People who have even just a few chickens usually find out that it doesn’t take too long before there is an abundance of eggs in the refrigerator. The excess can sometimes be sold or given away, but you can also dry and powder eggs for later use. It isn’t hard to do.
History of powdered eggs
Eggs have been dried and powdered since ancient times, for storage. They became commercially available in the very early 1900s. Companies that made them for sale, mostly for the camping industry, used the same methods used to make powdered milk. That method is called ‘spray-drying’ and it involves spraying the scrambled eggs in an air-tight container filled with hot gasses, which evaporates the water and leaves behind the evaporated eggs. The homemade version is much easier than spray-drying.
Powdered eggs began large-scale use during World War II when both the US and British military used powdered eggs extensively. Eggs are about 70% water, so removing the water resulted in a much lighter product that could be used by fighting men and women in the field of battle. The eggs also lasted far longer and weren’t fragile.
Advantages of powdered eggs
Powdered eggs can be used to make cooked scrambled eggs, omelets, French toast/egg toast, cake, bread, pancakes, pastries…you get the idea. They can be used almost any way that fresh eggs can be used if the yolk doesn’t need to be intact. This gives powdered eggs a few advantages over fresh eggs.
1. They are easy to store. They do need to be in an airtight container, but they can be kept for a very long time as long as moisture doesn’t get to them. If they are sealed so that air can’t get to them, powdered eggs will last up to 10 years.
2. Refrigeration isn’t needed. Since the eggs have been dehydrated, they can be kept at room temperature without rotting. Fresh eggs eventually rot primarily because of moisture.
3. Transporting them is easier. There are no worries in regard to breaking the eggs and since they don’t need to be refrigerated, the only concern is to keep moisture away from them. This makes them ideal for camping, backpacking, or to have in an emergency evacuation kit. In fact, without the moisture, the eggs also weigh less and require less space.
4. Powdered eggs are healthier than fresh eggs. That might seem like a strange claim, but it has been found that during the drying process, the cholesterol in the eggs is oxidized. This means that powdered eggs are much lower in cholesterol than fresh eggs.
All of this is so true that the military has been using powdered eggs for three-quarters of a century. The fact that they last so long in airtight containers means that the military can store the eggs in warehouses for use when they need them.
Powdered eggs are also used for disaster relief since they keep well and are easy to transport and they’ve also been given away by the US Department of Agriculture as part of the food relief commodity program (along with cheese and powdered milk).
Making basic powdered eggs
1. Using a mixer, blender or food processor, scramble the eggs well. This can be done by hand, too, though it takes a bit more effort.
2. Pour the eggs out onto a very lightly oiled or greased cookie sheet. If you have a food dehydrator with a fruit roll sheet, this can also be used, but the sheet should still be lightly oiled to prevent the eggs from sticking.
3. Put them in a very slow oven (or food dehydrator) at about 140 to 160 F. If your oven doesn’t go that low, turn it as low as it will go and prop the oven door open a little.
4. Dry for 12 to 18 hours, until the eggs are totally dry and brittle. The time will vary a little, depending on the oven or dehydrator and the amount of moisture in the air. It takes much less time using a food dehydrator to dry the eggs.
5. Put the dried eggs into a blender or food processor and run it until the consistency is that of powder.
6. Transfer the powdered eggs to an air-tight container for storage.
Note: The drying time can be lessened substantially by cooking the scrambled eggs before drying them. Drying cooked scrambled eggs can take as little as four hours. However, the flavor isn’t quite as good.
Using the powdered eggs
To use the powdered eggs, put a tablespoon of powdered eggs in a bowl, add two tablespoons of water, stir the mixture, and let stand for a few minutes. This is the equivalent of one egg, so adjust the amounts accordingly.
In powdered form, the eggs can also be used to make homemade dry cake or pancake mix. When the mix is used, just add an additional 2 tablespoons of water per tablespoon of powdered eggs.
If you find yourself with an excess of eggs, this is a great way to prep the eggs for long-term storage. This is even useful for people who don’t have chickens. For example, if there is a tremendous sale on eggs at the store and the only thing preventing you from taking full advantage of the sale is that you don’t have room in the refrigerator, you can go ahead and get the eggs for drying.
For that matter, if you like to go camping, it is great to have some of the powdered eggs in the camping supplies. It is also a good idea to have some in your emergency evacuation kit. The powdered eggs don’t even take up much room in a kit.
By all means, give eggs away to those people who are needy and who can use them. That is the right thing to do. However, there should be no reason for you to ever throw away eggs because they are too old. Just dehydrate them before they get to that point.