EGG CURING

Preparing eggs for the curing process

Being able to have eggs cured yourself can really make the difference between a limit before noon and no fish all day. While some store purchased eggs are of higher quality than others, there is nothing that compares to eggs that were perfectly handled, prepared, cured and fished.

Keeping your eggs clean is the most important step in curing your own eggs. From the time you remove them from the fish to the time you put them on your hook, you want to treat them as gold.

When you’re cleaning your fish, avoid water sweeping into your open fish until you remove the eggs (with clean hands) and immediately store them in a clean container such as a Ziploc. The eggs are porous and as we go over curing, you’ll learn that they absorb other liquids so keeping water away from them is important. Keep the eggs on ice or in your refrigerator until you are ready to begin the curing process but cure them as soon as possible. After about 24 hours, you will notice a rotten egg smell to them.

Once you’re ready to cure the eggs, you’ll need the following:

  • Clean surface
  • Paper towels
  • Gloves (latex free) – You want to avoid latex gloves not only for the smell, but because they often have a power coating that you do not want on your eggs.
  • Scissors
  • Ziploc bags
  • Cure/borax ingredients

Begin by removing any excess blood in the veins of the eggs. When you initially kill your fish, you want to cut the gills and bleed out the fish as much as possible. Not only does this make for better meat, it makes for cleaner eggs! You’ll see below that the skein has quite a bit of blood in the veins and that there are several smaller veins that feed into one main horizontal vein. It’s difficult to tell, but you can also see that they flow in the same direction (to the left).

Preparing Eggs for Curing

You want to push the blood through the veins using a clean utensil with a flat edge. Some use the side of their scissors but I prefer something with a rounder edge like a spoon. Push in the direction that the blood once flowed (to the left in this skein) until you get to the end of the skein and it comes out through the open end. If the end of the vein is not open, you may have to snip it open. You will need to dab a paper towel at the end of the skein where the blood will exit the veins so it is not left in the egg skein as well as any excess blood that has leaked through weak spots along the vein or on your spoon.

 

Continue until as much blood as possible is removed from the skein and carefully blot a paper towel on the skein side of the egg to remove any excess moisture or blood. Your final skein should look something like this.

You can see how the skein acts almost as a taco shell and holds the actual eggs intact and inside the skein. Holding the skein in your hands, you want to “butterfly” them so they lay flat and open rather than folded up like a taco. This will make it easier to distribute the egg cure as well as make for a better bait when put it on a hook and do not have skein on all outside edges.  Slowly and carefully cut the “taco” skein open down the middle until it lays flat. Be very careful not to cut too deep but just enough to lay them flat.

 

You are now prepared to start adding the cure to your eggs!

Curing your Eggs 

After you have bled, dried, and butterflied your eggs, you can begin applying the egg cure and completing the process. You’ll want to continue to work with a clean surface, clean utensils, and wear gloves.

 

You can see that the eggs are attached to a skein which creates flaps and layers of eggs.

 

Slowly and carefully sprinkle the powdered cure on the egg side up. I roll the egg skein along my fingers so that I can easily add the powder to the inside of the folds and layers of eggs. You only need a thin layer as it will quickly begin to liquefy. Add an even thinner layer of cure to the skein side and gently rub/pat to ensure the cure stays on the skein.

 

Once you have applied cure to the entire skein, front and back, put them in a large Ziploc bag. You’ll see how it quickly begins to liquefy. This is perfect and the eggs will begin to absorb the liquid and plump up over the next 24 hours. Keep the eggs cold (in the refrigerator) roll the bag around to mix the cure and the eggs several times within that 24 hours.

 

Once the eggs have absorbed most of the liquid and have plumped up, you can remove them from the bag and lay them out to dry.

 

You will lay them skein side UP and egg side DOWN. Lay out several layers (3-5 depending on how wet your eggs are) of paper towels. The time you leave them out is completely dependent on how wet your eggs were. The more cure you add, the more liquid that will be created and the more excess liquid you will have to dry out. You want to lay them egg side down so that the liquid drips out of the open side of the egg and onto the paper towel. If you lay the eggs skein side down, the excess liquid will not drain properly and will accumulate on the skein and take much longer to dry. The drying process is one of the most important steps because ultimately, it indicates the durability of your eggs and how many casts you will get out of each bait.

 

I typically dry my eggs for about 14 hours, but again, it depends on how wet they are. You want them to be tacky and the skein to be sticky. However, when you touch the skein with your CLEAN bare finger, it should stick a bit, but no liquid should be on your finger. Kind of like using a toothpick to see if a cake is done! There should be no residue on your finger. Be very careful to monitor this closely as eggs that are too dry can almost be worse than eggs that are too wet. Eggs that were dried for too long become hard and solid rather than tacky like dough.

Once you determine your eggs are dry, a great place to store them is in Mason jars. You can freeze your eggs for months and even over a year if stored properly. Be careful not to completely fill the jar as the eggs will expand a bit when they freeze as does all liquid. Write on the lid of the jar what type of cure you used and even what type of fish the eggs came from and the date. Documenting is important when fishing because you learn which fish have plumper eggs or smaller skeins or looser eggs etc.

 

~ Bry