The Prairie Homestead http://www.theprairiehomestead.com Homesteading | Self Sufficient Living | Living off the Land Wed, 04 May 2016 21:50:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.1 Do You Have to Refrigerate Eggs? http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/05/refrigerate-eggs.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/05/refrigerate-eggs.html#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 15:47:18 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=16239 No. And yes. How’s that for an answer? I sometimes wonder what people think when they walk into my kitchen and see a big bowl of farm fresh eggs sitting on my counter. We are so conditioned to the notion that you MUST refrigerate eggs, I’m imagine some guests likely think we’re trying to kill ourselves with […]

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should you refrigerate eggs?

No. And yes.

How’s that for an answer?

I sometimes wonder what people think when they walk into my kitchen and see a big bowl of farm fresh eggs sitting on my counter.

We are so conditioned to the notion that you MUST refrigerate eggs, I’m imagine some guests likely think we’re trying to kill ourselves with food poisoning. But, believe it or not, there is a method to my madness.

There are a few reasons I like to keep a bowl of eggs out:

  1. When we’re in the midst of egg-pocolypse (that season where the eggs just won’t stop), I can only keep so many dozen in my fridge
  2. Many baking recipes call for room temperature eggs, so it’s nice to have them ready to go on short notice
  3. Eggs are not something that *must* be refrigerated to keep from spoiling

Wait. Stop the presses! What did you say? Eggs won’t go bad if left out on the counter?

Hard to believe, huh? Especially since we Americans are so accustomed to only keep eggs in the refrigerator.

You likely wouldn’t have caught great-great-Grandma worrying about leaving her eggs on the counter, so where did this deeply held belief that we must refrigerate eggs come from?

how to store eggs at room temperature

Should You Refrigerate Eggs?

It all comes down to washing.

Like I talked about in my egg washing post (man, we sure talk about eggs a lot ’round here…), fresh eggs come with this magical film from the hen called the cuticle or “bloom”. The cuticle seals the egg and helps to prevent bacteria from entering the very porous shell. It also helps to prevent moisture loss, which happens as eggs age.

However, since the USDA requires commercially produced eggs to be washed and sanitized before being sold, the eggs you buy at the store no longer have the majority of their cuticle intact. Without this natural protective coating, eggs tend to more susceptible to contamination, which is why refrigeration is recommended to slow the growth of bacteria.

Fun fact: Washed and sanitized American eggs would technically be illegal in Europe, as European regulations specify eggs must NOT be washed before sale in an effort to prevent contamination. Europeans also tend to store their eggs at room temperature. Hmmmm….

What About Farm-Fresh Eggs?

Well, like most things, it depends on who you talk to…. But as far as I go? I don’t stress about leaving my beautiful fresh duck and chickens eggs out on the counter.

Because I don’t immediately wash most of my eggs I am comfortable leaving them at room temperature for a while.

My reasoning goes something like this:

  1. Because I don’t wash the majority of my eggs, the cuticle is still intact
  2. This cuticle protects the egg.
  3. I usually use the eggs within a week or so, so they aren’t out for extremely long periods of time. (One study found a prevalence of salmonella-positive eggs only after the eggs were stored at room temperature for at least 21 days. Shorter periods didn’t not show much significance.)

I have never had a problem with an egg going bad. Period. And it’s nice to have room-temperature eggs ready at a moment’s notice when I wanna bake a cake. Or whatever.

There are two exceptions to my rule:

  1. If I get a super dirty egg, I will wash it in hot water and then refrigerate it.
  2. On the rare occasion I have store-bought eggs, I always refrigerate them.

how to store eggs at room temperature

A Few Other Egg Storage Notes:

  • I only keep my eggs on the counter for about a week, if I need to keep them longer than that, I transition into the fridge.
  • Keep in mind that room temperature eggs will age faster, so for long-term storage, it’s best to move them into the fridge.
  • Once eggs have been refrigerated, they need to stay refrigerated. If a refrigerated egg is left out at room tempature for a long period of time, it will start to “sweat”.

How to Store Eggs on the Counter

So we answered the question of whether or not you really need to refrigerate eggs, so how about some super snazzy countertop storage ideas?

I don’t know about you, but there’s just something about a bowl of farm-fresh eggs in their various shades of brown, blue, and green that captures my imagination.

I lot of people swear by this contraption called an Egg Skelter (affiliate link). I don’t have one personally, but it looks like a good way to keep track of which eggs are newer and which ones have already been out for a while.

should you refrigerate eggs?

Or you could use a farmhousey enamel bowl.

how to store eggs at room temperature

Or a delightfully primitive basket

how to store eggs at room temperature

Or a colander in a bright color with a bit of vintage pop.

how to store eggs at room temperature

Or a classic wire basket designed specifically for gathering eggs

Or maybe all of the above, and you can swap them out weekly for a different look. Not that I do that or anything. *ahem* Hey, I told you I had a weird thing for eggs on the counter. 😉

So there you have it. If you want to keep your eggs for months at a time, the fridge is your best bet, but otherwise, enjoy gazing at those farm-fresh eggs out on your kitchen counter, just like great-great-grandma would have.

Should you refrigerate eggs? Great-grandma didn't. Here's why:Other Posts for Egg-Lovers

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How to Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/04/clean-essential-oil-diffuser.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/04/clean-essential-oil-diffuser.html#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:38:34 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=16241 I’ll take full responsibility… …for turning so many of you into essential oil diffuser fanatics. Believe it or not, two of the most popular posts to ever hit this homesteading blog have been about essential oil diffuser reviews and my 20 diffuser blend recipes. I think that’s awesome. I’m happy to oblige if y’all want to talk […]

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how to clean your essential oil diffuser

I’ll take full responsibility…

…for turning so many of you into essential oil diffuser fanatics.

Believe it or not, two of the most popular posts to ever hit this homesteading blog have been about essential oil diffuser reviews and my 20 diffuser blend recipes. I think that’s awesome.

I’m happy to oblige if y’all want to talk about diffusing oils in the midst of chatting about deep mulch gardening and making tallow soap. 😉 It’s all good.

One of the first questions people ask after getting their first diffuser is, “Do I need to clean this thing?” Which is exactly what we’re gonna talk about today.

When to Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser

Some people will tell you to tell your diffuser between every single use. Maybe that IS the best case scenario, but yeah… I don’t do that. Because quite frankly, I have other things to do (Like make maple duck egg custard. Of course.)

I tend to clean my machines about once per month, or when they start to run a little rough. By “running rough” I mean:

  • Not diffusing as effectively
  • Not spewing as much mist as they were before
  • Suddenly getting louder
  • Making a “grinding” noise

Or sometimes they won’t be doing any of these things, but they’ll just be super gross and grimy on the inside.

The good news? It only takes a few minutes to clean your diffuser and make it nice and shiny again. Which is especially good news for me because I have an obscene number of diffusers in my house (no, I’m not telling you how many.)

How to Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser in 3 Easy Steps

how to clean your essential oil diffuser

Step One:

Fill the water reservoir half full, and add in 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar. Run the diffuser for 5-10 minutes to allow the vinegar/water mixture to work through and loosen up the gunk.

how to clean your essential oil diffuser

Step Two:

Turn off the diffuser, unplug it, and dump the water out. Then wipe out the inside of the diffuser with a soft cloth, q-tip, or small brush. Pay special attention to cleaning the sensor*, as these often cause the most issues when they get dirty. You can use a drop of lemon essential oil on your brush or q-tip if you need to cut through extra grime.

(Be extra careful when you dump, as getting any water into the underside of the machine or into the motor area will ruin it.)

*Depending on which diffuser you have, the location and appearance of your sensor will vary. Usually it’s somewhere in the water basin area. Check your owner’s booklet if you aren’t sure.

how to clean your essential oil diffuser

Step Three:

Using a soft cloth, wipe down the outside of the machine to remove any fingerprints, smudges, etc. The cloth can be dampened with water, or you may lightly spray it with a bit of gentle cleaner or vinegar/water solution. Just be careful not to get excess water into the underside the machine.

Now fill the diffuser with fresh water and your favorite blend and enjoy.

Diffuser Cleaning Notes

how to clean an essential oil diffuser in 3 easy steps

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Top 6 Money Principles for Homesteaders http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/04/money-principles-homesteaders.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/04/money-principles-homesteaders.html#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 01:01:41 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=16170 I’m extremely comfortable being a weirdo. I suspect it may have something to do with my homeschooled upbringing, but I have been accustomed to “sticking out” from day one. Now as an adult, I continue to own my weirdness in multiple areas of my life– including homesteading, entrepreneurship, and even in our finances. I often ask […]

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money and financial advice for homesteaders

I’m extremely comfortable being a weirdo.

I suspect it may have something to do with my homeschooled upbringing, but I have been accustomed to “sticking out” from day one. Now as an adult, I continue to own my weirdness in multiple areas of my life– including homesteading, entrepreneurship, and even in our finances.

I often ask my readers what is their #1 struggle when it comes to homesteading, and the answer that shows up more than anything else?

Money. 

Hands down, it’s the response I see pop up time and time again, regardless of age, location, or lifestyle.

Money management is a subject near and dear to my heart, and it’s a big part of my weirdness. Choosing to  push against cultural norms in how we’ve managed our money has set the most amazing chain of events into motion for my husband and I. Not only did these decisions enable me to have the bandwidth to focus on growing/starting my online business six years ago, but those choices also enabled my husband to quit his traditional job at age 35 and so we can focus on building OUR dreams, instead of the dreams of others.

I’ve written about our money mindset and philosophy in the past, and as many of you know, we are huge fans of Dave Ramsey. Ten years ago when we initially read his Total Money Makeover book (affiliate link), he was not quite the household name he is today. I quickly had to learn to embrace the ‘weirdo’ label once again as people thought we were insane for refusing to have a car payment and only paying cash for stuff.

But we stuck with it, despite the raised eyebrows and ‘comments’ from others,  and I am so glad we did. The rewards have been more than I could have ever imagined.

Because I see so many people struggling to fit their homesteading dreams into their financial reality , I wanted to share some of the guiding principles that have served us so well over the years. As you read through the list, you won’t see anything earth-shattering, but these simple concepts have made all the difference for us. The key? Implementation. You must do it and stick with it– even when it’s not popular and not glamourous. Do it anyway. The harvest you’ll reap is worth it.

Top 6 Money Principles for Homesteaders (or anyone!)

1. Avoid debt like the plague

Ten years ago, my husband and I made the conscious decision to stay out of debt. That single choice has impacted our lives more than anything else we’ve ever done. I love seeing debt-free lifestyles gaining more accolades these days, but back when we started, it wasn’t exactly cool. In fact, we were ridiculed and criticized for driving our $1500 Ford Taurus and refusing to carry a balance on our credit card. But we didn’t care what other people thought, and we stuck with it. This mentality of only purchasing what we could afford set us up for success in our homesteading endeavors. (We do have a mortgage, but we borrowed far under what we were approved for, and will be paying it off entirely this year.) I don’t care how much debt you have right now– it’s never to late to shift and start a debt snowball. Will it require sacrifice? You bet. But it is, hands down, one of the best decisions we ever made.

2. Build an emergency fund

Stuff happens… And having all the working pieces of a homestead increases your chances of more “stuff” happening– equipment breaking, animals getting sick or injured, you name it. Start working today to build an “emergency fund” which is simply a dedicated savings account with 3-6 month of expenses set aside. Our emergency fund has saved our bacon so many times, and has prevented us from turning to credit cards when a horse has tried to cut her leg off (ugh), the truck has broken down, etc. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the fund if you need it is amazing.

3. Squash the comparisons

Keeping up with the Joneses… Or the homesteader next door… Or those picture-perfect Pinterest People. It’s a real temptation, man… I totally get it. Our human nature tends to drive us to compare and lament our perceived inadequacies, which in turn has a powerful pull in causing us to spend money we don’t have. Can I offer you a gentle piece of advice? Stop it.  Just. Stop. Because guess what? The Joneses are broke, and the Pinterest People aren’t showing you the dirty dishes and holes in lawn. Water the grass on your side of the homestead fence, stay in your own lane, and you’ll be amazed at how your mindset will shift!

4. Embrace humble beginnings

Last week I found our list of homestead goals from 2011, and I couldn’t help but smile. Back then, those things were SO BIG to me. Compared to our homestead goals now? They seem like a drop in the bucket, but it makes me proud of the way we started out. We creatively scrimped and saved to make this homesteading dream of ours work, and as our finances grew, so did our ability to dream bigger.

Fight the temptation to go into debt or financial distress in an attempt to have it all at once. You don’t need to buy an “instant farm”. Start small if you need to, live within your means, purchase what you can afford, and add a little bit at a time. That’s what we did. It truly is about the journey, not the destination.

5. Be mindful of money pits if your budget is tight

People are often surprised to learn raising your own food often costs *more* than simply purchasing it at the store. Truly, if this was all about saving money, I’d be much better off to buy the cheap gallons of milk from the grocery store, versus keeping our own milk cow.  But for us, this homesteading gig isn’t about saving money, it’s about quality of life. It’s about raising kids who understand the rhythms of nature and the satisfaction of hard work. It’s about fulfilling the childhood dreams of my husband and I. It’s about boosting our self-sufficiency and learning new skills. Therefore, I’m willing to accept that some aspects of homesteading simply may cost more.

That being said, we still try to make wise decisions when it comes to which animals we raise and what projects we invest in. For example: this year we chose to purchase piglets from the breeder down the road, versus shipping in heritage-breed piglets. With our current feed sources, raising pigs isn’t cheap to begin with (even with feeding scraps and milk…), and we couldn’t justify having to feed a slower-growing, smaller breed for a longer period of time and ultimately getting less meat. These sort of decisions will vary from from situation to situation, but I encourage you to carefully weigh which homesteading projects contribute to your long-term goals and quality of life, and which ones would just be throwing money to the wind.

6. Adopt an abundance mindset

Over the last year or so, I’ve become extremely aware of how I have lived my life in a scarcity mindset. Until it was pointed out to me, I had no idea how much it was negatively impacting my life and my thought process.

I define the scarcity mindset of living in a space of “never enough.” People entrenched in scarcity believe there is never enough time, never enough money, never enough resources, and if someone else gets ahead, then it means I can’t. Holding onto this belief will have a huge impact on how you view your life and how you are able to reach your goals– homesteading or otherwise. Trust me– I know this all too well.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been transitioning my mindset to one of abundance. Embracing abundance and shifting my thought patterns has given me so much more peace in regards to finances, time management, and generosity. One of my favorite ways to remind myself of abundance is to simply go outside. Nature is full of abundance (you can’t count the stars, or the blades of grass, or the particles of soil in the garden, or the leaves on a tree), and immersing myself it in reminds me there is enough.

(This article has great tips on transitioning from scarcity to abundance.)

See, I told ya.

Nothing earth-shattering, but following these simple principles has made all the difference for us as we’ve seen our homestead goals come to fruition. They can work for you too, if you simply implement them and stick with it. The choice is yours. 🙂

money and financial advice for homesteaders

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Maple Custard Recipe with Duck Eggs http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/04/maple-custard-recipe-duck-eggs.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/04/maple-custard-recipe-duck-eggs.html#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:40:33 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=16149 “Where did THESE come from?” That was my first thought when the Prairie Kids brought in some abnormally large, blueish eggs a month or two ago. We’ve only had brown eggs since the raccoons got our Amerucana hens last year, and I couldn’t fathom why on earth our Plymouth Rocks and Red Sex Links suddenly started laying […]

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maple custard recipe with duck eggs

“Where did THESE come from?”

That was my first thought when the Prairie Kids brought in some abnormally large, blueish eggs a month or two ago. We’ve only had brown eggs since the raccoons got our Amerucana hens last year, and I couldn’t fathom why on earth our Plymouth Rocks and Red Sex Links suddenly started laying giant blue eggs.

Until I remembered we have ducks.

Duh, Jill. Duh. 

Ever since, I’ve been on a mission to figure out the best ways to utilize these lovely duck eggs. Not only are duck eggs larger and richer than chicken eggs, but they also are reported to contain higher amounts of Omega-3s and protein. They have a bit more of an “intense” flavor, so most people prefer to add them to recipes, versus eating them plain. I’ve been experimenting with our duck eggs in all sorts of recipes lately, and have been nothing but impressed.

Most recently, I’ve been making duck egg custard, which makes me feel all sorts of fancy when I serve it in little custard cups after supper. But truthfully, homemade custard is incredibly simple to make, and uses milk and eggs, which are usually plentiful on a homestead.

maple custard recipe with duck eggs

Homemade Maple Custard Recipe

Makes 5-6 servings

  • 3 whole duck eggs or 4 whole chicken eggs
  • 1/3 cup* real maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (how to make vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Hot water

*As written, these custards are delicately sweet. If you prefer a sweeter dessert, add 2-3 tablespoons of additional maple syrup. 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Fill a teapot with water, and heat it just to boiling. Set aside.

Add the milk to a small saucepan, and scald it (heat it until it’s just about ready to boil, but don’t let it boil all the way).

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.

Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the scalded milk. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer (to remove lumps), then pour custard cups or oven-safe ramekins half-full with the mixture. Sprinkle ground nutmeg on the top of each cup.

Place the ramekins in a oven safe pan (like a large baking dish), and fill the pan with the hot water to create a water bath for your custard cups. The water should come halfway up the sides of the cups. (This ensures they cook gently and evenly).

Bake for 35-55 minutes, or until the custards are set but still “loose”. (I check by touching the top lightly with my finger, if it is still liquid, keep cooking. A little jiggle is OK, though.)

Remove from the oven and serve immediately if you like warm custard (I don’t). Otherwise, refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving for a silky smooth, chilled custard.

maple custard recipe with duck eggs

Homemade Custard Notes

  • My Pyrex ramekins are slightly larger, so this recipe makes enough to fill 5 of them. If you are using smaller cups, you can easily get six servings from this recipe.
  • If you’d rather use granulated sugar in this recipe, you can. Simple omit the syrup and add 1/3 cup of sugar instead.
  • Although I haven’t tried it yet, honey would be awesome in this recipe too.
  • If it’s berry season, a handful of fresh berries would be heavenly on top of these maple custard cups.

4.9 from 8 reviews
Maple Custard Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 whole duck eggs or 4 whole chicken eggs
  • ⅓ cup* real maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Hot water
Instructions
  1. *As written, these custards are delicately sweet. If you prefer a sweeter dessert, add 2-3 tablespoons of additional maple syrup.
  2. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Fill a teapot with water, and heat it just to boiling. Set aside.
  4. Add the milk to a small saucepan, and scald it (heat it until it's just about ready to boil, but don't let it boil all the way).
  5. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.
  6. Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the scalded milk. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer (to remove lumps), then pour custard cups or oven-safe ramekins half-full with the mixture. Sprinkle ground nutmeg on the top of each cup.
  7. Place the ramekins in a oven safe pan (like a large baking dish), and fill the dish with the hot water to create a water bath for your custard cups. The water should go halfway up the sides of the cups. (This ensures they cook gently and evenly).
  8. Bake for 35-55 minutes, or until the custards are set but still "loose". (I check by touching the top lightly with my finger, if it is still liquid, keep cooking until they are set. A little jiggle is OK, though.)
  9. Remove from the oven and serve immediately if you like warm custard (I don't). Otherwise, refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving for a silky smooth, chilled treat.

Maple Custard Cups recipe made with duck eggs

 

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