Decide how many egg yolks you want to cure. Make a 50/50 mix of fine salt and sugar, enough to surround the egg yolks in your chosen container. Separate the yolks from the whites, making the yolks as clean as possible without breaking them. You will have to discard any that do break, so be careful. Place the yolks on a layer of salt and sugar mix, cover with some more, and put the container in the fridge. Some people advise covering, others don’t. Since a core part of the process is drying I don’t think it matters – but if you are at all worried about contamination from anything else in your fridge, cover them.
yolks have already started to firm up! They look a richer orange, and are holding a definite shape. It is easy to touch them without fear of breaking them, so I can gently ruffle up the now damp -even wet – salt/sugar and turn them over. I decide to add some more salt/sugar to give the yolks a more complete covering. Then back into the fridge they go.
The drying continues relative to the original size of the yolk, so it is easy to see which is the duck as it is visibly larger. The effect I saw yesterday also seems consistent: the surface facing down into the cure retains the lovely curve of the fresh yolk (picture right), while the top (facing up) flattens over the course of 24 hours (picture left). I turn them again, hoping to influence the final shape through daily flipping, re-bury them, and pop them back in the fridge
Yesterday’s shaping theory has been proved wrong: today the yolks are exactly the same shape as yesterday. At least this means that for now, there is still one curved side. They are stiffer than they were yesterday, so it seems as though there is a good chance that they will retain this shape. I think I’ll leave them alone for a few days at a stretch, now, and see how they look next week.
I’ve turned them once again and re-buried them for their final few days in the cure.
When I take the yolks out and brush them off I can still see a little bit of stickiness in the very middle. So, although I’d originally thought of taking them out of the salt and sugar today, I reckon a little more time won’t do them any harm. In fact, one last weekend in their briny bed might do them some good. I’ll rescue them in a few days’ time.
The yolks have entered their final phase – out of the cure and into the muslin. I don’t have one of those cheffy meat cupboards (shocking omission, to be remedied in my next kitchen) so they are now hanging at the back of the fridge. This is probably a little colder than the ideal, but I’m sure they will dry out nicely. They look so good hanging there it’s going to be very hard to keep my hands off them for the minimum of two weeks they seem to need…
They are ready. They tear apart with some effort, and grate easily into golden curls that are delicious sprinkled on salad or used in larger quantities on pasta (think of it as a drier way of approaching carbonara – or up the cream). I have to say after this long wait that I think the end result of 50/50 salt/sugar makes something too sweet. You might prefer it that way, and some like to use more sugar, but if you are after something super-savoury (like me) I’d go for 100% salt, or 75/25. But do make some. You won’t regret finding this new staple – it might take a bit of time, but almost no effort, and the result is a gastronomic treat.