Basic techniques: How to separate an egg
by Lovefood Team | 23 September 2012 | 3 commentsTweet
With the shell, through your hands, using a plate. what is the best way to separate an egg? We've trawled through the internet for you to find out.
Everyone agrees… an egg will only separate properly if it’s fresh, and preferably cold. The protective membrane that encloses the yolk weakens with age and breaks more easily, which can cause problems because if even one speck of fat (ie the yolk) gets into the white, you won’t be able to whisk peaks.
What not to do
Don’t separate an egg by cracking it into your hands, and letting the egg white dribble into a bowl underneath. Any speck of grease on your fingers (and if you’re cooking, there’s bound to be some) will infect the egg, making it difficult to whisk into peaks.
The Delia way
Both BBC Food and Good Housekeeping agree with the Delia method of separating eggs – that is, to use the shell itself.
- Hold the egg over one bowl and have another bowl beside it. Crack the egg on the side of the bowl, round about its centre then, using both hands, break it into two halves, one in each hand.
- Now slip the yolk back and forth from one half-shell to the other, tilting it as you do so and letting the white trickle down into the bowl while you hang on to the yolk.
- When there is no white left in the shells, pop the yolk into the other bowl.
Here's a fantastic video from Good Housekeeping, if you need more help.
If you don’t like that…
Instead, you could try breaking the egg onto a plate, and trapping the yolk under a glass. Carefully drain off the whites, lifting the glass slightly as you do so.
Or use a needle to pierce the egg and run the whites out, leaving the yolk inside. And if you can be bothered with buying fancy equipment, break the egg into a funnel, capturing the yolk at the top.
Also, if you really fancy a challenge, try the suck-it-up-with-a-plastic-bottle trick, as Graci in the Kitchen beautifully demonstrates (although in reality, it might end up like this).
Whisking your whites
A few key tips:
- There shouldn’t be any trace of grease on your whisks, or in the bowl, when whisking egg whites (run a slice of lemon around them both to get rid of any traces)
- Use a very large bowl to ensure that as much air as possible can circulate around the egg whites as you whisk
- Stop whisking when the egg white stands up in well-defined peaks.
Here’s a handy video from Epicurious about how to whip egg whites, and the difference between soft and stiff peaks.
Cover your egg yolks with cold water, so they don’t dry out. That way, they’ll last up to two days in the fridge!
Tell us your tips
Which method do you prefer? Have you got any other tips to share? Let us know in the Comments section below.