otherwise, any time you want some fried eggs with your bacon or as the basis of your fried egg sandwiches, you won’t have to sacrifice taste or texture one iota.
Now suppose you’re one of those readers who reads what I have to say just so that you can tell the rest of the world how absolutely crazy I am. Instead of derision, why not give it a shot and try it? Mineral oil is cheap enough. If all you did was try it on one egg in a carton you might find that I’m right on the money on this one. You may also discover that you’ve just made a heck of a lot more room in your refrigerator with this method and found a way to save tons of money on that overpriced powdered stuff that’s sold out of fear.
Just as an aside, another not-so-well known substitution for eggs in your baking is actually clear gelatin. I purchase the “Ultra maxi gel” from Augason Farms when it goes on sale. (It's SO much cheaper than buying box after box of those tiny Knox Gelatin Brands) Just one of these bags is equivalent to 10+ dozens of eggs for the purposes of baking. And you know how I love my multi-purpose items. This strategy saves me money on using the expensive powdered stuff and also serves as a nutritional supplement and a thickener for sauces, jams, and much more.
A special thanks to my farmer friend who doesn't mind my peppering him with questions all the time, even if it's something as insignificant as asking him why he keeps his fresh eggs on the counter all the time! It was just such a question that turned me on to this method.
Don’t you just love having egg-actly what you want when you want it without having to blow your budget?
Be sure to check out the other articles I've written on this topic. Enjoy!
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