The egg is one of the most versatile ingredients in a home kitchen. It adds structure to pastries and helps moisten cakes, and it emulsifies sauces and dressings. Its whites are a good source of protein, and the yolks bring fat and flavour.

Now, a Victorian couple has taken the egg up a notch, inadvertently extending its shelf life in the process.

When The Smoked Egg Company founder Julie Kos first put raw eggs in her home smoker, she wasn’t looking to create a new product. She just wanted to see what would happen.

“I said to [husband and co-founder] Paul, ‘I’ve cracked this egg open for a quiche, I want to see if it can take on flavour,’ and he just said, ‘But I hate quiche,’” Kos tells Broadsheet. Despite his objections, the egg went into the smoker anyway.

“That night as we were eating it, he goes, ‘Oh my god, this is beautiful,’” Kos says. “At that point I realised maybe we had something.”

It took the couple two and a half years to perfect the cold-smoking method they’ve now patented. Instead of cracked eggs, they now smoke eggs still in the shell, at temperatures between 1º and 4º.

“We use really fresh eggs – the day we receive them, they’re in the smoker within a few hours,” Kos says. “The smoking takes that really eggy taste away, but you still get the beautiful creaminess of the eggs. It’s like having eggs and bacon, but without the bacon.”

And eventually Kos noticed that unlike regular raw eggs, the whites of the smoked eggs weren’t becoming runnier, even after weeks in the pantry (fresh eggs have thicker whites; this changes as the egg gets older).

The couple had lab tests done, and were able to determine that the smoked eggs have a shelf life of 120 days. Tests showed little to no bacteria present even after 35 weeks (the same tests on a normal egg showed up to 21 million bacteria after 18 weeks).

While they have their own egg farm, Kossies Free Range Eggs, Julie and Paul don’t smoke their own eggs because they only produce a small amount. Instead they source Victorian free-range eggs from producers such as Kinross Farms and Casaccio Egg Farm and smoke them with Australian ashwood.

Aside from quiche, Julie uses the smoked eggs in meringues, cakes, pavlovas, lemon curd, pastas, souffles and mayonnaise. Smoking doesn’t change the eggs’ structure, so Julie says they can be used in any recipe that calls for the regular kind.

Chefs have experimented with the product too, with the Kos’s smoked eggs making appearances on menus at Byrdi, 400 Gradi and Ascot Food + Wine in Melbourne, as well as Pizza Madre in Sydney.

The Smoked Egg Company is stocked at IGA Supermarkets across Australia.