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Separating Eggs


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35 replies to this topic

#1 Lesley C

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 04:52 PM

I've been watching people separating eggs on the Food Network and I'm going nuts!
So many of them use their hands, a practice I've always considered unprofessional and verging on disgusting. I only noticed the always great Jacques Pepin saying to use the shells, never your hands, and I think the America's Test Kitchen people were saying the same.
So fess up, do you use your hands or the egg shells to separate eggs?

#2 shugga

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 04:58 PM

I have a little yellow tupperware egg separator in the junk drawer somewhere, but usually I just use the shells, the way my mother taught me to.
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#3 ngatti

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:02 PM

Hands. Always encased in latex gloves when doing so.

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#4 Suzanne F

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:05 PM

What the chef said. SO much faster.

#5 jaybee

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:12 PM

Shells. Works fine for me. One two three it's done.

#6 nightscotsman

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:19 PM

Shells - 'cause that's the way my Momma done taught me.

By the way, how many people do the one-handed crack and break thing vs. the one hand crack, two handed break-open? And as long as we're here - do you crack on the edge of the bowl or on the counter/table top?

#7 Lesley C

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:25 PM

When done properly, shells are actually faster.
Yeah... cooks use their hands; pastry chefs use the shells.
Need I say more :raz:

#8 Peter B Wolf

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:26 PM

Years ago one-handed crack and break, with two eggs simultanous in the right hand and two in the left hand. Two cases of eggs (720) in 20 minutes for scrambling.
And separating, always used hands. It's not any different using hands on food as butchers when cutting meat or pizza makers kneading dough.
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#9 torakris

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:26 PM

I crack my eggs with one hand on the corner of the sink, open them with 2 hands and separate using the shells.

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#10 stefanyb

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:28 PM

do you crack on the edge of the bowl or on the counter/table top?

My whole cooking life I cracked eggs on the side of the bowl but at the suggestion of someone on these boards (I forget who) I have recently started just tapping them on the counter and then separating the two halves with my thumbnail. It is so much better and so much less likely to result in eggshells in the mix.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, if perchance a stray shell piece should get in the bowl, the only way to retrieve it is by scooping it out with the empty half eggshell.

#11 rozrapp

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:36 PM

I have a little yellow tupperware egg separator in the junk drawer somewhere, but usually I just use the shells, the way my mother taught me to.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who has one of these little suckers. But mine's white, it's in my utensil drawer, and I always use it when separating eggs. Works great! :smile:

#12 LaurieA-B

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:43 PM

I use my hands, which had never occurred to me, until I read it as a tip somewhere. Broken shell has sharp edges that can break your yolk; fingers don't. Now I find it works very well. I wash my hands carefully before and after breaking the eggs. Lesley, why does it seem disgusting? I haven't seen anyone doing this on TV, but I assume they are washing their hands. I admit that the raw egg feels a little ooky.
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#13 Lesley C

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:45 PM

One of my big issues about separating eggs with your hands is when people crack a bowlful, then lift them out one by one. As soon as one yolk bursts, all the whites are ruined. No big deal for cooks (they usually pitch the whites), but tragic for pastry chefs who always need clean whites and plenty of them.
Also Peter Wolf, pizza dough and meat are cooked. I've seen a chef use his hands on yolks destined for a mayonnaise and crème anglaise -- not good.
Laurie A-B, Raw egg yolks are a breeding ground for bacteria. Don't ever assume that chefs always have impeccably clean hands. Also, the sharp egg shell is what makes separating with shells so quick; it slices the white from the yolk in about two transfers and allows you to cut the chalazae into the whites.

#14 Peter B Wolf

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 05:54 PM

Ever seen a pastry chef forming rose petals from Marzipan: Thumb, palm of hand and forefinger, moistened with a bit eggwhite.
This whole thing cracks me up, "look Ma, no hands".
Better with cooks having there hands in the dough, than cashiers theirs in the till. :blink:
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#15 Lesley C

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 06:04 PM

When it comes to bacteria, the yolks are a bigger problem than the whites . Also, I've always used pasteurized whites for sticking marzipan.
So there :raz:
When I was a cooking teacher, I'd watch some people go out for a bathroom or cigarette break, come back to the kitchen, rinse their hands, wipe them in a dirty apron and start pulling the yolks out of a bowl of whites. It was really disgusting. And these people had all followed a strict hygiene course. :blink:

#16 maggiethecat

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 06:31 PM

Shells...it's kind of fun and like a kid game. Edge of counter. Though Laurie does have a point about the eggshell sometimes breaking the yolk.

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#17 Jinmyo

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 06:51 PM

St. Jacques Pepin says, "Nevah nevah crack ze eggs on a sharp sur-face. You drive ze bits of shell in-to ze eggs, hein? Always crack zem on a flat sur-face."

Please don't make Jacques Pepin cry.

As for me, under a dozen, shells. Four dozen, gloved hands. In between, I pray to St. Jacques and see what happens.
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#18 Lesley C

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 07:03 PM

Jinmyo, I'll race you on the four dozen. :smile:

#19 Suvir Saran

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 07:05 PM

Shells.  Works fine for me.  One two three it's done.

Same for me.

#20 Nick

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 07:31 PM

You drive ze bits of shell in-to ze eggs, hein?

You drive ze bits of shell into ze eggs, use ze eggshell to pick zem out. Zey like each other.

You already knew this.

#21 Aurora

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Posted 06 October 2002 - 08:47 PM

Shells. It worked for Grandma, and it works for me. I crack the egg on the sharpest edge I can find (usually the counter), and I use two hands. Nothin' but net.

#22 Saffy

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 12:44 AM

Shells almost all the time. The only time I will use hands is if I have messed up cracking the egg and ended up with a very small half and I have a double yolk egg. I use the edge of the counter to crack them.

#23 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 10:30 AM

I have a little yellow tupperware egg separator in the junk drawer somewhere, but usually I just use the shells, the way my mother taught me to.

Ditto. But I use it when I remember to, otherwise use shells. Also, always use the extra cup to avoid messing up a big batch of whites.

#24 Spoonful

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 11:26 AM

I use a plastic egg separator.

#25 Dana

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 12:17 PM

Crack egg on counter, then use shells to separate. Only use one-handed method if showing off for non-cooking guests. It's a hard trick for someone with small hands and short fingers.
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#26 FoodMan

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 02:53 PM

crack the egg on a flat surface and separate with the shells , it really cuts through the white and I think is easier than scooping them out using hands.

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#27 Aix

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 03:03 PM

For mayonnaise I always scoop out yolks by thoroughly washed or gloved hand. Salmonella lives on the shell of the egg, and it is important to reduce the contact time between the content of the egg and the outside of it.

#28 Nick

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 04:40 PM

Years ago one-handed crack and break, with two eggs simultanous in the right hand and two in the left hand.

When I was in the Navy "chefs" would do this, but I never saw one do it with two in each hand. But then they were cracking eggs for over easy and weren't breaking the yolk. Got so I could do it but it's a little silly if you're only feeding a few people.

#29 Suzanne F

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 06:55 PM

A question for the pros here: I used to hear that at some places that do a huge brunch business (I mean REALLY huge), a prep cook might take a half-case of eggs, dump them in the mixer, give them a brief whirl, then strain the whole mess through a china cap to get out the shells. Any truth to that?

(Disclaimer: this sounds like something only a ::shudder:: chain restaurant would do. We certainly never did it anywhere that I worked brunch. :laugh: )

#30 Lesley C

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Posted 07 October 2002 - 07:59 PM

No, you're right, I've seen that done in a big hotel. Why not just buy the eggs whole in liquid form?
When I worked in a patisserie in France I never separated a single egg because they bought the yolks and whites separately. Major time saver.