Imagine this scene, if you will. . .
You are puttering about the kitchen, minding your own business, when you realize you need an item from the refrigerator. Walking over to the fridge, you open the door, and scream! There are cartons full of eggs everywhere . . . eggs on the top shelf, eggs packed on the middle shelf, eggs in the crisper drawers. The only thing left in your fridge besides cartons of eggs is a tub of margarine and a half gallon of milk, and the milk carton looks a little squished for room.
Is this a scene from the latest horror movie, The Eggs That Ate Cleveland? No, this is what our refrigerator looked like last year, when we had 23 laying pullets in the chicken yard. We wanted fresh eggs, so we built a chicken house, surrounded by a fence to keep marauding animals out, and ordered some chicks.
What we failed to realize was just how many pullets we needed to keep a family in eggs. The chickens began laying eggs slowly, so we were able to keep up with the egg trickle at first. But soon, we were pulling 18 eggs a day out of the nests, and this was in winter; hens are supposed to lay even more eggs in summer. Even if we ate eggs for three meals a day, there was no way we could keep up with the steady flow coming from the hen house. What do you do with the overflow?
You freeze the eggs. Frozen eggs keep for one year in the freezer. Although you cannot fry frozen eggs, you can use them for scrambled eggs, omelets, quiche, French toast and in baking. There are only two catches to frozen eggs: 1) they must be used within 24 hours from the time you take them out of the freezer, and 2) they look awful when you pour them out of the freezer bag and into a bowl.
But the frozen eggs do taste as fresh as the day you froze them.
If you think the idea of frozen eggs applies only to people who own too many chickens, think again. How many times have you noticed that the price of eggs goes up in the winter and down in the summer at the grocery store?
Take advantage of every egg sale or reduced period of egg prices and buy as many as you can. The egg sales are especially good around Easter. Freeze the excess to enjoy during the cold winter months when the cost of eggs seems to go through the roof.
Here is how to freeze eggs
Decide in advance how many eggs you want to put in each freezer bag. If you do a lot of baking that calls for two eggs, freeze two eggs per bag. We freeze six eggs per bag. We figure six eggs make enough scrambled eggs, omelets and French toast for two people . . . or one hungry teenager. Six eggs is also enough to make one meal of quiche.
When it comes to baking, we use the old substitution trick of one heaping tablespoon of soy flour plus one tablespoon of water per egg called for in a baking recipe. Soy flour as a substitute for eggs when baking cakes, cookies, pancakes or waffles really works well. It also prevents having hundreds of small packages of eggs in the freezer.
In a bowl, crack the number of eggs you want to freeze in one package. With a fork, gently stir together the yolk into the egg white.
DO NOT WHIP like you would for scrambled eggs. The idea is to incorporate the yolk into the white without mixing in a lot of air bubbles.
Indicate on the quart freezer bag the contents, how many eggs you are putting in the package, and the exact date. The date allows you to keep track of your egg supply, so you use the 7-11-11 eggs before the 9-23-11 eggs.
Using a canning funnel (a wide mouthed funnel located in the canning section of a store) placed in the mouth of the freezer bag, pour your mixed eggs into the bag.
Gently remove as much air as possible from the bag before closing. Place flat in the freezer, where it will freeze within 24 hours.
Thaw your frozen eggs in a refrigerator before using. Use within 24 hours from the time they were removed from the freezer.
A SIMPLE QUICHE RECIPE
Here is our recipe for quiche, an easy way to use leftover bits of meat and vegetables to make a hearty meal. What is quiche? It’s eggs backed in a pie crust with amendments, such as meat and vegetables. Here’s the recipe:
1 cup leftover meat, such as turkey, chicken, ham or cooked bacon (optional)
1 cup leftover vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, asparagus or spinach
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
1 pie crust
Preheat oven to 425° F.
Place the pie crust in a nine-inch pie plate. Spread the meat and vegetables around the bottom of the crust. Sometimes we use turkey. We often add broccoli. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the meat and vegetables.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, onion powder, the two peppers and the salt. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the cheese in the pie plate. Press any cheese, meat or vegetables that float to the top into the egg mixture so they are coated with egg.
Bake the quiche for 10 minutes at 425° F, then reduce the oven heat to 350° F and cook for an additional 50 minutes. This recipe makes 8 servings.
If you use fresh vegetables, such as onion, green pepper or broccoli, sautÃ© in a bit of oil over medium heat to soften the vegetables before adding them to the bottom of the crust.
By the time we got rid of our 23 hens last spring, we had over 130 packages of eggs in our freezer. We have since replaced our Barred Rock pullets with six Black Australorp pullets. These ladies are big beautiful birds, but they haven’t laid a single egg, yet. We don’t mind, because we still have plenty of frozen eggs left to keep us in egg recipes well into next year.