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Eggs - Separate or Separating Techniques

Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
Glazed Mango Mousse Cake RecipeSeparated eggs are used in many recipes that use just beaten egg whites and/or yolks. Beaten egg whites are used as leavening in a recipe, especially foam cakes, such as an Angel Food Cake. A combination of beaten whole eggs and/or separated yolks and whites are used in some sponge cakes

This how to baking technique is used with the Glazed Mango Mousse Cake Recipe.

The goal in separating eggs is to have the whites in one bowl and the yolks in the other. Both should be free of egg shells and the whites also free of egg yolk, whose fat prevents them from beating. Use a clean utensil to remove any bits of eggshell that fall into an egg mixture and avoid using eggshells to measure other foods.

Cold eggs separate more easily than room temperature ones.
SARAH SAYS: And, yolks and whites can be beaten when cold; they will achieve their appropriate volumes for use in a recipe. I do it all the time.

HOW TO SEPARATE EGGS
1. Before you separate the eggs, get two CLEAN and dry bowls: one for the separated yolks and the second, to hold the whites;
2. Crack the COLD egg on a flat surface, not the edge of the bowl. When you crack them at the edge of the bowl, you risk getting the shells inside of the egg; and,
3. It is recommended that you use an inexpensive egg separator or a funnel when you separate eggs to help prevent introducing bacteria.

QUESTION: My friend passes the egg yolk back and forth from shell half to shell half when separating eggs. Is this the best way? 
SARAH SAYS: No, it’s not. Bacteria are so very tiny that, even after washing and sanitizing, it’s possible that some bacteria may remain in the shell’s pores. The shell might also become contaminated from other sources.

NEW WAY! EGG SEPARATING WITH SUCTION METHOD
SARAH SAYS: Kelly CA posted this cool way to separate eggs. I tried it, and took the following photos. It is fast and efficient!

You need a plastic water bottle that has been emptied, washed in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher and is clean.
1. Crack COLD eggs into a clean bowl. You cannot do this if the egg yolks have broken.
Have another clean bowl ready.

2. Press the air from the water bottle, while holding it in the middle with one hand. Do not release your hand or let go.
Then place the opening of the water bottle on the surface of the egg yolk (do not press down).

3. Begin to slowly release the air back into the water bottle by slowly opening your hand holding the bottle.
As you do, the egg yolk will be suctioned back into the bottle.






4. When the egg yolk is in the bottle, tilt it to the side so the yolk stays there. This takes a bit of practice.
Release the air from the bottle while still holding it.

5. Then place the bottle's opening over a clean bowl to release the egg yolk into.


6. Tilt the bottle's opening downward into the bowl.
Gently press on the bottle in the middle with your hand so the rush of air in the bottle will push the egg yolk into the awaiting bowl.


SARAH SAYS: This technique seems to clear the chalazae attached to the yolk

7. Separate the second egg in the bowl the same way.






It's actually a lot of fun!


8. Discard the water bottle or wash with hot soapy water or in a dishwasher before another use.

OTHER WAYS:
CLEAN HANDS
When I separate the whites from yolks, I find it easier just to do this with clean hands, rather than using an egg separator.


Sometimes whites have twisted strands of white known as the chalazae attached to the yolk. Remove the larger strands, called defeathering, as they will harden when heated in the oven or on top of the stove.  (I always recommend straining an egg custard or filling before using).

4. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands in hot soapy water, afterwards.

5. Cover and store in the refrigerator if not using right away.

SARAH SAYS: A technique I learned from Jacques Pépin, Chef extraordinaire. If you have a lot of eggs to separate, don't do them one by one. Break them all into one large bowl, and use your clean hands to lift out the yolks. Let any adhering egg white dribble back into the bowl. This works if the eggs are well chilled, otherwise the yolks will break ruining your whole batch of whites.