Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eggs: Insider Tips

Eggs are such an important part of the kitchen and our daily lives.  So many things rely on eggs like, cakes, pasta, breads, sauces, etc.  Italian food would not be the same if it were not for this versatile food.  Now, in the past, we posted on the white eggs and brown eggs, and how to determine the Julian code on egg cartons.  Well today, we decided to share some important tips about eggs.  Some may be common knowledge, but some may be quite helpful when shopping and cooking.

  • Fresh eggs will have a rough, chalky texture to the outside of the shell; the older the eggs, the smoother the shell will feel.
  • To determine the freshness of an egg, place it into a glass of water.  If it lies down horizontally it is only a day or two old; if it sits at a 45 degree angle, it is between a week and 10 days old, and if it stands up vertically it is considerably older than that.
  • If you shake an egg and you can feel defined movement inside, then it is old.  Because the moisture content of eggs diminishes over time, the contents shrink and the air pocket at the rounded ends expands.
  • When cracked and put in a pan, a fresh egg's yolk will stand up almost spherically and the proportionof thick white to thin white will be much greater.  The older it is, the more it will spread across the pan's surface.
  • If you are separating egg yolks and whites, use fresh eggs because the membrane surrounding the yolk disintegrates with age and is far more likely to spill yolk into the white.  If eggs are old, chill them before separating as the lower temperature will toughen the yolk's membrane.
  • Slightly older eggs are better for hard boiling - it is often difficult to remove shells from very fresh hard-boiled eggs.
  • Once you have taken hard boiled eggs off the stove, place the saucepan under a running tap until the water is cold.  This stops the eggs from cookingin their own heat and prevents a grayish green ring from appearing around the yolks.
  • Very fresh eggs take longer to boil, so add 30 seconds to the time you would usually cook for them.
  • For total accuracy, many chefs use eggs by weight in recipes.  As a rule of thumb, the contents of a large egg weigh around 1.6 ounces and a medium egg about 1 ounce.  About two-thirds of an egg's weight is white, the remaining third is yolk.
  • Eggshells are porous. Storing eggs near anything with a strong aroma can taint their taste.  Leave them in their cartons, the paper-maché will absorb anything.
  • Eggs will keep for several weeks in a cool room and be less susceptible to corrupting odors than in the fridge.
  • When cooked, the whites of eggs straight from the fridge will toughen far more than they would if they had been at room temperature.  Remove them from the fridge an hour before cooking.
  • When boiled, eggs straight from the fridge are likely to crack on contact with water.  Use a small pan, leaving less scope for bumping about and cracking.  A spoonful of vinegar in the water helps protect shells and stops the white leaking out if it does crack.
  • When thickening a hot liquid with eggs or egg yolks, add the liquid to the eggs in a bowl away from the stove to avoid separation or curdling.  If you do have to add eggs to something being heated, do not stir raw eggs in to boiling liquid as the egg will cook and harden before you can whisk it in.  Let it cool slightly (to below 150 degrees F, as that's the temperature at which eggs coagulate) first.
  • If you have leftover egg whites, it's fine to freeze them.
  • A pinch of cream of tartar, added before you start whisking, will give egg whites an extra lift, and greater frothiness.
  • Egg whites have to be free from any corrupting substances if they are to be beaten to stiffness.  Whisks and bowls should be clean and grease free, and any specks of yolk should be removed - either scooped out with the egg's shell or dabbed up with a dampened, clean cloth.
  • Never beat egg whites in an aluminum bowl; it will turn them grey.
  • Do not cook, fry, or scramble eggs on a very high heat, as fast cooking causes egg whites to toughen.
  • For perfect scrambled eggs, always undercook them.  It doesn't matter that they look far too runnt in the pan - they will continue cooking in their own heat as you serve them.
  • If scrambling eggs in a microwave, when you remove them and beat them during the process, always allow the bowl to stand for 30 seconds or so before continuing to cook.  This will let the eggs cook in their own heat before you return them to the microwave and means you can more accurately judge the minimum time required for cooking, thus producing the fluffiest scambled eggs.
source: Book of Secrets


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