We love eggs around here, as you can imagine. Heck, we got chickens just so we could have a plethora of the little protein bombs (y’know, as well as building a sustainable homestead and using them in my baked good sales, and chicken shenanigans, but I digress).
Sometimes, however, you find yourself with quite a number of extra eggs for different reasons, or just a bunch of yolks or whites leftover from a recipe. So, what do you do with dozens of the little buggers?
Firstly, a few notes about egg freshness and storage:
If you’ve got a lot of whole eggs, they probably last longer than you think, especially in their shells. Whole eggs will last weeks (about 3-5, possibly more) past their “expiration” date. They will decline in quality (mostly, they’ll dry up, which is why older eggs are better for hard boiling than fresh – more on that below), but they’ll still be good.
If you’re buying eggs from the store and they’re refrigerated, store them at home in the fridge. If you’re in doubt, store them in the fridge. However, if you’re getting farm-fresh eggs from a friend who doesn’t wash their eggs, you can store them at room temperature. Why?
Eggshells naturally have a protective coating that prevents nasties (harmful bacteria and the like) from getting into the egg once they’re laid, so you can keep them at room temperature for a few weeks without their going bad. This is especially handy for baked goods, which often benefit from warm eggs, since the other ingredients tend to be at room temperature and can congeal or harden (especially butter) if cold eggs are added. I prefer my eggs at room temp for this reason, and for saving room in our fridge.
Most commercial eggs here in the U.S., however, are washed, which means that this membrane is removed. Therefore, store-bought eggs need to be refrigerated, lest ye end up with rotten eggs on your countertop. So again, when in doubt, store them in the fridge. They’ll also last longer in the cold, if that’s what you need.
You can test eggs for freshness in their shells with the float test: fill a bowl with water, one that is deep enough to submerge an egg completely with a few inches of headspace above the egg. If your egg sinks completely, it’s quite fresh. If it mostly sinks but floats a bit to the top (even halfway), it should still be fine. If it floats like an inflatable in a pool, compost it.
And obviously, if your eggs smell rotten, don’t eat them. That’s just silly.
You can also freeze raw whole eggs, egg yolks, and whites. (If you freeze whole eggs, make sure you remove them from the shells first). Just place them in an appropriately-sized (as in, as little air as possible) and labeled freezer-safe container. Keep in mind that defrosted eggs may thicken or gel unless you add a pinch of salt or a teaspoon of sugar to the mixture before freezing, depending on how many you freeze. Frozen eggs last about a year.
All this being said, I prefer to cook or bake with eggs before resorting to long-term storage, especially one that requires electricity. So, without further ado, a non-exhaustive list of what you can bake and cook with your extra eggs and egg bits:
- Scrambles and Hashes. These, like frittatas, are great ways to use up bits and bobs from your fridge and pantry, come together quickly for any meal, and keep you full for a good while. Just chop up and saute your veggies of choice, add eggs and seasoning (salt, pepper, cheese, whatever you want), and serve.
- Frittatas and Spanish Omelets. These can use a good 8-12 eggs at a time, if you’re going big.
- Savory Strata and Bread Pudding
- Hard-Boiled Eggs. This is often a default for excess eggs, and by all means, make them if you love them (I know I do)! Remember, too, that hard-boiled eggs can also be made into all kinds of other tasty treats, like deviled eggs and egg salad. Older eggs are best for hard-boiling. Why? The older an egg gets, the bigger the air pocket in the shell, and the easier it is to peel once you want to eat it.
- Baking (Quickbreads, Cookies, Cakes, Pastries, etc.). This is why you’re here, right?
- Challah and Other Egg Breads
- Shakshuka. If you love tomatoes and tomato sauce, and haven’t experienced the joy that is scooping up eggs and spiced tomato sauce with fresh, hearty bread, change that right now. We love this recipe here from our Zahav cookbook, which I highly recommend for other tasty Israeli recipes, too.
- Homemade Pasta. You don’t need a pasta press, either (although they’re pretty cool)! We use a recipe from our pasta press handbook, but this recipe works, too, especially without a machine.
- Pasta Carbonara. The authentic stuff takes practice (no cream or milk), but even accidentally scrambling your yolks still turns out a tasty final product. This recipe is a pretty good one.
- Pickled Eggs. I haven’t done it myself, but a homesteading friend of ours makes them on the regular, and they’re pretty darned tasty.
- Eggnog. Alton Brown recipe. ‘Nuff said. (Actually, I lied – he’s got a boozier one if you’re into that, too. I prefer mine spiked with brandy, myself.)
- Custards, Puddings, and Ice Cream.
- Lemon and Lime Curds. I’m a particular fan of this recipe (just the curd), and use it on everything from toast to cookies to eating it straight out of the jar.
- Sables. They don’t use a lot of yolks, but they’ll at least use some extra you might have on hand.
- Pastry Cream. Y’know, for filling eclairs and whatnot, or eating it out of the bowl like an animal. I won’t tell.
- Mayonnaise. Our same homesteading friend loves to make and share mayo with us. I have yet a need to use a lot of eggs quickly in this manner (his family also has three times the number of chickens we do, so), but will likely experiment with homemade mayo in the future, since the stuff we get from him is so good!
- Meringue and Meringue Cookies. Top your custard pies, or just bake meringues to eat out of hand. You can also make Pavlova, which is essentially a bed of meringue “cake” topped with fresh fruit. Delightful.
- Macaroons and Macarons. Mmm, coconut and almond cookies.
- Angel Food Cake. A fabulous way to use literally a dozen egg whites. I leave this endeavor to my mother-in-law, who makes an excellent and fluffy angel food cake that made me a convert.
- Egg White Omelets. Husband gets very excited when he sees a container of egg whites in the fridge from my ice cream and custard endeavors, and uses them for his various breakfast sandwiches, bowls, and scrambles.
- Binders in Recipes. I’ve often found that if an egg’s main purpose in a baked good is to bind ingredients (and not for flavor), that egg whites work just about as well as a whole egg. You’ll need at least two eggs’ worth of whites as an equivalent for one whole binding egg.
- Egg Wash and Pastry Sealer for Breads and Pastries. Same deal here – if an egg is being used as a coating or for browning, egg whites can be used as a “wash” in a pinch.
- Chunky Granola. Want your granola to be in larger, crunchier chunks, rather than small oaty pieces? In the last mix before spreading the mixture on a baking sheet, evenly coat your granola in 1-2 egg whites (whisk them until a bit frothy before you do this – otherwise, you might end up with chunks of egg), and bake as directed.
- Coating for Spiced Nuts. Want nuts with a little more flavor? Coat 3 cups of nuts with 1 whisked egg white (again, see the chunky granola directions above), mix with your desired spice mix, and bake on a cookie sheet at a low temperature (250 degrees F) for 30-45 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Mmmm.
- Some marshmallow recipes call for egg whites. I haven’t gone this route, but some people swear by them. Let me know how they turn out if you do make them!
I know I’ve missed some things, but there you have it – a pretty decent list of stuff to do with your extra eggs. Got anything else that you make with eggs? Have handy, tasty recipes? Leave them in the comments, and happy egg-ventures to you!