Get these fundamental techniques right.
There is a right and wrong way to do most everything in a professional kitchen. The wrong way usually means sacrificing speed, accuracy, efficiency, ingredients (i.e., money), or some combination of all of the above.
Even small things tend to feel high stakes. I have been called out on each of the following, and much more:
- Not hulling two cases of strawberries close enough to the green tops, to not waste any berry
- Putting the dairy delivery away too slowly
- Getting a few tiny bits of egg shell into an enormous batch of cake batter. How enormous? Think flour and sugar measured in double-digit pounds, and eggs cracked by the case.
There is a right way to crack and separate eggs in a professional kitchen. The right way is cleaner and less likely to cause waste and shells. Here is how.
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How to Crack an Egg
Most people crack eggs on the side of a bowl. This is not the best technique. Shell can pierce the egg, which runs the risks of both contamination and mess.
Instead, crack the egg on the flat surface of the table or counter. You should have a nice, clean crack. Then, pry the two halves apart, and let the egg fall into the bowl. Neater, cleaner, and fewer bits of shell.
How to Separate an Egg — and Rescue Egg Whites
There are gadgets for separating eggs, including this particularly weird/fascinating one. But there is a more efficient way: Crack the egg into a clean hand, and let the whites drip through to a bowl beneath. You will be left cradling a whole yolk, which you can put in a separate bowl.
If you do not love the feeling of raw egg in your hand, you can also crack the egg and let the white drip into a bowl beneath as you transfer the yolk back and forth once or twice between the two egg shell halves. This has a slightly increased risk of yolk breakage, but generally works.
A Couple More Egg Separation Techniques and Tips
- Fish out “goldfish.” Occasionally, bits of egg yolk may accidentally drip into the bowl of whites. Because of the yolks’ fat content, this can make bad things happen, like ruining a meringue. To fish out these errant “goldfish,” as my pastry instructor called them, use an egg shell half. Somehow, the sharpness and viscosity of the shell acts as a natural yolk catcher. Attempting to use your fingers or a spoon will result only in the yolk getting away from you.
- Use a third bowl. For added insurance, separate eggs one at a time into a small bowl, then keep pouring each white and yolk into their respective bowls as you go. That way, the most you will ever have to sacrifice is one egg. It is very frustrating to crack egg white 11 of 12, only to have yolk drip into a nice, full bowl of whites.