In the pursuit of easing food waste, here’s what to do when you have more eggs than you can use.
Ok. To be honest, an excess of eggs probably isn’t on the top of everyone’s problems list today … but the fact that you can actually freeze eggs is a perfectly awesome snippet of information to file in your brain somewhere. I’m guessing that at some point in your past or future, if you have a kitchen and use eggs, there have been or will be extra whites or yolks or the whole egg shebang – and in honor of the hens who do all that work, it would be really nice not to let your extra eggs go to waste.
First of all, the skinny on bad eggs. In the United States we wash our eggs which means they require refrigeration (as opposed to European eggs which do not). Uncooked eggs in the shell kept in the fridge can last at least four to five weeks after the pack date – which means usually three weeks after you buy them. They can be safely eaten two to three weeks beyond the sell by date. And the truth is properly handled eggs rarely spoil, but their quality and texture can degrade markedly. (If the whites have a pink tinge or look irridescent – or, you know, smell rotten – toss them.)
If lemon curd or hollandaise has left you with a surplus of whites and there’s no merengue in your future, freeze those whites. They can just go straight in the freezer. If you use an ice cube tray and freeze them individually, you can then store them in a single container and have them pre-measured for later use.
Yolks are a little trickier, but freeze they can – even though their nature may cause them to thicken if not treated properly. To retard gelling, beat in 1/8 teaspoon of salt or 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar per 4 egg yolks. Then freeze. Be sure to label if they’re sweet or salty so you know whether to use them in savory dishes or desserts.
Break open and beat until blended. You can freeze them all together in a freezer container, but if you freeze them individually in a muffin pan you can then later add them to a larger freezer container and they will be premeasured.
Who knew? Although hard-boiled whites don’t suffer the freezer very well, yolks can be frozen for later use to top salads or for other garnishing. Remove the yolks from the egg and place them in a single layer in a saucepan. Cover with water one inch above the yolks and bring to just boiling; remove the pan and let sit for 12 minutes covered. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, cool and store in a freezer container.
How to use
In a regular freezer, eggs can be stored for up to a year and should be used only in dishes in which they will be thoroughly cooked. To thaw, allow them to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Bonus tip: Previously frozen egg whites will beat fluffier if you allow them to sit at room temperature for half an hour.