Can you scramble frozen eggs?
August 2, 2013 3 Comments
I guess I’d better clarify that I’m talking about chicken eggs. In our scary high-tech world, “frozen eggs” often means human egg cells that have been frozen for later attempts at reproduction. If you have that kind of frozen eggs, do not scramble them. The results could be disastrous, or at least not very tasty.
My chicken eggs were in an 24-pack from Costco stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Poor old Rator has not been feeling well lately. We think it was the extremely humid, hot weather last month that caused trouble for our refrigerator, which is the type that has one temperature control for refrigerator and freezer compartments. (NOTE: If you are choosing a new fridge+freezer, choose one with separate controls for the two sections. We used to have that kind, and it was much easier to correct problems with one section being too cold or not cold enough.) A lot of frost built up on the upper back wall of the refrigerator section of this supposedly frost-free appliance, and puddles of water appeared at unpredictable times either inside the refrigerator or on the floor next to it. Daniel eventually realized that a drainage tube was totally blocked with ice and cleared it out, and that helped a lot. However, the recent condition of the eggs indicates that the problem isn’t completely solved.
Last weekend, I found that one of the three eggs remaining in the previous carton was broken–even the yolk had broken, and the fractured shell was sitting in a puddle of partly-dried raw egg. I threw that in the compost, cooked the other two eggs, and bought a new carton. I carefully checked that all the eggs were intact before buying.
Wednesday, I needed an egg to make Cheesy Walnut Burgers. It’s lucky that I brought the whole carton out of the refrigerator, rather than just opening it and grabbing the egg closest to me, because this way I noticed the four cracked eggs. Visible cracks across the tops and down the sides, but no leakage of egg white. The cracks appeared sort of glued shut. Huh?
I picked up one of the eggs. Indeed, it was dry all over and not sitting in a puddle, and it didn’t crumble into my hand like I expected. It seemed unusually cold. I tried to tap it against the mixing bowl to break it open, and that’s how I finally realized it was frozen. Weird! I now realized that the previous broken egg–which I’d blamed on someone being rough with the carton–must have frozen and cracked, then thawed and leaked out of its shell.
I washed the outsides of the four frozen eggs, to keep whatever might be on the outside of the shells from contaminating the inside when they thawed. I put them in a bowl and set them on the refrigerator’s top shelf, near the front. I moved the bread (since I don’t care if it gets frozen) to where the egg carton had been so I could put the non-cracked eggs on a higher shelf. I nudged Rator’s temperature knob a little to the warmer side. I went back to making the burgers. They totally refused to stay together while I was cooking them, but I think that may have had more to do with my relaxed attitude toward the proportions of cheese, nuts, and bread in this batch (using up what we had) than with the egg. Oh well, we enjoyed our Cheesy Pecan Crumbles, along with Cucumber Salad.
The next morning, I checked on the eggs that had been frozen. They still weren’t leaking, but they no longer felt super-cold. I warmed up a skillet and prepared to make scrambled eggs for breakfast.
When I broke the eggs, I found that the egg white closest to the shell was liquid, but the part closer to the yolk was crystalline. The yolks broke easily but seemed a bit thick. I set the stove burner a little lower than usual and cooked the eggs slowly. They turned out fine. Nicholas and I thought the flavor and texture seemed completely normal, except that there were a few tiny grits of eggshell here and there.
My conclusion: If you accidentally froze some eggs, they’re still good, but you’ll want to use them soon because the cracked shells could let in bacteria that will spoil them. Let them thaw enough that you can break them. Scramble them, rather than trying to bake with them, because they might not have their normal physical properties, especially if still partly frozen. Be careful not to get eggshell in your food.
Now that I’ve survived my uninformed experimentation, how about some research? The American Egg Board says you can freeze eggs on purpose and use them up to one year later, but you want to take them out of the shells first! (Because liquids expand when they freeze, an egg that freezes in the shell will crack the shell.) They also have some other tips for best results. I’ll take their advice if I ever see an awesome sale on eggs when I have the freezer space. Meanwhile, it’s good to know that if we accidentally freeze our eggs but discover them quickly, we can still use them!