It’s that time year – eggs running out my ears. Now that’s a word picture, huh??? Anyway, I thought I’d share a couple of things I do with eggs besides fry them along with some observations about cooking and storing this easy-to-produce homestead protein source.
Our refrigerator is a chest freezer fitted with an external thermostat from the brew store. One of the drawbacks of it is that things sometimes get lost in it, so I don’t refrigerate my eggs. Lost eggs can be yucky. Fortunately they’ll last close to a week on the counter in the heat of summer and at least two in the winter if I move them away from the stove. Our eggs are fertile and I’ve read that fertile eggs won’t store as long as infertile ones. It makes sense. I’ve done some experimenting with old-time long-term egg storage techniques and I’m really not that impressed. We are are blessed that our chickens here in the south lay at least ten months out of the year. I can live with that.
I have found that the best way for me to manage our egg bounty is to boil some every day. It being just the two of us it’s easy to become inundated with eggs at just a six a day, much less the dozen that we usually get. I keep about 3 or 4 days worth segregated on the counter. Every day I boil the oldest and whatever is left over from boiling the day before goes to the dogs or back to the chickens. Kind of like manna from Heaven. When we get back to producing hogs the excess will go to them.
Here are some of the things I do with eggs besides simply boiling them.
Mayonnaise shouldn’t be scary. It’s really super easy to make, even without power appliances. Here’s what I do.
I use one egg yolk per cup of oil. I prefer sunflower oil because it’s grown here on the plains where we live and it’s generally not genetically tampered with. Beat the yolk(s) well with 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar along with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch of sugar 1/4 teaspoonful dried mustard and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper per yolk. I use a small hand whisk and wear an apron because otherwise I end up wearing a good amount of mess. Drizzle in the oil a bit at a time, whisking well after each addition until you’ve got 1/4 to 1/3 of the oil incorporated. Don’t get too wound up over recipes that call from adding oil a drop at a time. I find that if I fuss over my mayo too much I end up over-beating and breaking it. Once it starts to thicken you can add the oil a tablespoon or more at a time. As with all good cooking, taste and adjust the seasoning when you’re done.
The Whey To Do It
When I started reading about “lacto-fermented mayonnaise” I was skeptical. I couldn’t find any explanation, either written or from questioning a live human being, about how a predominantly oil-based product could lacto-ferment. I still don’t think that’s the accurate term for it, but I will admit that it’s good. I did a blind taste-test with my family comparing identical batches of mayo with the exception that one batch had a tablespoon of whey added and was left out on the table for 8 hours. They unanimously preferred the whey-infused version, but I had to laugh when someone said “I like it. It tasted like store-bought.” After the fact I finally ran across some science on the issue.
So, do I think mayonnaise can be “lacto-fermented?” No. Do I think that adding whey to mayonnaise is a good thing? Sure. Either way it’s a tasty way to use up extra eggs.
I can’t think of a better way to use up a pile of boiled eggs and a batch of fresh mayonnaise than to make deviled eggs. We like ours truly devilish – hot, piquant, garlicky. I use more of a formula than a recipe. First half the eggs and mash the yolks. Then add:
Something sour – vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice, etc.
Mustard – prepared or dry
Onion and garlic – finely chopped, juice, powder, etc
Something green – parsley, other herbs, finely chopped pickles or green peppers, chives or wild onion
Something red – Paprika, red pepper, finely chopped dried tomatoes, etc.
Something hot – red pepper, black pepper, Tabasco, horseradish, etc.
Something creamy – mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, etc.
A pinch of sugar
Salt to taste and adjust any of the other ingredients to your liking.
Spoon the filling (or pipe it if you’re fussy and don’t mind doing extra dishes) into the whites and garnish if you like. The batch above had cider vinegar, prepared brown mustard, onion and garlic powder, dried cilantro and chives, paprika, cayenne pepper, Tabasco, mayonnaise, sugar and salt.
Mayo’s warm, rich cousin. We love it for breakfast. Like homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise can be scary. And, like mayonnaise, it’s really simple and even economical if you’re making your own butter like we are right now. I use one stick or 1/2 cup butter per egg yolk. Start out like mayonnaise, beating the yolk(s) well with 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice and a pinch of salt per yolk (more if the butter is unsalted) in a double boiler setup. I use a pottery bowl set in a pan of boiling water. Whisk the cold butter in about a tablespoon at a time. When all the butter is used and the sauce has started to thicken move it off the fire immediately and get it on the table. Hollandaise is best made right before serving. Don’t worry about leftovers. Truth is, David caught me licking the plate the other morning.
Other ways we use eggs? Dressing or stuffing: I save dried bread and cornbread cubes and use whatever jar of meat I might pull out of the pantry. Don’t be pigeon-holed into thinking that chicken is the only meat that works with dressing. I add 2 or 3 raw eggs per batch along with several boiled eggs to make an inexpensive protein-rich main course. Fried or scrambled: Eggs cook best over a gentle heat and that’s all I have to say about that. Breakfast burritos: A little sausage and chopped onion added along with a good helping of cooked-down salsa. Fresh salsa is great but by cooking it down in the empty sausage skillet the flavor is concentrated as excess water is removed giving it an almost roasted flavor. Custard: One egg and maybe an extra yolk per cup of milk; sweetened to taste; a pinch of salt and a little vanilla and nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom added and baked at 300 degrees until set. I usually don’t, but most recipes recommend setting the pan into a larger pan of water in the oven to moderate the temperature and prevent curdling. Mine generally turns out fine without it. Pickled eggs: boiled eggs covered with a boiling brine of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water, salt, a pinch of sugar and spices you like. We use mustard seed, garlic and sometimes jalepenos and we store it in the refrigerator if the weather’s hot.
You may wonder why I’m always adding a pinch of sugar. For what it’s worth it’s been my experience that a bit of sugar helps round out the flavor of many savory foods and a bit of salt livens up sweet ones.
So what do you do with lots of eggs?