No, these are not pickled eggs.
These are homegrown, unwashed eggs stored in lime water.
The lime water fills in all the pores of the egg and encases them in a shell of “glass”.
“Water-glassed” eggs can last stored at room temperature like this (many say) for up to a year. This method of preserving raw eggs has been used since the 1800s and was common even into the 1940s and 50s. When refrigerators became a standard kitchen appliance, water glassing almost became a lost art.
- You must use clean, but unwashed eggs.
- You cannot use commercial eggs for this because they have all had the protective coating (bloom) washed off the shell and will quickly go bad.
- 24 hours old, or less, is best – as fresh as possible, and have not been refrigerated.
I recently scrambled up 18 eggs that had been stored in lime water for 7 months on an unrefrigerated cupboard shelf. They tasted perfectly fresh (although the yoke seemed a bit thinner than fresh eggs).
What about poopy eggs? A lot of folks have wondered how to clean poopy eggs for this without washing them:
I soaked mildly soiled eggs in a separate lime water solution before putting them in the main jar.
CAVEAT: if I scrubbed at the shell too much and disturbed the bloom, the shell could not seal completely and some went bad, so I recommend washing, refrigerating and using the eggs that are poopy. (Duck eggs are especially prone to be mucky)
Folks also wonder about using unwashed but refrigerated eggs…I didn’t do that so I’m not sure if they keep well or not…
Anyhow, if you have an abundance of fresh, unwashed eggs, you might want to try putting some away for later.
Directions & Tips:
- The ratio is one ounce (by weight) of lime (aka calcium hydroxide) to one quart of water. See calculator for ounces into teaspoons here.
- When using pickling lime, wear a mask to prevent breathing in the fine particles.
- The jars do not need to be sealed in any way, other than to keep the water clean.
- If you can’t drink your culinary tap water, use filtered water.
- When you do use the eggs, be sure to rinse them thoroughly before you crack them or they will taste like lime.
Notes: Also known as Calcium hydroxide or hydrated lime, it is a completely natural, organic ingredient and harmless, although the powder is very fine and may irritate your lungs if you breathe it in. The lime water can dried out your skin, so use tongs to retrieve eggs. I had to apply lotion to get them back to normal. Also, there is about a 10% loss rate due to egg shells that crack and let lime water in.
FYI: a gallon size container will store about 40 eggs. It can be plastic or glass and should be covered with some sort of lid to keep out dust and bugs.
Lime water: a common egg preservation in the 19th century:
“To half a bushel of water, add little over a pint of unslaked lime, and when the whole is dissolved, put in the eggs; be very particular that you do not put in one that is cracked, as it will spoil the whole; there should be plenty of liquid to cover them well. If the eggs are fresh and whole, and mixture of the proper strength, it is said they will keep good for years.” —Kentucky Housewife, Lettice Bryan, Cincinnati 
“To keep [summer] eggs till Christmas: let the eggs be new laid, and perfect; quite covered with the lime water, and kept in a stone pot in a cool place. Thus preserved, eggs will keep good six months. If occasionally turned over, the better.” —Improved Housewife, A Married Lady [Mrs. A. L. Webster], Hartford 
“Another way (and a very good one) is to put a gallon of boiling water to a pound of lime. When it is cold, pour it off into a large stone jar, put in the eggs, and cover the jar closely. See that the eggs are always well covered with the lime-water, and lest they should break, avoid moving the jar. If you have hens of your own keep a jar of lime-water always ready, and put in the eggs as they are brought in from the nests. It will be well to renew the lime-water occasionally.” —Directions for Cookery in Its Various Branches, Miss [Eliza] Leslie, Philadelphia 
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