1920 Egg Preservation Method Advertisement

Advertisement showing eggs in stoneware crocks
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1920)

Chickens generally lay more eggs at some times of the year than others. Historically there was a plethora of eggs during the Spring, and they could be purchased very inexpensively – and eggs were much scarcer and more costly during the winter months.

As a result, people often preserved eggs using the water glass method. They mixed water and water glass (hydrated lime) together in large stoneware crocks or jars. Eggs were then placed in the liquid to preserve them.

According to a 1920 advertisement by the Stoneware Manufacturers Association (who would have guessed that there was a Stoneware Manufacturers Association) which represented the manufacturers of the crocks:

Eggs properly preserved in stoneware jars will keep fresh as the day they were laid for 8 to 12 months.Β 

When I googled water glass eggs, I discovered that some people still use this method to preserve eggs. For example, Homesteading Family and Timber Creek Farmer each have posts about how to use the water glass method.

62 thoughts on “1920 Egg Preservation Method Advertisement

    1. It’s one of those things that I might experiment with if I owned chickens and had lots of eggs; but, since I don’t, I think that I’ll just buy them at the store and store them in the refrigerator.

  1. Interesting! I just freeze my extra eggs if I have too many. I scramble them ,marking how many eggs are in a freezer bag. It works great for baking or just plain scrambled eggs. Also I keep hens that have hatched at different times of the year, ducks also help out. So I have eggs pretty much all year. Spring time definitely produces the most eggs though.

  2. I haven’t heard of this before, so it’s all new to me. I know that my two egg friends have way fewer eggs in the winter, and stop laying altogether during little extreme cold snaps, so eggs are more precious that time of year. This time of year, they are both asking me if I need more eggs because they have so many! I can’t say that I’m tempted to do this, but I really am curious how they would turn out. Perhaps I’ll pass this on to one of my egg people!

    1. I’m also curious about what eggs are like that are preserved this way. If someone offered me a few eggs preserved in this manner, I’d definitely give them a try.

  3. There are many ways of preserving eggs here…I haven’t heard of this method though although limewater is used for other purposes…Interesting post Sheryl I will check your links out πŸ™‚

      1. As am I, Sheryl… it is used to firm fruit here and also used with betel nuts and rubbed on the gums(an)ancient tradition but what else I have yet to discover πŸ™‚

        1. Fascinating – I knew that betel nuts are often sprinkled with a white liquid and then wrapped in something else before chewing, but I hadn’t realized that the white liquid was lime water.

          1. Yes sometimes it is and apparently one has to be careful not that it is my intent to try but industrial lime can be used…so caution is advised.

  4. Isn’t it amazing how we managed before modern appliances, like with a spring house, or cellar? The stoneware/egg advertisement is also very attractive!

    1. It’s really interesting how people kept food from spoiling in days gone by. I also was surprised by how colorful and eye-catching this ad was. There are relatively few color advertisements in hundred-year-old magazines – and this is definitely is one of the brightest I’ve seen. It may me think that the Stoneware Manufacturers Association must have had a lot of money.

    1. I sometimes use the water test if I’m not sure about an egg. I put cold water in a pan, and then put the egg into it. If it lays flat on the the bottom of the pan, it is very fresh. If it stands on one end at the bottom of the pan, it is less fresh, but still good to eat. However, if ii floats, it is not good.

      1. I wonder if this method still applies to eggs stored in water, as I *think * I remember that this method relies on the permeability of the shell allowing air to transfer into the egg as it ages.

  5. My mother has several crocks – and at one time there was a lid for one of them… I always thought the lid was for making sauerkraut but I see there were other uses! Who knew?!

  6. It absolutely floors me how consistent the price of eggs has been over the past hundred years. When I did a google search to adjust for inflation it said that $1.10 in 1920 adjusted for inflation would be $14.96 today. Insane.

    1. Whew, that’s a lot to pay for a dozen eggs. No wonder people wanted to preserve eggs in the spring to use during the winter when there were fewer fresh eggs available.

  7. Wow, I didn’t know you could eat an egg that was over eight months old! I’m always careful to use mine within the “sell by” date, or at least a week or so afterwards.

    1. I definitely look at the “sell by” date when purchasing eggs, and try to buy the ones with the date that is the furthest out.

  8. It never ceases to amaze me how clever the folks were back then at preserving food. I wonder if they would taste much different preserved by this method. I’m going to go to the links right now and see what they wrote about it. This is very interesting. Makes me wish I has some eggs to spare to experiment with. πŸ˜‰

    1. I sure wouldn’t have thought that eggs would last that long. I learn so many things from doing research for this blog. πŸ™‚

    1. I learned a lot as a result of doing this post – both from the directions in the advertisement and from readers’ comments.

  9. I stumbled upon this method recently from a YouTube video of someone who still does it. Then I went down a rabbit hole on the potential health concerns of the chemical used… and probably won’t be following this method should I have an overrun of eggs someday.

    1. It’s fascinating that people still use this method – but, similarly to you, I’ll probably just stick with fresh eggs.

    1. I have a vague memory of once reading that the tradition of Easter eggs began because people had so many eggs in the spring.

  10. I vaguely remember my grandparents using something like this. Recently, I bought 5 dozen eggs from Costco. Fortunately, there was room in my refrigerator for them and now I feel more secure about having food for isolating myself for the next 2 months. We can learn a lot from our ancestors who had to be resourceful, for sure.

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