Fermented Salt Cured Egg Yolks
If you keep chickens, you probably have periods that you feel overrun with eggs and wish that there were some way to easily preserve them. Now there is. However, fermented salt cured egg yolks are not a substitute for fresh eggs. They are a completely new food you will want to try after reading this post.
Posted by Ashley
It’s true, that just about anything can be fermented. Eggs are no exception, both for the whites and the yolks. Fermenting egg whites is a common industrial process, used to prepare the egg whites before drying for a number of food products on the market today, including powdered instant meringues. The goal of the egg white fermentation commercially is to remove natural sugars from the whites so they do not spoil or discolor when stored dried, and to break them down a bit so that they’re thinner and easier to handle. I’ve experimented with fermenting egg whites and then drying them in a dehydrator with the goal of creating shelf stable instant protien, but my results have been mixed at best. Surely there’s something in the commercial process, either equipment or bacteriologically that I’m missing. So it goes.
Fermented salt cured egg yolks, however, can be produced successfully by the home cook. Salt curing egg yolks relies on preservation by the same lactic acid bacteria that preserve both sauerkraut and fermented cured meats such as panchetta. The resulting food is a salty, cheesy, umami-filled flavor enhancer that tastes a bit like parmesean cheese. The yolks themselves dry out into pliable individual flavor packets, that can be grated atop a variety of foods, most commonly pasta, salads, and rich soups, or just about wherever a bit of cheesy richness would improve the dish.
If you’ve never salt cured anything in your life, egg yolks are a great place to start. They’re relatively quick to make as far as cured products go (two weeks from start to finish) and they’ll keep for months.
Many recipes recommend a nearly even mixture of salt and granulated sugar to use as a cure. I, however, opt for straight kosher salt to increase the versatility of the final product. This is one of those recipes where quantities are rough, because you just need enough salt to completely to cover the egg yolks in a pan, and the quantity of salt will depend on how many egg yolks you choose, and the dimensions of your pan. If you start with a three-pound box of kosher salt, which runs about $2 in the grocery store, you’ll have more than enough.
Fermented Salt Cured Egg Yolks
- Start with a small but deep pan, big enough to hold all your egg yolks on a single level without touching, and deep enough to completely cover them in salt. A glass bread pan works well for four to five yolks.
- Cover the bottom of the pan with about a centimeter of kosher salt. Use the back of a spoon to make a small depression in the salt for each of your yolks.
- Separate each yolk individually, taking care not to break it, and gently place the yolk in the depression. Cover completely with salt.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refirgerator to cure for about a week. After a week the yolks should be firm but pliable, and easily handled.
- Take each yolk out and dust off the salt by hand, then clean off remaining salt with a damp paper towel.
- Wrap each yolk individually in cheesecloth and hang in a cool place to dry for an additional week. Hung from a dowel placed over a deep pan in your fridge works, or in a cool basment with good air flow.
- After a week, your yolks are ready to be unwrapped, grated and used just as you would a dry fancy cheese to enhance the flavor of just about any savory dish.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to three months in a tightly sealed container to prevent further drying.
If you’re feeling particlarly adventerous, try other variations including using half salt and half sugar to cure your yolks. You can also use a bed of miso paste to cure your yolks, creating an Asian version full of tasty probiotics.
- Katz, Sandor Ellix. “Miso Fermented Egg Yolks” Wild fermentation. Retrieved from web on July 26th 2016. http://www.wildfermentation.com/miso-fermented-egg-yolk/
- Shaw, Hank. “Salt Cured Egg Yolks.” Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Chef. Retrieved from web on July 26th 2016. http://honest-food.net/2014/05/09/salt-cured-egg-yolks/
- Stuart, L.S. and Harry Goresline. “Bacteriological Studies on the “natural” fermenation process of preparing egg white for drying.” Agricultural Chemical Research Division, Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. Received for publication April 1, 1942
- Stuart, L.S. and Harry Goresline. “Studies of Bacteria from fermenting egg white and the production of pure culture fermentations.” Agricultural Chemical Refearch Division, Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. Received for publication April 3, 1942
What did I tell you? You want to try this, don’t you? Some other unusual fermenting recipes to try include Lacto-Fermented Tuna and Middle Eastern Lebna. I’d love to hear which one you try and how you like it. Feel free to comment below.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.