A quick guide to preserving eggs without refrigeration.
When an egg is laid, it has a natural coating over the porous shell, preventing oxygen contamination and dehydration. Store-bought eggs must be kept refrigerated due to the cleaning and scrubbing they undergo during production.
We didn’t always have refrigeration, and anyone with chickens of their own will tell you how quickly eggs can build up, even with just a couple of hens. So how did they do it before? There are several great methods, but for the purpose of simplicity and low costs, I use food-grade mineral oil.
I first gently scrub the eggs under cold running water with a plastic scrubby. Warm water will melt away the natural oils already in the pores, and we’re just trying to scrub off any poop or debris stuck to the shell.
I then lay out the eggs on paper towels until they dry completely. Roll the eggs over to let the other side dry as well.
Next, I grab the mineral oil ($0.98 for a 16 fl oz / 473ml bottle at my local Wal-Mart) and slap on a pair of gloves.
I don’t dip the eggs in the oil, I just touch one side of it to the top of the oil and then smear it all around the egg in my hand. Oil will build up on the gloves depending on how many you do, so with some eggs, I skip touching them to the oil and just smear them in the gloves (I usually do anywhere from 30 - 50 eggs per day depending on predators and environmental conditions, and every 10 eggs or so the gloves get slippery).
After coating, place the eggs inside a styrofoam carton with the pointy side down. The styrofoam will not soak up the mineral oil before it can dry to the eggs, and placing them pointy side down will prevent suction/breaking eggs with your thumb when you try to take them out.
Eggs will last on the shelf for over 6 months like this, and over a year if refrigerated. Sunny side up, or over hard. It’s delicious.
Here is a comparison of my eggs to the puny pale yellow store-bought egg in the middle, hanging its head in shame. The nutritional difference is staggering.
ETA: Each bottle of mineral oil preserves 400+ eggs.