Cured egg yolks have all the richness of fine cheese, along with a salty tang that comes from the curing process. They’re equally at home finely grated on top of pasta or topping a tasty dessert.
Salt cured egg yolks are preserved with salt, obviously, but that’s not the end of the story.
What if I told you that there was a tiny creature at work inside these tasty orbs of flavor. The same tiny creature that’s responsible for salami, sauerkraut, and yogurt?
No, you say? Too good to be true? That’s like saying bacon, ham, and sausage all come from the same “magical” animal. It’s just not possible.
And yet, here we are, with perfectly preserved pro-biotic egg yolks for the tasting.
A high salt environment inhibits certain spoiling bacteria, which allows other desirable cultures to dominate.
It’s not that salt prevents anything from living in the yolks, it’s just that it slows the growth of some types of bacteria until the others can take over and release lactic acid. It’s the lactic acid that actually preserves the food, and the salt just facilitated the whole thing.
Good work Lactobacillus!
The whole adventure starts with egg yolks nestled into tiny cradles of salt. Pour about 1/2 inch of salt into a nonreactive container, like a glass or stoneware baking dish.
Use the back of a spoon to make little indentations for the egg yolks, and then carefully separate the eggs. Be sure that the yolk isn’t punctured, or it’ll just run everywhere into the salt.
Carefully set each yolk in its salt divot.
Once your platter is full of egg yolks, it’s time to completely cover the yolks. Add more salt until the yolks are completely covered.
They should be totally invisible, covered by at least 1/4 inch of salt on top. All you should see is tiny bumps in the salt where once you could see the bright yellow of egg yolks.
The egg yolks will lie in wait beneath the salt, slowly curing, for about a week.
They should be kept cold during this process, to keep things cultured slow. Place the whole tray in the fridge and forget about it until next week.
Once the salt cure time is up, dig each egg yolk out of the salt. They’ll be firm enough to remove by hand, but still a bit tacky because they haven’t been dried yet.
The next step is to air dry the salt-cured yolks.
I’ve seen recipes that try to speed up the process by placing the yolks in a 200-degree oven for about an hour. That does indeed dry them out, but that’s like saying you can speed up the curing process on prosciutto by sticking it in the microwave.
It just seems wrong to me, to spend all that time trying to cultivate a living food full of flavor, and then take a shortcut right at the end.
You’ve already had them curing for a week in salt, surely you’re patient enough to see the whole process through?
Dust any extra salt off the yolks, using a damp towel if necessary.
Place them on a length of cheesecloth, and then wrap the cheesecloth around them like a burrito. The yolks should stay separated to ensure good airflow and allow for even drying.
Lacking cheesecloth, any clean scrap of cloth will work. Things like a section of an old (but clean) cotton t-shirt, bed sheet or thin flour sack towel. Just nothing too heavy that’ll prevent airflow.
Tieing a bit of butchers twine at intervals between the yolks will keep them separate, while at the same time holding the cheesecloth firmly around the yolks.
The whole thing will look a bit like a string of caramel candies. Each yolk tucked into its own little chamber, all in one neat string.
At this point, it’s time to air dry the egg yolks.
Hang the string somewhere cool for 7 to 10 days to allow the yolks to air dry. The fridge is a good spot, or a cool dark back closet.
Ideally, it’d be below 50 degrees.
If you’ve ever made any salt-cured meats, this whole process is looking pretty familiar. It’s was the just about the exact same process when we made duck breast prosciutto and guanciale (cured pork jowl).
The seasoning is a bit different and the cure times are different, but all the steps are the same. Once you’ve done one salt cure, it’s just the beginning.
Think of salt-cured egg yolks as a bit of gateway charcuterie.
At the end of the drying process, the yolks should be firm but not rock hard.
If you allow them to dry too long they’ll be tough like egg yolk jerky, which is still edible, but it’s much harder to grate.
We use a small micro plane to grate tiny bits of the salt-cured egg yolks for use on foods.
At this point, you have a rich, salty, tangy topping that can be used just about anywhere. Many people consider it a great dairy-free Parmesan cheese substitute, but it’s very versatile.
Chefs are grating it on top of desserts for an exotic touch, and salty sweet is downright delicious, especially mixed in with the richness of the yolks.
Salt Cured Egg Yolk Variations
Beyond simply curing egg yolks in salt, there are a couple of minor tweaks you can make to the process for slightly different results.
Sugar Cured Egg Yolks
In the cure, you have the option to use all salt, or change it up and use half salt and half sugar.
The sweet and salty cure creates a distinctly different result, and that one is even more suited to use in a dessert.
I like the idea of putting a bit of the salt/sugar version as a salad topping too.
Partially Cured Egg Yolks (soft cured)
Curing egg yolks isn’t an all or nothing prospect. Sure, if you want them to keep for any length of time you’ll need to cure them for a week and then air dry them, but preservation isn’t always the primary goal.
I’ve also seen partially dried egg yolk cures used in a different way.
They’re only barely cured, and the lactic acid bacteria haven’t really gone to work yet, but I thought it was novel none the less. If you place the fresh yolks in a salt cure and then allow them to cure for a mere 16 to 24 hours.
At this point, they’re used without any drying time, they’ll be firm but still spreadable. That makes an interesting addition to a charcuterie plate, for dipping or spreading, but those “soft cured egg yolks” aren’t fully cured preserved eggs.
Salt Cured Egg Yolks
Salt cured egg yolks are easy to make at home, and they're a flavorful topping for both savory and sweet dishes.
- egg yolks
- salt, kosher or canning
- Place a 1/2 inch thick layer of salt in the bottom of a non-reactive container such as a glass baking pan or Tupperware.
- Use the back of a spoon to create divots for each egg yolk. They can be relatively close together, but the egg yolks should be at least 1/4 inch apart at the sides.
- Separate eggs, being careful not to puncture the yolk. Remove as much egg white as possible and place the yolks in the divots.
- Cover the eggs completely with salt so that you can no longer see any yellow.
- Place the salt covered yolks in the refrigerator to cure for 1 week.
- Remove the yolks, dust off the salt and wrap the yolks in cheesecloth.
- Hang the yolks to dry, in the refrigerator or in a cool dark place (under 50 degrees). Dry for 7 to 10 days.
- Once the yolks are firm and easy to grate, store them tightly covered in the refrigerator.
- Be sure to use either kosher salt or canning salt. Table salt has anti-caking agents and additives.
- This recipe can also be made with a cure composed of half salt and half sugar.
- Salt Cured Egg Yolks should keep for at least 3-4 weeks (refrigerated), if not much longer. Keep the container tightly sealed so that they don't dry out further.
Egg Preservation Techniques
Looking for more ways to preserve eggs?
- 30+ Ways to Preserve Eggs
- Preserving Eggs in Lime (Keeps 12+ Months)
- How to Make Pickled Eggs
- Easy Pickled Quail Eggs
Food Preservation Techniques
Salt cures aren’t the only way to preserve food at home…
- Beginners Guide to Water Bath Canning
- Beginners Guide to Pressure Canning
- Beginners Guide to Lacto-Fermentation
- 100+ Dehydrator Recipes
Wow, this looks like a fun project! Especially since I’m rapidly learning that I’m sensitive to dairy…
I wouldn’t have any qualms about using farm-fresh eggs for this recipe, but I don’t have access to them right now. How much of a risk do you think regular store-bought eggs would be? Would the lactofermentation prevent any sort of food poisoning from raw eggs?
Not if you keep the eggs cool enough 41 degrees should be more than safe
Hi there! This sounds so interesting and I plan to try it. Just to clarify, you used regular old table salt and not something specific for preserving like pickling salt, correct? Many thanks for sharing this idea/recipe!
Good point, I need to be specific about that. You need to use kosher salt or canning salt, other types have additives and anti-caking agents in them.
Can I use sea salt?
I would think that you could use sea salt as long as it isn’t too coarse. The reasoning for using the kosher or canning salt is to avoid the anti-caking ingredients found in table salt.
Do we just store them in a container in the fridge after the curing is complete?
Yes, that is correct.
Hello, Do you reuse your salt or salt/sugar mix for another batch of these Salt Cured Egg Yolks? (I would think it would be fine to reuse for a while)
Everywhere I’ve seen instructions for these it says not to re-use the salt our of an abundance of caution. Personally, I see no reason why you couldn’t, just make sure you’ve picked out any stray flecks of yolk and be sure no broken egg yolks go into it. While that’s my opinion, I can’t speak to the safety of that practice, so use your best judgement.
Why not use some of that salt to have a good soak in the tub? I believe salt is said to have detoxifying properties. Should be safe enough. Might be other things you can do
It’s discouraged because of mold (which, unlike bacteria, doesn’t mind salt). Coarse salt retains quite a bit of moisture without dissolving, and invisible remnants of yolks will provide enough sustenance for mold to grow and infect the next batch of yolks.
If you really want or need to reuse the salt, you might try pouring it on a tray and bake it in the oven for a hour or two, raking it every once in a while. That should chase out any remaining moisture and kill the mold spores. However, depending on the type of salt used, it may form lumps.
How do you keep them afterward to prevent further drying out and for how long?
I placed them into a Tupperware in the fridge and they stored well that way. I’ve read they last in the fridge with good quality for about 3 months, stored in an airtight container. I’ve never kept them that long though, we generally use them up quickly.
How long would you cure a goose yolk for?
So I did a bit of research for you, and the consensus seems to be about the same amount of time. A week in salt is really overkill so far as salt curing goes generally, but it’s what’s called for everywhere they talk about curing egg yolks. Now I’m wondering why they’re cured so much longer than other things. For example, when I made salt-cured duck breast it was only in the salt for about 24 hours.
Anyhow, the consensus seems to be that the time is the same, and if I get more information on the specifics of why yolks are cured so long I’ll let you know. Now I’m curious…
Do you cover them while in the refrigerator?
In the salt, I didn’t. They were just in an open pan covered in salt. There’s nothing wrong with covering them though. Once they’re finished, they should be stored in a sealed container and mine go into a Tupperware.
I was wondering about some recipes for using these
I don’t have any, but you can grate them onto pasta, into salads, over toast, etc.
Could different herbs be added to the salt to add flavor the eggs?
I imagine you could and that sounds like a great idea!
I’ve just spent the past two weeks following this guide and anxiously waiting to see the results. All I can say is omg. They’re amazing. I have had salt cured egg yolks previously, however, dry curing in cheese clothe as suggested in this guide takes them to the next level. I’m half a yolk through a batch of eight and I’ve already got plans for my next batch.
Thank you for another wonderful article.
What other ways can you use these eggs? Can you just eat them the way they are or are they just for using as a dash grated on top of things?
I just found you a week ago and am REALLY enjoying All your articles. Thank you for sharing your knowledge for those of us that are just starting on this adventure.
Eating them straight can be a little intense, mainly because of the salt content. Grating works wonderfully, as does thinly slicing them. If you want to eat them without grating them over another dish, thin slices on crackers or something similar might be your best bet.
Thank you Ashley….that’s what I thought. Thin slices on crackers (maybe with a dash of something else on top) would be a really unique appetizer to bring to a party!
I forgot to ask you – what do you do with the egg whites when making these – Freeze them?
I would love to read more articles about your house and being off the grid.
Thank you for your lovely blog and for responding to my questions.
For the egg whites, I’ll add extras to our morning scrambled eggs (like 2 eggs and 2 whites per person, scrambled) to use them up. I also love making these coconut macaroons with a few of them: https://elanaspantry.com/paleo-coconut-macaroons/
Thank you so much!
Can you put the cured yolks into a mason jar? And you mention aboit freezing…how would you freeze them?
You could definitely put them in a mason jar in the fridge. Just make sure they are sealed tightly so they don’t get dried out. If you wanted to try freezing them, I would just make sure they are wrapped really well and pop them in the freezer.
Measure out whites and freeze to make angel food cake…I make into cupcakes and freeze with no frosting until thawed and ready to use
I used kosher salt and then realized afterwards that it does have an anticaking agent. My eggs seems to have turned out ok although they seem maybe a little gummy on the inside when I grate them. I did 7 days in salt and 7 days air dry.
Interesting…I thought a part of the salt being kosher was that it didn’t have additives. I guess I was mistaken on that one? I’ll recommend people use sea salt or canning salt in the future.
That’s exactly what I thought too which is why I did not even think about it when I used it. The ingredients are salt and prussiate of soda and specifically mentions it is an anticaking agent. The brand is Windsor. I’ll pay more attention next time. Would sea salt work too?
Sea salt should work wonderfully, provided it also doesn’t have additives. I think it doesn’t, but now that you mentioned kosher salt had additives I’m less sure about all of them and I’d check individual brands.
Thanks for your help! I checked the sea salt I have and it is iodized, which I think is also not recommended?
I will be checking every box of salt I buy going forward! 😉
From a grocery vendor: kosher salt is called kosher because it’s used by kosher butchers to remove excess liquid out of meat. For that purpose, it has large grains (compared to ordinary kitchen salt), as to make it slower to dissolve. It may or may not contain additives depending on the source and manufacturing process. It can be made either by grinding rock salt, or by evaporating saline solution. The rock salt variant is less likely to have additives.
(I’d generally avoid sea salt entirely, since it was recently found to contain plastics micro-particles. Plus, oceans are getting filthier all the time. As long as sea salt is available and affordable, there’s no reason to use a cheap substitute made out of sea water.)
Anyway, I just made my first jar of pickled eggs. Wish me luck. If they turn out well, I’m gonna try this recipe next. 🙂
I’m confused about how to hang them in the fridge. I’m in a warm climate so I don’t think I have any options besides the fridge but I can’t see how there’s room to hang something. Would just laying the cheesecloth wrapped yolks on the shelf in the fridge be an issue?
Laying them on the shelf is probably not going to give you adequate air circulation for even drying.
I used a tall, empty mason jar in the fridge. Left the top string a little long. Trapped the string with the screwed-on ring, and dangled the yolk/cheesecloth assembly on the outside of the jar. If it’s too long, do the same to the other end with another jar, like an egg yolk suspension bridge.
Thanks for the tip. I love that you called it an egg yolk suspension bridge.
What are your thoughts on re-using the salt for another batch?
As long as the salt is clean, it should still work the same.
Can you vacuum seal the eggs after the process is done? Then freeze them? I’m not sure if anyone has tried this. Great information, I’m making mine today.
I haven’t tried it myself, but I assume it could extend their life further.
I’m wondering if using smoked salt would present any problems for the cure. The method presents so many variations.
Nope, it should work just fine.
Hello, Have you tried beating a few yokes together and pouring them into a depression in the salt and covering over with salt, etc?
And what about egg whites?
I haven’t tried either of those methods, but if you try it, let me know how it goes.
Would a cracked and runny yolk work just as well as the whole yolk?? May or may not have cracked a few… asking for a friend… haha
haha, you can tell your friend that I’m not really sure. I believe the salt would permeate the yolk if it were broken.
Do you hang the yolks in the fridge to air cure? Or just somewhere that it is under 50 degrees?
You can hang them anywhere as long as it is dark and under 50 degrees.
1. Just thinking but re-using salt should not be an issue if any remaining egg bits are removed before placing in a 350 deg oven for at least 20 minutes.
2. I think i’m going to use smoked salt for a batch. should add an interesting twist.
What will happen if i did’t put it in the fridge ?
They will not cure as slowly as they need to.
can i use iodized salt for this?
You do not want to use iodized salt in this recipe as it has anti-caking ingredients and additives.
Would these work for Chinese mooncakes do you think or would they be too salty? Mooncakes are a pastry shell wrapped around some variety of sweet filling with a preserved yolk in the middle.
They are really salty, and I can’t imagine eating one whole. I actually looked this up now that you mention it, and it seems that for moon cakes they use the yolk from a salted duck egg, where the whole egg (in shell) has been stored in a salt brine. Here’s a tutorial: https://thewoksoflife.com/salted-duck-eggs/
I just tried 4 goose egg yolks in 4 different flavors: plain salt, 50:50 sugar and salt, Chinese 5 spice and salt, and ghost pepper flavored salt. Just started the air dry portion – so I’ll report next week on the flavor profiles.
Awesome, I’m excited to hear how it goes!
I made these for the first time. Honestly, all I can taste is salt – these are far too salty for me, it’s like finely grating salt over food. Many other recipes online use a mixture of salt and sugar so next time I might try that. The yolks looked great and I accidentally broke one raw yolk and it worked fine too.
I’m sorry that you didn’t like the taste. Let us know how the salt and sugar mixture works for you.
Absolutely horrendous article, based on personal opinion rather than citation.
Refrigerate to prevent microbe growth? They’re buried in salt….
Baking the yolks to dry them? No, it’s called flavour development….
Study more, write less
The purpose of placing them in the fridge is to make for a nice slow curing process. Although you may not see a ton of citations in the article, there is a great deal of research and testing that goes into each recipe and post. With that said, we don’t know everything and are here to learn. Feel free to share any additional knowledge that you have.
Credit to you for answering douche bag Cody with class and great recipe, thank you!
She actually said not to bake them. Read more, criticize less.
Amazing! This is actually a nice piece of writing, I have got much clarity on this topic from your piece of writing.
Thank you. So glad you enjoyed it.
Frankie the host of struggle meals did a version of this using salt and sugar with no drying time involved. It’s in his risotto recipe
Sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing this Ashley. I didn’t even know I could do this just like with meats.
I can’t wait to get mine going.
You’re very welcome. I hope you enjoy it.
I didn’t know you can do this with only the yolk. This is really cool.
I made these but somehow missed the step of putting them in the refrigerator. I’ve been making so many ferments I just was used to leaving things out I suppose. What I would like to know is if I can still use these egg yolks since they have been curing unrefrigerated for 5 days now. I don’t know if it makes a difference, but they are Amish farmed eggs. Thank you kindly for your prompt response.
I’m just now seeing your question. What did you decide to do with the eggs?
I was eager to make these when I separated eggs last week and used the whites for an oil-free granola. In my excitement, I did not reread the directions and left the dish with the salt-buried egg yolks out on the counter instead of putting in the fridge. I just now reread the article to remember the second step, air-drying. I dug the yolks out of the salt, and they look OK. Is there any problem in continuing the process from this point?
What did you end up doing with your eggs?
A sushi bar in my hood serves cured egg with ikura over sushi rice. SUPER healthy! The egg is soft and spradable but tastes sour…maybe its a cured but not dried egg? It looks like a golden drop or a giant gold fish egg. Its semi transparent like a magical orb. I will try to make my own, spreadable and grateable, but dont think it will compare to Tuna Kauhuna’s cured egg.
This is fantastic thank you! Love the air dry style too. Do you have any ideas what to do with the egg whites? I’d love to preserve them as well in some way! Thanks!
You could freeze them and then use them for egg white recipes.
Of course! Thank you!
You’re very welcome.
How long do they last unrefrigerated?
If left out, they will continue to dehydrate and will be very tough. You really want to keep them in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container once they’re fully cured.
Do they have to be stored in the fridge?
Yes, they need to be refrigerated.