Helen's Tips & Techniques

Are Cracked Eggs Safe to Use?

Sometimes you may find that an egg cracks on the way home from shopping or gets knocked in the fridge.  If you spot this immediately then break the egg into a clean container, seal and refrigerate with two days.  If an egg has been left to sit while cracked then it should be discarded.

Size of Egg for Baking?

Unless stated otherwise you should assume that recipes have been written with a size 7 egg in mind.

Egg Rings

Egg rings are useful for frying perfectly round eggs.  To make your own egg ring take the top and base off a small food can with a can opener, a 210g tuna or salmon tin is perfect. Remove the label and wash the can thoroughly.

Beating Egg Whites

While it may be tempting to knock the beaters on the edge of the bowl after beating the white, this banging can cause the egg whites to lose volume.

Meringues and the Weather

Humidity can play havoc with meringues.  The moisture in the air can prevent the mixture from forming firm strong peaks.  Once the meringues are cooked humidity can cause them to weep or soften.

Making Meringues

When beating egg whites to make meringues make sure you use a very clean bowl, any grease will prevent egg whites expanding to their full potential.
C
opper, glass or metal are best, plastic is not recommended as it is harder to ensure that it has no grease particles clinging to the sides.
Likewise it is important that no egg yolk makes it into the bowl, if in doubt then use the egg for something else and start again.

How to Boil Eggs

The time it takes to boil and egg is very much a personal preference.
To start with bring a saucepan of water to the boil (enough water to cover eggs).
For an egg with runny yolk (but set white), cook for 5 minutes.
For fudgy eggs where the yolk is still slightly soft but not runny cook for 7 minutes.
For classic boiled eggs with a set yolk but not dry, cook for 9 minutes.

Brushing Pastry with Egg

To give colour and sheen to pies and other pastries brush with an egg wash before cooking.  This can be done by lightly whisking either an egg yolk, whole egg or egg mixed with a little water.
Protein browns when exposed to high heat and fat gives a sheen, therefore using the concentrated egg yolk will give a higher sheen whereas the whole egg will give good colour and also sheen.  Diluting it with a little water makes the egg wash easier to apply.

How Long Can I Keep a Boiled Egg?

Boiled eggs that are kept within their shell and in a sealed container in the refrigerator will last for 1 week.

Boiled Eggs

The fresher the egg the harder it can be to peel so make sure when choosing which eggs to boil you select the eggs that you have had the longest (within reason of course).

Poaching Eggs

Adding a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to the water prior to poaching eggs will undoubtedly help the whites to set quickly, however it can also make the whites too firm so make sure you only add a small amount.

Freezing Egg Yolks

Egg yolks can be frozen but need a little TLC to prevent them from becoming overly thick and gelatinous.
Whisk 1/8 teaspoon of salt per 1/4 cup egg yolk prior to freezing for yolks destined for savoury cooking.
Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar per 4 yolks for eggs destined for sweet recipes.
It takes about 4 egg yolks to measure 1/4 cup.

Freezing Egg Whites

Freezing egg whites is simple. Just pour single egg whites into an ice cube tray, freeze and then pop these out and transfer to a sealed container.

How to remove fragments of eggshell from an egg

Every so often you will find a tiny piece of shell breaks into your egg (a good reason to break eggs into a cup before using them), if this happens the best thing to use to remove the fragment is one of the egg shell halves. Simply scoop the shell up with this and allow the egg white to run off.

Separating Eggs

While many of us separate eggs using the halved shells and transferring the yolk from one half to another, allowing the white to run off, sharp edges of shell can pierce the yolk and allow tiny particles to immerse with the whites (fatal for meringues). If you want to separate the eggs perfectly then using your hands may be the best option. Allowing the white to run off through you fingers while the yolk nestles in the palm of your hand.

How to Test for Egg Freshness

Got some eggs that are past their use by date or perhaps mixed up in their carton? To test for suitability for eating, immerse the egg in a bowl of cold water. If the egg lies on its side it is still fine to eat. If it stands upright then it should be used asap. If the egg floats then it needs to be discarded.