The spoiling of eggs is due to the entrance of air carrying germs through the shells. Normally the shell has a surface coating of mucilaginous matter, which prevents for a time the entrance of these harmful organisms into the egg. But if this coating is removed or softened by washing or otherwise the keeping quality of the egg is much reduced. These facts explain why many methods of preservation have not been entirely successful, and suggest that the methods employed should be based upon the idea of protecting and rendering more effective the natural coating of the shell, so that air bearing the germs that cause decomposition may be completely excluded.

Eggs are often packed in lime, salt, or other products, or are put in cold storage for winter use, but such eggs are very far from being perfect when they come upon the market. German authorities declare that water glass more closely conforms to the requirements of a good preservative than any of the substances commonly employed. A 10 per cent solution of water glass is said to preserve eggs so effectually that at the end of three and one-half months eggs still appeared to be perfectly fresh. In most packed eggs the yolk settles to one side, and the egg is then inferior in quality. In eggs preserved in water glass the yolk retained its normal position in the egg, and in taste they were not to be distinguished from fresh, unpacked store eggs.

Of twenty methods tested in Germany, the three which proved most effective were coating the eggs with vaseline, preserving them in limewater, and preserving them in water glass. The conclusion was reached that the last is preferable, because varnishing the eggs with vaseline takes considerable time, and treating them with limewater is likely to give the eggs a limy flavor.

Other methods follow:

I

Eggs can be preserved for winter use by coating them, when perfectly fresh, with paraffine. As the spores of fungi get into eggs almost as soon as they are laid, it is necessary to rub every egg with chloroform or wrap it a few minutes in a chloroform soaked rag before dipping it into the melted paraffine. If only a trace of the chloroform enters the shell the development of such germs as may have gained access to freshly laid eggs is prevented. The paraffine coating excludes all future contamination from germ-laden air, and with no fungi growing within, they retain their freshness and natural taste.

II

Preserving with Lime.—Dissolve in each gallon of water 12 ounces of quicklime, 6 ounces of common salt, 1 drachm of soda, 0.5 drachm saltpeter, 0.5 drachm tartar, and 1.5 drachms of borax. The fluid is brought into a barrel and sufficient quicklime to cover the bottom is then poured in. Upon this is placed a layer of eggs, quicklime is again thrown in and so on until the barrel is filled so that the liquor stands about 10 inches deep over the last layer of eggs. The barrel is then covered with a cloth, upon which is scattered some lime.

III

Melt 4 ounces of clear beeswax in a porcelain dish over a gentle fire, and stir in 8 ounces of olive oil. Let the solution of wax in oil cool somewhat, then dip the fresh eggs one by one into it so as to coat every part of the shell. A momentary dip is sufficient, all excess of the mixture being wiped off with a cotton cloth. The oil is absorbed in the shell, the wax hermetically closing all the pores.

IV

The Reinhard method is said to cause such chemical changes in the surface of the eggshell that it is closed up perfectly air-tight and an admittance of air is entirely excluded, 'even in case of long-continued storing. The eggs are for a short time exposed to the direct action of sulphuric acid, whereby the surface of the eggshell, which consists chiefly of lime carbonate, is transformed into lime sulphate. The dense texture of the surface thus produced forms a complete protection against the access of the outside air, which admits of storing the egg for a very long time, without the contents of the egg suffering any disadvantageous changes regarding taste and odor. The egg does not require any special treatment to prevent cracking on boiling, etc.

Some object to this on the ground that sulphuric acid is a dangerous poison that might, on occasion, penetrate the shell.

V

Take about half a dozen eggs and place them in a netting (not so many as would chill the water below the boiling point, even for an instant), into a boiling solution of boric acid, withdraw immediately, and pack. Or put up, in oil, carrying 2 per cent or 3 per cent of salicylic acid. Eggs treated in this way are said to taste, after six months, absolutely as fresh as they were when first put up. The eggs should be as fresh as possible, and should be thoroughly clean before dipping. The philosophy of the process is that the dipping in boiling boric acid solution not only kills all bacteria existing on, or in, the shell and membrane, but reinforces these latter by a very thin layer of coagulated albumen; while the packing in salicylated oil prevents the admission of fresh germs from the atmosphere. Salicylic acid is objected to on the same grounds as sulphuric acid.

VI

Dissolve sodium silicate in boiling water, to about the consistency of a syrup (or about 1 part of the silicate to 3 parts water). The eggs should be as fresh as possible, and must be thoroughly clean. They should be immersed in the solution in such manner that every part of each egg is covered with the liquid, then removed and let dry. If the solution is kept at or near the boiling temperature, the preservative effect is said to be much more certain and to last longer.