Eggs are one of the most fantastic foods we’ve got. And, I mean, before getting into what we must know about the eggs, read this quote:
‘What other food comes packaged by nature to keep for weeks, makes a satisfying and nutritious main course in minutes, and costs pennies?’
Isn’t Harold McGee right once again?
Whilst you may have tried all kinds of ways to use the eggs, knowing what an egg actually is and how it works is just as important.
Knowing this kind of stuff has two benefits:
- It increases your knowledge. You become more mindful in the kitchen and understand what’s happening behind each move. Believe me, you’ll be so happy next time you’re making eggs for breakfast!
- You can make smarter decisions in the kitchen. Therefore, not only you’ll be no longer scared to do certain steps, but you’ll also be able to change your moves without googling them.
WAIT! I highly recommend reading Harold McGee’s book ‘Keys to good cooking.’ I personally read it and can assure you it doesn’t go too deep into science but gives you the general information to keep you up on what’s happening. #noaffiliate
4 THINGS YOU MUSK KNOW ABOUT THE EGGS
1. What is the structure of an egg?
We all can see with a naked eye the basic structure:
- egg yolk
- egg white
But do we know what these structures contain?
Egg white is colorless and viscous egg part that is 90% water and 10% protein called albumin which, depending on how strong the molecules are tangled up together, give the white its thickness.
There are three parts of egg white, and they all have different consistencies:
- Thin albumen. It is a runny outer layer and makes around 40% of the egg white. It is mostly water, and, for instance, if we are making poached eggs, it’s better to discard this part.
- Thick albumen. A cohesive inner layer that can keep itself together. As the egg ages, the thick albumen shrinks and increases the part of the thin albumen.
- Two dense cords keeping the egg yolk to the shell.
The egg yolk is a yellow liquid with a thin membrane. The yolk is made of 50% water, 20% protein, and 30% fat, emulsifiers, and pigments which provide us with color, flavor, and richness.
What we can’t see with a naked eye is that an egg has an air cell at one end of the egg. A small cell indicates a fresh egg, but we’ll talk more about it later.
2. You must know how eggs coagulate
I bet you’ve tried all egg preparation ways, but do you know what’s actually happening?
Egg white and egg yolk coagulate their proteins differently. They both even solidify at different temperatures. Egg yolk solidifies at 63°C, while egg white at 60°C.
You might say it’s a small difference. Still, suppose you ever try to master the eggs and, instead of rubbery and crumbly make them tender and creamy. In that case, you must know that temperature control is super important.
Egg white coagulation
Heat solidifies the egg white by coagulating its proteins. It makes proteins stick more and more tightly to each other and form a network throughout the fluid. The higher the temperature, the tighter proteins stick together and create hard, solid, and rubbery whites.
Egg yolk coagulation
Heat solidifies the egg yolk by coagulating its proteins. Because of less water content in the yolk, fat and protein are gathered in tiny spheres. When heated, yolk proteins stick together and make the spheres crumble apart. The higher the heat, the crumblier the mass becomes.
3. How to tell if the eggs are still fresh?
‘As soon as an egg is laid, moisture starts to evaporate from the white through the pores of the shell.’
As a result, every day an egg pulls in 4ml of air and forms an air bubble called an air cell. Expanding air bubble is a sign of egg freshness. We can’t see it with a naked eye, but we can check it with the water test.
Carefully place an egg in a bowl full of water. If an egg is floating and has such a big air bubble that it can’t even sink anymore, it’s time to throw the egg away; it’s no good to use.
Eggs that sink to the bottom but tilt or stand are still safe to eat, but you won’t make a perfect poached egg out of them. Eggs perfectly fully sink at the bottom are the freshest.
The cracking test is also a good way to check the egg’s freshness. Simply crack an egg and look at the egg white.
If an egg yolk is high and you can see lots of thick, holding its shape egg white, the egg is fresh. But if the egg white is watery, spreads out quickly, and the egg yolk lost the color and doesn’t stand high, it should be better to use it for biscuits or simply boil them.
All in all, I recommend using the water test, as it declares the freshness more accurately.
4. Know how to store the eggs
Where you store your eggs depend on where you live. For example, US advice is to keep them in the fridge (chickens aren’t routinely vaccinated against Salmonella). In contrast, European advice (Salmonella rates are lower here) is to keep the eggs in a cool cupboard.
I prefer keeping them in a refrigerator because, still, there is a reason why food that easily spoils is kept at cooler temperatures. I encourage you to do the same.
Only if you do so, don’t place the eggs in the fridge door. Constantly opening and closing the doors shakes the eggs, which thin the egg whites quicker.