Easy recipe for how to make salt cured egg yolks at home. Use them instead of cheese (they're dairy-free) to add some umami flavor to salads and many other dishes.
What are salt cured egg yolks?
Salt cured egg yolks are exactly what their name suggests. They are fresh egg yolks that have been stored in a salt and sugar mixture for some time until they solidify and become almost like a thick jell. After that, we can dehydrate them even more until they reach a consistency that enables us to grate them like we do with hard cheese.
Salt cured egg yolks are full of umami flavor and they also remind the flavor cheese (sort of, anyway), so they can also be used as a dairy-free cheese substitute in salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and risottos.
Don’t know what to do with the leftover egg whites? They can be stored in the freezer for a long time. Thaw them in the refrigerator from the night before using them, and bring them to room temperature before you add them to your recipes. If you’re craving cake, you should make this double white chocolate and vanilla bundt cake which is made with egg whites only, and if you're a cookie person you should definitely try these Italian almond cookies (soft amaretti).
How to make salt cured egg yolks
If you're a visual type, there's also a video at the end of this post. The procedure is easy:
- You’ll make small indentations to the surface of the salt mixture and you’ll place one yolk in each one.
- Cover with more salt mixture and refrigerate for about a week. Most recipes use a mixture of salt and sugar, probably because sugar intensifies the taste but also for the yolks not to become too salty (though they will be salty enough!).
- After about a week, the yolks are hard enough so you can remove them from the salt and dehydrate them even further in the oven or by hanging them in a dry corner of your home.
- If you want to be a little naughty, you can add some herbs and spices to the salt which will flavor the yolks. Lemon zest, dried onion or dried garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, tarragon, thyme, vanilla and cardamom are probably good options.
Note: I've seen recipes where the yolk is used after leaving it out to dry (or after dehydrating it in a dehydrator). However, I haven't been able to verify that all the pathogens - like salmonella - are dead. The common sense says that they're probably dead (because curing foods in salt is one of the oldest ways of preserving them) but still, I haven't been able to verify it. That's why I choose to bake them in the oven as an extra level of protection which unfortunately takes away some of the flavor the unbaked yolks have.
Where to use salt cured egg yolks
Because they are salty, these yolks are usually grated (like cheese) or cut into very thin slices and added to salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and risottos. The next recipe will be a risotto “carbonara” with salt cured egg yolks. I think it’s worth trying it.
How long do salt cured egg yolks last?
If they’re stored in a well-sealed airtight container, they can be kept in the fridge for up to a month or even more. If you have any doubts about whether they’re still good or not, check for any discoloration or weird smell and if something doesn’t feel right then it’s best to discard them.
Can I re-use the salt mixture for a second time?
Don’t use the sugar-salt mixture for any other purpose. You can re-use it for curing yolks, as long as you remove all the moisture. If you use only salt (this will make the yolks very salty) then you can bake it in the oven until it is completely dry.
If you use a mixture of salt and sugar, then it is best to dehydrate it in the oven using the oven fan and at a very low temperature (50°C / 122°F) because the sugar can melt and turn into caramel.
Would I make them again?
Probably not. Please don’t get me wrong… The whole procedure was very fun and interesting plus those vibrant orange solid yolks can enthuse your guests at the dinner table.
But the next time I’ll want to add something to my salad, I think I’ll prefer some shreds of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I have to say though, that for people who can’t have dairy, these cured yolks are probably the next best thing.
How to make salt cured egg yolks
- 2 ½ cups fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 ½ cup white sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- Transfer the salt and the sugar to a bowl and mix well. Transfer approximately the two thirds of this mixture to a container large enough to fit 4 eggs. Using an egg make 4 indentations to the surface of the salt mixture.
- Break the eggs and transfer one yolk to each indentation. Cover the yolks with the remaining salt mixture. Cover the container with the lid and store in the fridge for 7 days.
- Preheat your oven to 175 F (80 C). Carefully take the yolks out off the salt, rinse with water and dry with kitchen paper. Place them on a pan lined with baking paper and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, until the yolks are dry to the touch and firm.
- These yolks are salty. For less salty yolks I'd suggest using a mixture with 2 cups salt and 2 cups sugar.
- After curing, you can let the yolks dry and use them without baking them (they will have a fresher taste). HOWEVER I haven't been able to verify from a scientific source that all the pathogens like salmonella will be dead after curing. If you want to try them this way you should advise with a doctor first.
- Arugula, goat cheese and green apple salad
- Chicken sandwich with balsamic & olive oil dressing
- Risotto "Carbonara"
- Quick pickled onions
- Roasted chickpeas (3 savory and 1 sweet flavors)
- Healthy Mediterranean potato salad with boiled eggs (Nicoise).
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