How to Separate an Egg the Old-fashioned Way
Sometimes a recipe calls for just the egg yolk or just the egg white, or for each part to be treated differently and/or added at different times. To achieve this, you first need to separate the egg.
Bear in mind that it’s fine to have some white in with the egg yolk, but the whites are more tricky, especially if you need to beat them. The bowl for the whites (and the beater) needs to be super-clean and dry, and if you have even a speck of egg yolk in there, they won’t beat into the nice fluffy texture you’re wanting.
So if you’re using more than one egg, the safest way is to have three bowls in front of you – one for the final separated egg whites, one for the final yolks and one for the egg you are separating right now.
- Gently crack your egg about half-way up the shell on the side of a bowl or with the blade of a knife.
- Using your fingers to separate the two halves of the shell, carefully shift the yolk into one of the halves, letting the white spill over into your ‘using right now’ bowl.
- Then carefully pour the yolk back into the other half of the shell, in the process attempting to get more of the white into your ‘using right now’ bowl.
- Once you’ve got most of the white out the shell, pour the yolk into the final yolks bowl and transfer the white from the ‘using right now’ bowl to the final whites bowl.
- Then start with the next egg.
If the yolk breaks:
- Check if any got into the whites.
- If not, put the broken yolk and whatever white is left in the shell in with the yolks (do not attempt to separate out any more white from it), and transfer whatever white you managed to get before the yolk broke into the whites bowl.
- If some of the broken yolk got into the white, put everything in your ‘using right now’ bowl into a different container and use it for scrambled egg or something some other time.
- Then get a new, clean and dry ‘using right now’ bowl and try again with another egg.
Why bother with a ‘using right now’ bowl at all?
Well if you’re cracking eggs over the final whites bowl, and you’ve separated 4 eggs and on the 5th one the yolk breaks, there’s a good chance that some of it will drop into your whites bowl, and bam – you’ve just wasted 5 eggs and have to start again. Remember, even one speck of yolk in the whites means they won’t beat, so rather play it safe.
After successfully separating your eggs, follow the instructions here to work with the whites.
If you’re feeling nervous about the whole process, you can try this cool trick.