By Duane Inglin | 11/24/2014
Pautzke’s Ask A Mixologist forum has become a staple in the trout, salmon and steelhead industry. We receive emails daily (many of which are forwarded to me) from anglers throughout North America. One of the most common questions we field references egg storage. I can associate well. As salmon and steelhead anglers we put forth the effort, create the ultimate bait and want to know how to take care of it.
I’m here to answer some of the dozens of questions we’ve been asked in recent weeks regarding egg storage, and add some advise from personal experience. Two are the most common questions are, “Is there a difference between storing eggs in the refrigerator vs the freezer?” And, “How about short term vs. long term storage.”
Both are great questions I’ll do my best to tackle. As always, keep in mind, there’s many adequate ways to store eggs. This is simply how I do it. There are a number of ways to cure and store eggs. I’m not going to debate jars vs bags. I know what works for me and what’s been successful and will focus on that. I use Ziplocs. If you use quart jars they work, too.
When the egg curing process is complete I use a couple options. Oftentimes, I strain the minimal amount of juice that is left and prep them to fish. Another option is to leave the juice and store them in my bait fridge for a few weeks until I prep them to fishing. Meanwhile, if I don’t plan to use them I will put them in the freezer. Eggs will keep in the freezer for a long time. On the other hand, keep in mind, is air is the enemy. If you manage to keep air off the eggs and they’ll be usable for several years.
Long-term storage and preventing freezer burn is easy. If I plan to freeze my eggs when they are done curing, the Ziploc bag I cured them in goes directly into the freezer, hopefully with almost no air in it. When done correctly I’ve rolled out most of the air in the final stage of curing. If not, open a small section of the seal, roll the air out of the bag and reseal.
I place the bag in the freezer for a couple weeks. This is to ensure that the eggs are frozen solid. You don’t want any soft eggs if you plan to put them under vacuum, as it will crush the eggs.
Once frozen, take them out of the freezer, slide the bag into a pre-cut FoodSaver bag, vacuum seal and place back in the freezer. If you are concerned that all the air isn’t out of the Ziploc simply pop the seal. Place the bag into the vacuum bag and apply vacuum. The break in the seal will ensure that any air is pulled out of the Ziploc.
If you don’t have a FoodSaver and want to vacuum pack your eggs there are alternatives, namely Reynolds Handi-Vac and ZipVac. I prefer ZipVAc. It’s easier to use with the hand pump and does a great job. The process is the same. Take your frozen eggs out of the freezer and slide the Ziploc of eggs into the ZipVac bag and apply vacuum. The great thing about this method is that you don’t get any egg goo in the ZipVac bag itself and they are reusable. This is a huge cost savings compared to FoodSaver.
These eggs have been frozen in a ZipVac bag since 2010. The bag has held the vacuum and the eggs are in great condition. The newer version of ZipVac gives you a few options and a battery powered pump. Check them out at www.ZipVac.net.
In case you were wondering if eggs left in the freezer would burn these eggs have been in my freezer for two years. They are not vacuum packed. I simply rolled the air out of the bag, sealed it and placed it into a second bag. This method will work if you don’t have a FoodSaver or a method to remove the air.
The easiest and most economical way to preserve eggs without air getting to them is with Cling Wrap. It’s simple and works. Take the cured eggs out of the bag and place them on a sheet of Cling Wrap. Roll the eggs up in the Cling Wrap and make sure there is no air trapped.
Place the eggs into a freezer Ziploc, roll the air out and you’re good to go. Eggs frozen with this method are good for at least a year.
Any and all of these methods are proven. A point to remember when freezing eggs and then vacuum sealing with any method is to make sure they are frozen before placing them under vacuum or they will crush into a pile of goo. Second, when you take them out of the freezer release the vacuum and pull them out of the vacuum bag. I then pop the seal on the Ziploc and allow the eggs to thaw at room temperature. If you pull them out of the freezer and let thaw under vacuum, it
will crush the eggs as they thaw and expand.
Once completely thawed you are now ready to prep them for fishing. Remember you froze them with the extra juice in the bag, so the eggs will be wet and juicy. How to prep eggs for Salmon vs Steelhead is a whole other topic that I will break down next time.
Editor’s Note: Duane Inglin is the co-host of Northwest Wild County radio in Seattle and a lifelong egg curer. He’s proud of the Bait Lab in his garage and hoards eggs.