People Are Turning to Freeze-Dried Eggs Amidst the Egg Shortage—But What Are They and Are They Safe?

If poached or jammy is your jam, these won't be as satisfying. But baking? That might be another story…

If you've shopped for eggs in the past couple months, you may have noticed that the prices have jumped rapidly. While still not as pricey as those trendy $20(!) Erewhon smoothies, the cost of a dozen eggs spiked about 60% between December 2021 and December 2022, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While wholesale market figures hint that relief may be on the way for consumers soon, eggs are still a hefty investment compared to recent memory. As a result, some Americans are opting to crack into alternatives. The plant-based egg replacement market has been growing for decades, and for the first time ever last year, some of these egg alternatives were actually cheaper than real eggs. And possibly as a result of more versatile options and the price parity, the market research firm IRI reports that sales of these egg dupes rose by almost 20% in 2022 alone.

Beyond vegan egg alternatives, other creative home cooks are turning to something that only campers, hotel breakfast buffet cooks and homesteaders might be familiar with: Freeze-dried eggs.

a photo of an egg
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What Are Freeze-Dried Eggs—And Are They Safe?

Those powdered eggs the hotel or airport breakfast might serve in a warming tray are sometimes reconstituted from a powder…hence the "unique" texture. If not real eggs on that buffet, that scramble is likely made with water plus a powder of real eggs that have had the moisture removed by spray drying or freeze-drying. (ICYWC, these differ from products like Bob's Red Mill's Egg Replacer, which is a powder made from potato starch, tapioca powder and psyllium husk.) About 1 tablespoon of egg powder mixed with 2 tablespoons of water equals one fresh egg.

Folks like Idaho farmer Ron Kern of Back Forty Farms are getting creative and selling freeze-dried eggs. To make freeze-dried eggs, you simply crack hen eggs, mix the egg whites with the yolks, then transfer that egg blend to shallow trays. A special freeze-drying machine can take that raw egg mixture down to -40 degrees F, and as the machine slowly reheats, the moisture is removed.

Due to the freeze-drying machine's ability to rapidly get icy-cold, this is different from dehydration. Since dehydration is a longer and slower process, it tends to impact flavor and texture more than freeze-drying does, too. Proponents of freeze-dried eggs also claim that a freeze dryer's speedy temp changes don't put raw food at risk of hanging out in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) food safety "temperature danger zone" of 40° to 140° F.

The benefits of freeze-drying eggs? You can store and transport eggs more efficiently throughout the country—with no risk of cracking and with the promise of a far longer shelf life. Plus, freeze-dryer manufacturer Harvest Right says that its freeze-drying machine may be able to help preserve the nutritional quality of eggs for up to 25 years if those freeze-dried eggs are handled properly.

The list of drawbacks of freeze-dried eggs is long, though. Say goodbye to any possibility of poaching, frying or diving into a jammy egg yolk. Beyond using as an egg replacement in baked goods, which those vegan egg swaps like JUST Egg also do really well, a scramble is your only option. Several social media users who have sampled the reconstituted eggs at home deem the texture challenging, clumpy, gritty or gummy. The FDA also warns that they're unaware of any way consumers can safely freeze-dry eggs at home, so you might be putting yourself at risk for foodborne illness.

The Bottom Line

The jury is still out on whether freeze-dried eggs are safe, so if you do try your hand at freeze-drying your own powdered eggs or buy from a small vendor that's not inspected by food safety pros, proceed with caution.

Since that's the case, we'll be sticking to regular fresh eggs for eating, and might sprinkle in a few plant-based swaps until egg prices even out. And for baking, a "flaxseed egg" and these tried-and-true egg substitutes seem like a much safer bet than freeze-dried

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