Tuesday, 23 August 2016

09:16 – At Costco Sunday, we picked up a Costco-size pack of eggs, three dozen of them shrink-wrapped in one package. Barbara wondered why I was buying so many eggs, since we use only maybe a dozen every couple weeks. I told her it was for another of my science experiments.

My mother’s mother was born in 1885. I remember her telling me about how they used to preserve fresh eggs by dipping them in water-glass (sodium silicate) solution and then storing them in the cold cellar. They kept for a couple months or longer. Actually, they probably kept for at least a couple weeks sitting on the shelf even without water-glass treatment, because back then they were using eggs straight from the chicken, which still had the air-proof coating that had been applied by the chicken itself.

Actually, it’s still like that in most of the world outside the US and Canada, where, for no good reason, eggs are power-washed before being sold to consumers. That removes the air-proof natural seal and means they then need to be kept refrigerated. In the rest of the world, including Europe, eggs in supermarkets haven’t been washed and are simply shelved without refrigeration.

But any food-safe oil can be used to coat washed eggs, again air-proofing them and making them a lot more shelf-stable. Back in the day, people who didn’t have water-glass used mineral oil, lard, or whatever oil/fat they had available. I suspect that vegetable oil will also work, although it might well go rancid sitting out exposed to air. No matter, because the rancidity would be only on the outer surface of the shell.

So I’m going to test by coating eggs with vegetable oil. I’ll coat 18 of the eggs, one carton, with oil and store them at room temperature. The other carton, I’ll coat with oil and store in the refrigerator, where I suspect they remain good for several months. After a week, I’ll pull three of the room-temperature eggs, float-test them, crack them and examine the appearance and odor, if any, and cook any that seem okay. The next batch of three gets tested after a two weeks, then three more each at three weeks, one month, and two months, and the final three after three months. Of course, the experiment ends when I encounter the first bad egg, whether it’s at one week or two months.