This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
The age of eggs may be approximately judged by taking advantage of the fact that as they grow old their density decreases through evaporation of moisture. According to Siebel, a new-laid egg placed in a vessel of brine made in the proportion of 2 ounces of salt to 1 pint of water, will at once sink to the bottom. An egg 1 day old will sink below the surface, but not to the bottom, while one 3 days old will swim just immersed in the liquid. If more than 3 days old the egg will float on the surface, the amount of shell exposed increasing with age; and if 2 weeks old, only a little of the shell will dip in the liquid.
The New York State Experiment Station studied the changes in the specific gravity of the eggs on keeping and found that on an average fresh eggs had a specific gravity of 1.090; after they were 10 days old, of 1.072; after 20 days, of 1.053; and after 30 days, of 1.035. The test was not continued further. The changes in specific gravity correspond to the changes in water content. When eggs arc kept they continually lose water by evaporation through the pores in the shell. After 10 days the average loss was found to be 1.00 per cent of the total water present in the egg when perfectly fresh; after 20 days, 3.16 per cent; and after 30 days, 5 per cent. The average temperature of the room where the eggs were kept was 63.8° F. The evaporation was found to increase somewhat with increased temperature. None of the eggs used in the 30-day test spoiled.
Fresh eggs are preserved in a number of ways which may, for convenience, be grouped under two general classes: (1) Use of low temperature, i. e., cold storage; and (2) excluding the air by coating, covering, or immersing the eggs, some material or solution being used which may or may not be a germicide. The two methods are often combined. The first method owes its value to the fact that microorganisms, like larger forms of plant life, will not grow below a certain temperature, the necessary degree of cold varying with the species. So far as experiment shows, it is impossible to kill these minute plants, popularly called "bacteria" or "germs," by any degree of cold; and so, very low temperature is unnecessary for preserving eggs, even if it were not undesirable for other reasons, such as injury by freezing and increased cost. According to a report of the Canadian commission of agriculture and dairying:
Eggs are sometimes removed from the shells and stored in bulk, usually on a commercial scale, in cans containing about 50 pounds each. The temperature recommended is about 30° F., or a little below freezing, and it is said they will keep any desired length of time. They must be used soon after they have been removed from storage and have been thawed.
Water glass or soluble glass is the popular name for potassium silicate, or sodium silicate, the commercial article often being a mixture of the two. The commercial water glass is used for preserving eggs, as it is much cheaper than the chemically pure article which is required for many scientific purposes. Water glass is commonly sold in two forms, a syrup-thick liquid of about the consistency of molasses, and a powder. The thick syrup, the form perhaps most usually seen, is sometimes sold wholesale as low as 1.75 cents per pound in carboy lots. The retail price varies, though 10 cents per pound, according to the North Dakota Experiment Station, seems to be the price commonly asked. According to the results obtained at this station a solution of the desired strength for preserving eggs may be made by dissolving 1 part of the syrup-thick water glass in 10 parts, by measure, of water. If the water-glass powder is used, less is required for a given quantity of water. Much of the water glass offered for sale is very alkaline. Such material should not be used, as the eggs preserved in it will not keep well. Only pure water should be used in making the solution, and it is best to boil it and cool it before mixing with the water glass.
The solution should be carefully poured over the eggs packed in a suitable vessel, which must be clean and sweet, and if wooden kegs or barrels are used they should be thoroughly scalded before packing the eggs in them. The packed eggs should be stored in a cool place. If they are placed where it is too warm, silicate deposits on the shell and the eggs do not keep well. The North Dakota Experiment Station found it best not to wash the eggs before packing, as this removes the natural mucilaginous coating on the outside of the shell. The station states that 1 gallon of the solution is sufficient for 50 dozen eggs if they are properly packed.
It is, perhaps, too much to expect that eggs packed in any way will be just as satisfactory for table use as the fresh article. The opinion seems to be, however, that those preserved with water glass are superior to most of those preserved otherwise. The shells of eggs preserved in water glass are apt to crack in boiling. It is stated that this may be prevented by puncturing the blunt end of the egg with a pin before putting it into the water.