The Mighty Egg

Egg Measurements: Volume & Weight

Whole Eggs
3 whole eggs = 1/2 cup
1 whole egg = 3 tablespoons
1/2 whole egg = 4 teaspoons
Whole eggs are 74% water, 13% protein and 11% fat
One egg contains about 6 to 7 grams of protein.

Yolks
6 to 7 egg yolks = 1/2 cup
1 egg yolk = 1 tablespoon
Egg yolks are 48% water, 17% protein, and 33% fat

Whites
4 to 5 egg whites = 1/2 cup
8 to 10 Large Egg Whites = 1 cup.
1 egg white = 2 tablespoons
1 egg white is about 30g
Egg whites are 88% water, 11% protein and zero fat.

Whipped Egg Whites: 9 whipped egg whites (1 cup) will result in about 7 cups of meringue. (the volume of egg whites increase 6 to 8 times) A sign of over whipped egg whites is appear dry and lumpy; liquid separates out; hard to blend with other ingredients

Cooking Eggs: Key Temperatures

145°F / 63°C –Egg whites begin to thicken 
150°F / 65°C– Egg whites become a tender solid.
158°F / 70°C– Egg yolks set.
165°F / 73°C– Whole egg sets.

A number of variables influence the rate of coagulation, such as sugar and PH.

Salmonella is killed instantly when at a temperature of 165° F.

Custards, crème brûlée, flan and quiche should be cooked to an internal temperature of 175-180°F (sugar increases the coagulation temperature to about 180°F). The more diluted the egg mixture, the higher the setting temperature will be. Use an instant read thermometer. Do not bake custards, with or without sugar, to a temperature above 185°F. This means the custard should be taken out of the oven at 180°F because it will continue to cook a little even after being removed from the oven. 

Hard Boiled Eggs

Lower your eggs, straight from the fridge, into boiling water. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the eggs for 12 minutes for hard boiled or six minutes for soft boiled. When eggs are almost finished cooking, combine 2 cups ice cubes and 2 cups cold water in medium bowl. Using tongs or spoon, transfer eggs directly to an ice bath; let sit for 15 minutes before using. Peel under cool running water.

Starting the eggs in hot, rather than cold, water causes the proteins in the egg whites to seize and bond together, preventing them from sticking to the shell. Making it easy to peal with out shells sticking to the egg.

(Note: Older eggs are easier to peel than fresh eggs. If you are planning to make hard boiled eggs in advance for the holidays. Buy your eggs at least a week or two weeks before).

Scrabbled Eggs & Omlettes

Scrabbled eggs and omlettes should be cooked slowly, over medium-low heat. The pan should about 250-300°F. Remember, when eggs get above 185°F they could turn into a more rubbery texture driving out all the moisture and air, so take your time.

Poached Eggs

Use fresh eggs. Break the eggs into a wire-mesh strainer. Let stand until the loose, watery part of the egg white drains away from the egg, about 20 seconds. Next, put the eggs into individual ramekins. If you crack an egg above the water, it’s going to fall haphazardly into the water and be misshapen. If you put the eggs into individual ramekin, you can lower the whole ramekin into the hot water and slowly tip the egg out, which increases the chance of having a uniform aesthetically pleasing poached egg. The water should be just below boiling, (about 70–80 °C (158–176 °F)) Adding 1 tsp. of white vinegar for every 2 quarts of water changes the pH from about 6.8 to 3.8 This more acidic environment combined with simmering water, rapidly cooks (denatures) the egg whites, creating a “shell” that encases the egg while cooking. This prevents the egg from falling apart and the result is a perfectly poached egg. Poach your eggs between 3 to 6 minutes depending on your liking. Remove from the simmering water with a slotted spoon.

Various Ways Eggs are Used in Cooking

Coagulation / Thickening

Coagulation is a change from a fluid to a solid or semisolid. This is one of the egg’s most important functional benefits in cooking, it allows eggs to bind foods together and thicken things such as custards, omelets and puddings, as well as positively benefit the crumb and structure of baked goods.

Starch is often added to custard to slow the process of coagulation to help prevent overcooking the mixture.

Coagulating eggs can be achieved by several different means, including heating (protein denaturation), mechanical beating, and adding sugar (raises the temperature for coagulation: cook custards, flan, and quiche to 175F.)

 

Egg Wash

Slightly beaten egg products, such as egg whites or egg yolks, supply coating, gloss or finishing to foods. When whites alone are used as an egg wash the proteins coagulate and draw moisture from the product, and eventually evaporating some of the water, resulting in a crisp surface.  An egg wash is common for bread, pies and  pastries to assist in browning and create a glossy appearance.

 

Emulsification

An emulsion, is stabilizing a mixture of oil and water. Egg white emulsifies due to its protein. Egg yolk assist in emulsification due  its lecithin content.

In addition, the smaller the droplet and more uniform in size, the better the emulsion and the better the mouthfeel and texture of the finished product.  For example, oil must be added slowly to water so that the lecithin within the egg yolk can thoroughly coat the small droplets. 

 

Leavening

Leavening is basically the production or incorporation of gases in a baked product to increase volume and to produce shape and texture. Without the air or steam baked goods essentially would all be flat. It’s the steam in bread and soufflés that cause the leavening.

Eggs can contribute to this process of leavening in two ways:
1. Eggs contribute liquid – they are mostly water, which then converts to steam as bread/soufflé is heated.
2. Egg whites when whipped aerate a product, or helps create tiny air pockets that are eventually filled by steam. As the liquids within the baked good turn to steam or form gases with heat, the steam pushes out the walls of the air cells and expand them.

Meringue

The volume of egg whites increase 6 to 8 times.

The larger the quantity of sugar, the denser and more stable the meringue will be. Plus, a higher sugar content makes the meringue harder to over beat and become dry. Since eggs whites contain 90% water and only 10% protein, sugar binds with water and holds it in place. Added sugar dissolves into the water molecules in the egg white and this actually increases both the strength and elasticity of the whole mix, and helps support the proteins from stretching too far and collapsing. This, in turn, allows a little more air to be whipped in, making the egg whites even fluffier. If you decide to bake the meringue, a higher sugar content makes for crispier meringue. A lower sugar content, on the other hand, makes the meringue lighter, fluffier, and easier to incorporate into batters.

*** Sugar needs to be added after the denaturing process has started –  never, never add sugar before you start whipping. Let it at least get to the frothy stage.***

PH meringue stability
Egg whites are one of the few foods that are naturally alkaline, with an initial pH value that can be as low as 7.6, but alkalinity of egg whites increases as the egg ages, and can reach pH of 9.2. Egg white proteins create more stable foams at a pH that is near 7.0 and are less ability to maintain a foam as they rise to 9.0. In order to help stabilize egg white foam, it is common to add cream of tartar, which lowers the pH of the egg white.

Adding an acid like lemon juice, cream of tarter, or vinegar raises pH, helping to denature some of the egg protein. Whipping takes slightly longer, but the acid gives the foam more flexibility, making it less likely to collapse when you get to folding, piping, and baking—basically an acid is your stability insurance. About ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar or ½ teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.

Four things that can help a meringue

  1. Using fresh eggs

It’s best to use only the freshest eggs that you have for meringues. Fresh egg albumen has a high acidity level, and this level drops sharply as the egg ages. In older eggs the chemical bonds in the proteins have loosened,  the bonds won’t be as strong. 

 

  1. Adding white wine vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tartar

 It increases the acidity level of the mix, simulating the same effect as using the freshest eggs. 

 

  1. Use a clean bowl and whisk. (No grease or oil)

 

Four things that hinder stability of whipped egg whites 

  1. Fat: Any fat present will make the process more difficult. 

 

  1. Dirty utensils: (beaters, whisks, spatulas etc)

 

  1. Egg yolk: Because egg yolks have a high fat content.

 

  1. Eggs from the fridge

It’s best to have room temperature eggs for making meringue.

Michael holding plate of pesto crab cakes

Hello, I'm Michael!

I aspire to share recipes that you and your family can enjoy while also learning about cooking fundamentals along the way. I attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, CA and now enjoy cooking as a hobby. 

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