Frozen Eggs, How Long Will They Last? Pics
Ever wonder how long your fresh cured eggs are going to last in the freezer? Good question, one that will mainly depend on the type of cure and curing process used. I personaly have been curing eggs for about 18 years now. I store alot of roe and have always believed they can last 3 or 4 years with little to no trouble and still catch fish. While this statement may indeed be true in some way, I am discovering that there is a great deal of breakdown after the 2nd year mark in the freezer. In examining some of my older jars from the "back" of the freezer, at my friends house....I found jars and containers I had put up between 2004 and 2008 that would be perfect to examine. These older eggs I had put up in Pro-Cure, Amermans and a home made borax cure I use for steelhead once every few years. I also had fresh cured eggs I could use to compare. That gives us a span of 5 years overall. I already know that eggs that are a year old will thaw and fish perfectly with a clean transparent look. The batch of borax eggs I pulled had been put up Oct or Dec of 2006. I pack all of my jars tight to the top to leave little to no air. All of the jars shown here are no longer frozen and have been flipped over for several days before photographing or opening for examination.
At first glance our 2006 and 2004 [right] Pro-Cure looks to almost be fishable and has a bright color that has no visable signs of color fade. Now if we place a jar of eggs cured just this week we can see what a difference there is in the breakdown. You get a sense that the very smell of freezer burn, if there is one is deeply inbeded into these older eggs. They have just somehow lost their mojo!
The older jars also seem to have more juice in them. This is because all of the years of freezer ice built up in every pocket of the jar gets into the roe after you thaw the jar and flip it. I know from experience that eggs held for 1 or 2 years will last and fish very nice but it looks as if 3 years and longer is just to long, for more than one reason.
Amerman's brand soup 2007, I bet Scott would love this photo. These eggs I did not dry well and have alot of post cure juice in them still. It would seem that these eggs would be messy but the funny thing is that all the juice in the jar helps to prevent freezer burn. Have you ever heard of people freezing there fish fillets in pure water? Same effect here, no air gaps to spoil. Upon opening this jar I discover that the very top layer, which was discarded, had a very bad case of freezer burn but the rest of the bait was unscathed. In this case these eggs may be useable after a short dry out or perhaps a dip in borax and finaly off to a scent bath of some type.
Here is a full comparison of baits from the 3 jars, taken from the middle section of each jar.......where freezer burn damage is the least. The bait in the upper right hand corner is our bait from last week we just cured. What we see going back farther with each year is an increase in air bubbles inside each egg and we see them become less and less transparent. This alone would not hurt the eggs since fish will eat a scented corky and yarn, that is not transparent either but there are still other reasons why I would avoid fishing these eggs now. Scent and stability are going to be our 2 most important concerns at this stage in the baits life. The aging process will not effect the baits ability to "milk" out either. The real question is do we know what the fish are smelling in the 3 year old milk trail and is it favorable to them or not.
Here is the borax egg from late 2006, right around the 3 year mark. A year ago I fished this egg and it was dry but still usable at that point. I knew I needed to go through these by now since they had begun to fade last winter. At first glance we see a decent pre-colored borax egg that we assumed was safe from freezer burn since packed tightly in borax and plastic freezer containers. After dipping the eggs in water its true opaque nature can be seen, yuk! No way I want to throw this now.... It's odor unpleasant like dried out freezer burned fish skin!
My overall findings are that most eggs and their cure will hold well for up to 2 years. They can be salvaged or fished in some cases beyond that if processed perfectly and stored well but your better off keeping a 1 or 2 year cycle at most. Fish your very best egg by the end of the next season and only hold your backup jars any longer, or you can do what I do, hand them off to a friend in need.
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