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The Surprising but Strange Secret to Keeping Eggs as Fresh as Possible

Real Simple logo Real Simple 9/6/2019 Betty Gold
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Before you scramble, hear us out.

Few foods are better than eggs. They're a nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein, iron, choline, and tons of other vitamins and minerals. But the best part about eggs? Their versatility. You can prepare them in endless ways, plus they’re easy to make and cost almost nothing.

All of that being said, eggs are only as good as their shelf life. Those of us who have ever had the misfortune of seeing a long-past expiration date on the carton in the back of the fridge (and smelled the result) know how crucial it is to keep your carton kicking.

“I grew up on a farm and joined a multi-generational line of egg farmers—there’s probably little that needs to be said about the number of eggs we had in and around our kitchen, and that at times we had to employ some pretty clever storage tricks to minimize waste,” says Jesse Laflamme, the CEO (and third-generation egg farmer) of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. His top tip for keeping eggs fresh is quite surprising: freeze them. “I think the biggest trick that people might not know is that you can freeze both egg whites and egg yolks—it takes a little finessing.”

Surprised as we were? Don’t worry, we grilled Laflamme on the how-to. Below are some of the tips that he’s found worked for his family over the years.

The yolks

First, you should never use liquid leftover egg yolks or whites after two to four days of outside-the-shell egg storage. For optimal freshness, always store them in airtight containers, covering the top of your yolk with water which prevents the yolk from drying out. Remember to remove the water before cooking.

RELATED: Our Top-Tested Tricks for Separating, Boiling, and Poaching Eggs

According to Laflamme, it’s possible to freeze your egg yolks for up to four months with the right technique. Naturally, the texture of egg yolks is made more intense by the freezing process, and once the texture has been compromised, they are much more difficult to cook with. You can impede the transition by beating in either ⅛ teaspoon salt or 1½ teaspoon sugar for every four egg yolks (¼ cup), according to the American Egg Board. “Here, it’s important to note which ingredient you introduced so you can use them for appropriate dishes—accidentally using salted egg yolks for your home-made birthday cake just isn’t the same!” he says. And always write the freeze date on your storage container.

When cooking with frozen egg yolks, thaw them before cooking by simply running them under cold water. You can substitute one tablespoon thawed yolk for one fresh yolk.

“Temperature can impact your ability to digest eggs and benefit from the wealth of nutrients they offer (B and C vitamins, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants), so it’s important to purchase high-quality eggs that can withstand the stress of extreme temperatures. Our hens have more time to roam and forage outdoors on grass than cage-free hens, which often have no outdoor access.”

RELATED: 9 Eye-Opening Inaccuracies You Probably Believe About Eggs

The whites

Egg whites actually store quite a bit better than egg yolks when frozen, and last considerably longer—up to 12 months. That said, we recommend staying within a two month window.

For easy use, try storing one dozen egg whites in an ice-cube tray, which allows for simple-to-remember portions and easy access. These can be brought to room temperature and then used for an array of baked desserts.

Whole eggs

“You can also freeze whole eggs in a variety of ways, but the one misstep many make is to freeze them inside the shell,” explains Laflamme. Under extremely low temperatures, the egg shell will crack. Once the shell is removed, you can decide to freeze as a whole, topped with a little water, or separate the yolk and whites, freezing them separately.

For the adventurous, you can also pickle your eggs for long-term storage. Find out how here.

Related Video: This Is the Easiest Way to Tell if Your Eggs Are Old

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