Friday, 8 May 2009

Eggs................



It's that time of year when we are awash with egs, but it's never a real problem! I'm lucky enough to have room to keep chickens in a separate decent sized area at the top of our garden. At the moment, we have 2 Light Sussex bantams, 3 Cotswold Cream Legbars, 4 Black Rocks, 1 Warren hybrid, 2 Coronation Sussex, 1 Maran and 1 Maran cockerel. They live in two houses, sometimes moving about for sleeping arrangements as suits them. William Barnes the cockerel does a good job, he really looks after his harem, piinting out tasty morsels with a distinct clucking, and jumping on andoff the roofs to perform hsi crowing antics; I can hear him up the other end of the village when he starts LOL. They all get on very well, apart from the occasional scrap at the food tray or similar. Up until a few days ago, I was getting 7 or 8 eggs a day - not every lady lays every day - plus duck eggs, so that's a good number. Yield has gone down a wee bit due to the weather changing last week to quite warm, but it will go back up soon. Also, one of the bantams is broody, and is sitting very tight in one of the nesting boxes, thereby restricting available room for laying; theylike a dark, private spot with minimal interference, so tehy can get on with their egg laying in peace, although some of them proclaim to the whole neighbourhood when they have laid that all important egg!! I hope to try and ove the bantam and her nest succcessfully this weekend, and maybe be fortunate enough to have her hatch some chicks, we'll see how it goes. The disturbance, although minimal, can put them off big time if they don't feel like getting back on the nest.
In the meantime, there are all these beautiful eggs to deal with........
I've become quite good at finding different ways of preserving them, so they can tide us over when the payling slows down. For the freezer : cakes and sponges, quiches and flans, Scotch eggs, ice cream, mixed lightly and frozen in batches for cooking later on. Preserved: pickled eggs.
Other ideas I use are boiling a dozen or so older eggs (peeling older boiled eggs is much easier than fresh ones) and making a bowl of egg mayonnaise/salad to go int eh fridge for sandwiches; making mayonnaise; egg and milk whisked up in a glass with a good dollop of honey makes a lovely breakfast.
The chickens go off lay more or less over winter, but a few eggs appear each week to keep us going; ducks don;t do this, and lay right through the winter, so I am fortunate enough to more or less have fresh eggs all the time. I think I've only bought eggs on 4 occasions in the last 11+ years.
Occasionally I will sell them,either direct or at a table by the front gate, but I prefer to barter them. Last barter was eggs for a fresh rabbit:)
One thing I did find on the net eysterday was instructions for drying eggs, for storing in powder form, which could be sueful, so I'mlooking forward to giving that a go soon.
In the meantime, here's how to pickle eggs: boil some week old eggs, plunge into cold water and cool. Peel carefully, and pack into jars. Cover with vinegar, adding spices if you like and seal. Leave three weeks before eating, but don;t leave them longer than a couple of months. At the moment I can get malt vinegar very cheaply locally, so am using that. strictlys peaking, the white vinegar gives a beter colour, but the taste is more or less the same. When the eggs are done, don;t throw away the vinegar. Strain it clean andkeep it for future chutney/pickle making.

So - you've used up all the eggs - that's a lot of eggshells!! What to do with them? They have myriad uses. I bake them in the oven, crush them finely and mix in with scraps for the chickens; roughly crushed, they go around delicate plants (eg lettuce seedlings) to deter slugs and snails; use them for fining wine; use for cleaning out the bottoms of vases, decanters, etc; put them on the compost heap; blow the eggs our first, then decorate the shells.
Finally, one frugal tip I read of, which should be standard practice really, is to wipe aroudn the inside of the shell when you break the egg, with your finger, to make sure that every last bit of the egg is removed and used.

2 comments:

Melanie said...

Great tips.xxx

Sandy said...

Hey Sarah, lots of eggs there :-) I had to buy some for the first time in ages last week, I have enough moulted feathers to stuff a pillow though!