cracking eggs

Avoid This Common Mistake Cracking Eggs

Eggs Are a Kitchen Essential

Eggs are by far one of the most common items added to a grocery cart, along with bread and milk. Those three items alone scream that a snowstorm is coming in the Northeast. The popularity of eggs is primarily thanks to their accessibility, cost, protein content, and versatility in the kitchen. While eggs are commonly eaten as a breakfast staple, they’re also essential for quiches, cakes, and glazes to create golden crusts on pies, calzones, and pretzels! Unfortunately, while eggs are a straightforward ingredient, cracking them can be tricky. 

One of the most common methods to crack an egg is to tap it on the lip of a bowl, split the egg along the crack created with your fingers, and pour the contents over the bowl. It’s no surprise as it’s one of the quickest methods and sometimes even depicted as a method to perfect in movies and shows. However, while it’s a quick method, cracking eggs directly into a recipe can pose a few risks, including shell fragments and potential expired egg contamination. Luckily, cracking eggs into a separate bowl is an easy trick that can help. 

Cracking Eggs Isn't Always Perfect

One of the most cliche ways to crack an egg is by tapping the shell on the side of a mixing bowl, splitting the egg open, and pouring the egg into the batter. While you can do it, there are a few reasons why I don’t. The first reason is that cracking eggs directly into a recipe is sure to have eggshells floating around. While eggshells are technically edible, it’s not a pleasant experience when one crunches between your teeth. Stray eggshells are easily avoidable by cracking into a separate bowl. 

As you crack the eggs, if you notice a piece of shell made its way into the bowl, it’s easier to see against the egg whites. Once in batter, shells easily blend in, especially if it’s a white shell mixed into the flour. Baker’s tip! If you notice a piece of shell, one trick to avoid repeatedly fishing the shell out is to wet your fingertips. The water creates a thin barrier between your finger and the albumen, commonly known as egg whites, and allows you to grasp the shell fragment more easily. 

Bad Eggs Can Ruin a Recipe

Eggs have a reasonably long shelf life if purchased fresh. While many factors can affect the shelf life of eggs, once an egg spoils, there’s no saving it. Not only will the flavor be terrible, but the risk of a potential salmonella infection increases significantly. If you use your eggs regularly, chances are you won’t have to worry about rotten eggs. But when an egg does expire, a foul smell is most commonly the giveaway. A sulfur smell emits from the production of hydrogen sulfide. 

If you crack a rotten egg directly into a recipe, it ruins the entire batch at that point. You not only risk the hydrogen dioxide affecting the taste, but most importantly, you are risking a potential food illness. Cracking the eggs separately from a mixed recipe limits the contamination of a rotten egg to that specific ingredient. Then, you can discard the compromised eggs and add a fresh batch to the recipe. 

Say Goodbye to Running Yolks

Many recipes and diets will call for egg whites or egg yolks. Sometimes you will add both but in different stages. Cartons of separated eggs are available for a recipe calling for egg whites. But if you prefer to separate egg whites yourself or need the yolks as well, it’s easy to do so. When separating eggs, a common mental visual is a baker cracking an egg in half. They transfer the yolk from one shell half to the other. The egg whites drip off into a bowl below as the yolk transfers. This process is time-consuming and risks the chance of the yolk popping on the shell. 

separating eggs

Instead, use one small bowl, a medium or large bowl, and an air-tight container if saving egg yolks. Crack eggs one at a time into the small bowl. After cracking an egg, form a small bowl with your hand and gently scoop the yolk onto your fingers. Swirl the yolk over the larger bowl, and the egg whites will slip through your fingers when slightly separated. Once only the yolk remains, you can either discard it or add it to the air-tight container. Attach the lid and write the date of packaging. Egg yolks can be refrigerated for up to four days once out of the shell. 

Cracking Eggs Separately Is a Simple Step and Can Save Time

The next time you crack an egg, take the time to do so into a separate bowl. It may create an extra dish to wash, but it doesn’t add much to a recipe’s total prep time. A different dish is a small tradeoff to prevent stray eggshell pieces and reduce the risk of food waste and contamination. Trust me; nothing is more frustrating than adding a final ingredient, only to throw away an entire batch. It’s not only a waste of time but also money. 

In some recipes, you may not even need a cracking bowl. For example, when making scrambled eggs, I crack eggs first. Then, once any shell pieces are removed, I’ll add seasons, additional ingredients, and whisk. The same applies to quiches and egg glazes. If eggs are a regular item on your shopping list, are they more used in cooking or baking? In my kitchen, they’re used equally in baking and cooking breakfast. If you have a favorite recipe using eggs, I’d love to hear in the comments!

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