Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

How to survive the egg shortage

It is difficult for most consumers to imagine a life without eggs, but we might soon have to ration how many we use due to the egg shortage.

In an attempt to navigate the egg shortage due to the bird flu outbreak in our country, consumers are looking for ways to keep the eggs they can lay their hands on for longer…or even how they can get along without any at all.

The good news is that you can freeze eggs or substitute them in some recipes, although it might be difficult to match it as a good source of protein in your diet.

Dr Hanli de Beer, senior lecturer in the department of consumer science at the Northwest University, says eggs are known as a good source of protein.

“They are nutritious, versatile and convenient to whip up a quick meal just as they are or as part of a meal, such as a souffle or quiche, hard-boiled in a salad or even curried.”

She says raw eggs in the shell can be kept for quite a long time in the fridge and in our warm climate it is in any way a good idea to keep them in the fridge. The cardboard packaging also protects it from drying out.

“Eggs have natural protection. The porous shell has a protective layer, which is why they are not washed before they are sold and the inside has two membranes that protects the white and the yolk against microbiological contamination.”

De Beer says she has frozen eggs separately to use in baking, but not to eat and defrosted it overnight in the fridge. To freeze whole eggs, her advice is to crack it and mix the white and the yolk without whipping in air before freezing it in a sealed container in the freezer.

A silicone icetray also works well and you can use one egg per cube. Cover the ice tray with cling wrap and as soon as they are frozen, take them out of the icetray and keep them in a Ziplock bag.

ALSO READ: SA stores could get more eggs on shelves as industry turns to liquid and powder forms

Use an ice tray for freezing

De Beer says using an ice tray will ensure that you do not have to guess how much of the mixture makes up one egg for a recipe. And always defrost the eggs in the fridge and not at room temperature to prevent contamination.

According to the American egg board, fresh eggs can be kept for four to five weeks and can be frozen for up to a year. If you do not know when the eggs were laid, look at the expiry date on the packaging.

“If the expiry date was just a few days ago, use the eggs in a recipe where it is exposed to enough heat, but crack it separately in a cup before adding it to other ingredients. If it has a strong odour, rather discard it. The white of an old egg is also more liquid than that of a fresh one and the yolk also looks flatter.”

De Beer says she has never frozen boiled eggs, but she expects that the texture will not be the same once it is defrosted.

What about powdered eggs that government wants to import?

De Beer says there will be instructions on the packaging on how to use it and how to return it to a more liquid form, but it can also be used with the dry ingredients in a recipe with more liquid added than normally.

Eggs are an important part of your diet because it is a complete protein. A complete protein contains all nine types of amino acids that your body cannot make itself and that you must get from your diet. Meat is another complete protein, De Beer says.

“An egg is regarded as a perfect protein and therefore it will be difficult to replace. There are people who do not eat them, but for most people they are a versatile and affordable protein.”

Eggs also play an important role in processed food to thicken, bind, emulsify, add taste and flavour, improve the texture and act as a rising agent, she says.

ALSO READ: ‘Baking is my future’ – Egg donations save cleaner-turned-baker’s business

Substituting eggs in recipes

Various internet sources also suggest these options to try:

  • Whisk together water, oil and baking powder if you need more than one egg for a recipe, because it will not make the baked result too greasy or change its flavour profile like other substitutes. To substitute one egg, use two tablespoons of water, two teaspoons of baking powder and one teaspoon of vegetable oil for baked goods such as cookies, quick breads and brownies.
  • Try applesauce or mashed banana to add moisture to baked goods and give it a taste of apple or banana, while also adding extra sweetness, which means you will have to use a little less sugar. To substitute one egg, use a quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana.
  • You can also make a flax egg, which will add a nutty flavour, which can work for baked goods using whole grains or oats, but it will be less suited for a light sponge cake. To replace one egg, mix one tablespoon of ground flax seed and three tablespoons of water in a small bowl and then let it rest for five minutes to allow the flax to absorb the water and the mixture to thicken.
  • Or try aquafaba, the liquid in a can of chickpeas. It will not make your cakes taste like beans. Three tablespoons of aquafaba will replace one egg.

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