Thursday, May 11, 2017

Walking on Eggshells; Fun with Spent Shells in the Garden, Kitchen, and Craft Studio

Photo by Signe Langford

By Signe Langford

The old adage is true; you do have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. But if you break the eggs carefully, there are a few fun things you can do with the shells too!

Okay, most of us gardeners already know the value of saving eggshells for the garden. They’re made of calcium – which plants need to thrive – and when crumbled up, they’ve got sharp edges that wreak havoc on those tender-bodied-but-tenacious snails and slugs. Shell shards are especially helpful all around the base of delicious hostas! Dig them into the soil around tomato plants to help stave off blossom end rot, too.

In the kitchen and craft studio, eggshells can enjoy a decorative and functional second life as mosaics, jewellery, candles, seedling pots, and even tiny serving dishes! For the last three crafts – candles, seedling pots, and dishes – the key is making a clean break. Thankfully, there’s a tool for that: it’s called an “egg topper” and there are a few on the market. I’ve only used this one from Swissmar, and I’ve found it works well, but only on cooked eggs; the shell needs the inner support of cooked white for a clean cut. Once you’ve mastered topping eggs, you’ll have some perfect specimens for playing with.

Photo by Signe Langford

Start Seedlings: Simply fill each eggshell with soil, plant the seeds, water, top up with a little more soil, and set them where you usually start seedlings – somewhere warm and sunny. Save the egg carton to hold them in, and set the egg carton on a plastic tray or pan, as they will leak. I have a couple of ceramic egg holders that look great on the windowsill!

When it’s time to transplant into the garden bed or pots, no need to take the delicate seedling out of its first home; just dig a hole big enough to accommodate the shell and all. I like to tap the bottom on a rock or something hard enough to crack the shell; that makes it easier for the roots to bust through. Tomatoes love getting started this way; that extra dose of calcium right from the get-go is just what the doctor ordered.

From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Candles: If you’ve never made candles before, you’ll want to watch a tutorial on YouTube or take a class, and you’ll need to buy a few supplies, but it’s really very simple. I made mine with pure beeswax – the aroma is wonderful, they’re the healthiest and cleanest for burning, and when it’s dead, it’s still fine to add to the garden. So, stand the eggshells up – again, use the handy-dandy egg carton – add the wick, and gently pour in the melted wax, let cool, then trim off any excess wick. That’s all there is to it!

From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Serving Dishes: Gorgeous little eggshell cups look amazing on the table filled with custard, fancy truffled scrambled eggs topped with a pinch of caviar, or even lined with chocolate and filled with mousse. Mother’s Day brunch will never be the same!

Here’s how you do it: invest in an egg topper or another sharp eggshell-cutting tool specifically designed to cleanly slice the tops off boiled eggs. As mentioned earlier, I have one from Swissmar that does the job. It works well with boiled eggs, either soft or hard, but with raw eggs, it tends to shatter the shell. once you’ve got a nice clean-cut edge, you’ll need to wash out the shell until it’s squeaky clean. Do this under just-warm, gently running water. If you use hot water, you’ll cook any remaining egg right onto the shell. As you wipe inside the shell with a finger – very carefully – look for a tear or lifted bit of the inner membrane; you’ll need to peel this out. But don’t worry, once you find a loose bit, it comes out super-easily. Once the membrane is out, give the shells one last rinse and set upside down on a cooling rack to dry thoroughly. Always prepare more eggshells than you need, in case of breakage.

Here’s my Recipe for Teeny Tiny Lemon Meringues en Coquille d’OeufThis dessert is about as sweet and adorable as a fluffy baby chick, and absolutely perfect for brunch.

About the author:

Signe Langford is a restaurant-chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes. She is a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Life, Canadian Living and Garden Making magazines. In 2105, Signe published her first book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden- with 100 Recipes
Raised in the town of Hudson, Quebec Signe grew up surrounded by an ever changing menagerie of critters, both wild and domestic, and her special affection for all feathered creatures has never flagged. At present, she shares a downtown Toronto Victorian with a tiny flock of laying hens. For more stories and recipes please visit

Photographer Donna Griffith is based in Toronto. She has taken photographs of food and drink, homes and gardens for a number of publications and books.

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  1. So many uses for eggshells I have never thought of! I have the hens working hard in the garden, I guess it's time to put the shells to use, too.

  2. Just had a hard boiled egg for lunch. The shell went in the zip lock bag for the roses, of course! I love that there's no waste at all with an egg.

  3. I also keep the egg shells for the compost. I haven't used them as a candles but it seems to be a nice idea. Oh, I also decorate them for Easter :)


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