Working with Egg Whites

Egg white are key players in many recipes and often are the reason for recipe failures. Egg whites should whip up high in volume yet be stable, moist and soft enough (even with stiff peaks) to fold easily into batters or spread for meringues.

These tips will help make sure your whipping efforts succeed.

Temperature. To ensure the greatest yield when whipped, whites should be at room temperature. Because warm eggs are harder to separate, however, separate them while they're cold. Then bring the egg whites to room temperature by placing them in a bowl that is then set in another bowl of warm water.

Hand separation. The best way to separate eggs is with your hands, because you're less likely to break the yolk. Place two bowls on the counter. Crack the egg, and dump the yolk and egg white into one hand, over one of the bowls. Spread apart your fingers slightly to let the white fall through, into the bowl. Place the yolk into the other bowl. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before and after separating eggs.

Shell rescue..If you contaminate the whites with a small amount of yolk, use the shell to scoop out the yolk.

Clean equipment..Make sure the bowl and beaters are clean and free of fat. Even a small amount of fat, such as egg yolk or oil, can contaminate the whites and prevent them from whipping properly. As a precaution, lightly wipe the clean mixing bowl and beaters with vinegar or lemon juice.

Best bowl..A copper bowl is ideal to use for mixing whites. There is a chemical reaction between the copper and the whites, resulting in more stable whites. If you don't have copper, use a stainless steel bowl.

Slow start. Begin beating whites at medium-low to low speed until they're frothy. Then increase the speed to medium-high or high and beat continuously until they reach the desired stage.

Whisk by hand..If you consistently have problems with overbeating whites, try whipping them by hand using a copper bowl and a large balloon whish with lots of fine tines. Doin so produces more stable whites, and it's nearly impossible to overbeat them.

How do you know when whites are perfectly whipped? They should remain stable, even if you tip the bowl upside down.

Here are some recipes the contain whipped eggs whites.

Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie.

Almond Chocolate Kisses.

Sweet Potato-Brown Sugar Meringue Pie.

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