Eggs info Cooking Tips
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Eggs info Tips and Information|
Eggs info and tips will help you in your cooking and food preparation.These are very useful and quite interesting information that you learn once and then apply at any time you need it.
If you want to learn how to cook start with eggs.
The construction of the egg includes a space for the air to collect at the wide end and its the amount of air in this space that determines the age and quality of the egg and how best to cook it. A fresh egg has a rounded plump yolk that sits up proudly. The white has a thicker gelatinous layer that clings all around the yolk and a thinner outer layer. A less fresh egg has a yolk that is flatter and the two separate textures of white are not quite so visible.
Now all is revealed! You can see very dearly why you may have had problems in the past and why an egg needs to be fresh if you want to fry or poach it because what you will get is a lovely neat rounded shape. Alas a stale egg will spread itself more thinly and what you will end up with if you are frying is is a very thin pancake with a yellow centre. If you put it into water to poach it would probably disintegrate with the yolk and white parting company. Separating eggs is yet another hazard if the eggs are too old because initially the yolk is held inside a fairly tough transparent membrane but this weakens with age and so breaks more easily.
So far so good. But we havent quite cracked it yet because just to confuse matters a very fresh egg isnt always best. Why? Because we have another factor to take into consideration. If we get back to the presence of air: inside the shell is an inner membrane a sort of safety net that would have protected the chick if the egg had been fertilised. When the egg is fresh this is like a taut stretched skin; then as more air penetrates the egg this skin slackens. This explains why if you hardboil a really fresh egg peeling off both the shell and the skin is absolute torture. But if the egg is a few days or even a week old the skin will become looser and the egg will peel like a dram. What all this means is yes you can cook perfect eggs every time as long as you know how old they are.
How to tell how old an egg is
How to tell how old a raw egg is while it is safely tucked away in its shell could seem a bit tricky but not so. Remember the air pocket? There is a simple test that tells you exactly how much air there is. All you do is place the egg in a tumbler of cold water: if it sinks to a completely horizontal position it is very fresh; if it tilts up slightly or to a semihorizontal position it could be up to a week old; if it floats into a vertical position then it is stale. The only reason this test would not work is if the egg had a hairline crack which would allow more air in. That said 99 per cent of the time the cook can do this simple test and know precisely how the egg will behave. To sum up the simple guidelines are as follows:
If you want to separate the yolk from the white of an egg the egg has to be as fresh as possible. The protective membrane that encloses the yolk weakens with age and breaks more easily and this can cause problems because if even one speck of yolk gets into the white it wont be suitable for whisking. So with eggs as fresh as possible theres much less chance of that happening.
Leftover whites and yolks
One query that often comes up in your letters is what I do with leftover whites if Im only using yolks and vice versa. The good news here is chat eggs freeze very well so pack them in small containers and dorit forget to label them with the amount trying to guess how many egg whites you have is not a good idea.
For poaching and frying:
always use eggs as spanking fresh as you possibly can.
For peeled hardboiled eggs:
about a week old or up to a fortnight is okay.
For scrambled eggs and omelettes:
the fresher the eggs the better but up to two weeks is fine
For baked dishes:
such as quiches or for home baking and so on eggs more than two weeks old can be used.
All eggs: should be used within two weeks if at all possible.An extra week is okay but three weeks is the maximum keeping time.
How to buy and store eggs
Number one on the list here (unless you happen to know the hens) is to buy your eggs from a supplier who has a large turnover. Boxes now (and sometimes the eggs themselves) carry a `best before date. What you should know is that this date provided the egg box is stamped with the lion mark corresponds precisely to 21 days after laying (not packing) so you are therefore able to work out just how fresh your eggs are.
Although it is now being recommended that eggs should be stored in the refrigerator I never do. The reason for this is that for most cooking purposes eggs are better used at room temperature. If I kept them in the fridge I would have the hassle of removing them half an hour or so before using them. A cool room or larder is just as good but if however you think your kitchen or storecupboard is too warm and want to store them in the fridge youll need to try and remember to let your eggs come to room temperature before you use them. My answer to the storage problem is to buy eggs in small quantities so I never have to keep them too long anyway.
The very best way to store eggs is to keep them in their own closed lidded boxes. Because the shells are porous eggs can absorb the flavours and aromas of other strong foods so close the boxes and keep them fairly isolated particularly if youre storing them in the fridge.
There is however one glorious exception to this rule. My dear friend and great chef Simon Hopkinson once came to stay in our home. He brought some newlaid eggs in a lidded box which also contained a fresh black truffle. He arrived on Maundy Thursday and on Easter Sunday made some soft scrambled eggs which by now had absorbed all the fragrance and flavour of the truffle. Served with thin shavings of the truffle sprinkled over I have to say they were the very best Easter eggs I have ever tasted!
What about cholesterol?
Eggs I am very happy to report are out of the firing line on the cholesterol front. It is now believed that the real culprits on this one are saturated fat and partially hydrogenated fat which eggs thankfully are low in. There is more good news too: even if you are on a lowfat diet eating up to seven eggs a week is okay. Hooray!
How safe are they?
Poor old eggs; just as they recover from one slur along comes another. Eggs as we know can harbour a bacterium called salmonella. Cases of food poisoning or even death from eating eggs are isolated but do occur. Therefore the only way we can be absolutely certain of not being affected is by only eating eggs that are well cooked with hard yolks and no trace of softness or runny yolk at all. Ugh! What we all need to do is consider this very seriously and be individually responsible for making our own decisions. Life in the end is full of risks. The only way I can be absolutely sure I wont be involved in a car accident (and statistically this is a far greater risk than eating eggs) is to never ride in a car. But I am personally willing to take that risk as I am when I eat a softboiled egg. So its a personal decision. As a general practice though it is not advisable to serve these to vulnerable groups such as very young children pregnant women the elderly or anyone weakened by serious illness.
Some general egg information
1.Is there any difference between brown and white shells?:
None whatsoever. The colour of the shell is determined by the breed of the hen that laid it. Aesthetically speaking white denotes a sophisticated kind of purity while brown is full of rural wholesomeness.
Having gone through a couple of decades of numbering eggs we are now back to size descriptions which are as follows: very large large medium and small. Please note that in this book the eggs used in all recipes are large.
3 The eggs now available on a large scale commercially are as follows: freerange means the hens have continuous daytime access to openair runs that contain vegetation; barn or perchery means the hens are enclosed but have floor space covered in straw or other materials. Eggs labelled organic are produced in the same way as freerange but in this case the hens habitat is land that has been certified as free from herbicides and pesticides (as is the land on which their feed has been . grown). The remaining eggs are all produced in battery units.
4 There are of course other types of eggs. I have included recipes and timings for commercially produced eggs lie hens and quails eggs) but if you have access to and want to cook other types of eggs (goose turkey duck) then allow extra time for size. If you are baking the best way to measure is by comparing the eggs you are using weight for weight with hens eggs to give you a guideline. Gulls eggs are pretty rare and exclusive but they should be boiled like quails eggs peeled and are traditionally served with a sprinkling of celery salt.
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