Working with Egg Whites

Beating Egg Whites

Adding beaten egg whites to a dish makes it lighter and fluffier as it tends to rise more. Egg whites can be tricky things but if you follow a few rules, you should be fine:

  1. You first need to separate your eggs properly. If you’re not sure how, follow the instructions here.
  2. When you beat an egg white, the volume increases as you incorporate air into it. It then needs to be used immediately before it collapses.
  3. Eggs at room temperature increase more in volume than cold ones, so if you are using the yolk as well, leave the eggs out beforehand. If you are only using the white though, separate them and just leave the white out, storing the yolk in the fridge, covered in some water, for later use.
  4. Especially when making meringues, eggs that are at least 2 days old work best. If you are buying from the shops, this won’t be a problem, but if you are taking them out from under your chickens, best to leave them a day or two before using them.
  5. Both your bowl and your beaters/whisk need to be perfectly clean and dry.
  6. Use a rounded bowl rather than one with straight edges so the whisk can stay in constant contact with the whites.
  7. When you separate your egg, make sure there isn’t even a speck of yolk in the white or it won’t beat up properly.
  8. Add a pinch of salt to the whites before beating to reduce whisking time.
  9. You know you’re done:
  • For soft peaks, when you lift the whisk out the bowl to form a peak, the peak holds its shape but gently bends over.
  • For firm peaks, there should be no movement at all from the peak when you lift the whisk out.

Folding Beaten Egg Whites into a Mixture

  1. Use a metal spoon rather than a thicker wooden one so you disturb the white as little as possible.
  2. Pile the beaten whites on top of the mixture then gently draw part of the mix from the bottom of the bowl over them.
  3. Keep doing this until you don’t see any big lumps of egg white left in the mix. Don’t stir or you will lose some of the air in the whites.
  4. Some recipes suggest stirring in a spoonful of egg white before starting the folding, in which case just stir in that first spoonful and fold the rest.
  5. Be sure to check the temperature suggested by the recipe and follow it exactly – some dishes with egg white need to cook at higher than average temperatures.
  6. Get the mix in the oven as soon as possible after adding the egg white, and make sure the oven is up to temperature when you do. The timing of this can be tricky so rather switch your oven on earlier than you think you need to if you’re worried.
  7. Serve your dish as soon as possible after it comes out of the oven as it will immediately start to collapse.

Good luck!




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