Most of us either eat eggs or we use them in recipes day in and day out. But what do we really know about eggs? Do we know how to select the right ones, do we know how to store them, how to measure them, or all their varied uses? Here is the lowdown on eggs.
The freshness of eggs is essential to successful baking. Old eggs smell and taste bad, and the white loses its structure and becomes runny. A fresh egg, on the other hand, has a yolk that retains its rounded shape well and its white is firm and clear. Place an egg in a glass of cold water. Does it sink to the bottom? It is fresh. But if it floats up and stays on top of the water, it has passed its prime and shouldn't be used for baking. Cartons of eggs in supermarkets are marked with freshness dates. Always choose the freshest Grade A or AA eggs you can and, while you're at it, open the carton and check for any cracked eggs. If you find one, don't buy that carton and report it to the store manager so they can be discarded.
The size of the egg is very important in baking. Most recipes state how many eggs you will need but the important thing is the weight, which can vary. A small egg weighs about 1-1/2 ounces while a large one weighs about 2 ounces. This affects how much flour will be needed and depends on how much the egg can absorb. Most recipes are based on large eggs unless otherwise stated. The color of the shell can vary from white to brown but does not affect the quality of the egg, nor the taste.
Eight to 10 large egg whites equal 1 cup, while 12 to 14 large egg yolks equal 1 cup. Eggs should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. They are best when used within one week but will keep for up to a month. Since eggs can easily be cracked, keep them in the carton, not in the refrigerator door rack. It is not necessary to wash eggs. In fact, those sold in supermarkets have a protective coating on the shells that helps seal them. Washing would remove that extra protection. Eggs can be frozen thus: break and separate the eggs, making sure no yolk gets into the whites. Freeze the whites in an airtight container. When defrosted they can be beaten and used in baking. To freeze the yolks, beat in 1/8 teaspoon of salt or 1-1/2 teasoon sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup egg yolk. Use the salted yolks for savory dishes and sweetened yolks for baking or desserts. Thaw frozen whites or yolks overnight in the refrigerator.