There are endless ways to enjoy eggs, from hearty scrambles to keto-friendly egg muffins.
Though the concept seems simple — just crack and enjoy, right? — there are plenty of people who have gotten shells in their scrambles to prove that it's not always so straightforward. TODAY Food spoke with an eggs-cellent eggs-pert to nail down the best technique for cracking an egg and how to get rid of any pesky shell pieces.
Where should you crack an egg?
The counter or the edge of another surface? That is the question many home cooks debate when choosing the best place to give their egg a gentle whack. “This edge can be the side of a bowl or [the] defined edge of another container or utensil,” Nick Korbee, executive chef of Egg Shop NYC, told TODAY via email. “This method is for speed and I use it all the time when making mass quantities of scrambled eggs."
However, he said the sharp-edge method isn’t always the best idea for neatness. This is especially true if a home cook isn't very experienced with eggs. “This [method] tends to leave shell fragments and broken yolks from time to time, which is why I would recommend straining eggs cracked this way with a mesh strainer before using,” said Korbee.
Strain your eggs? Who has time for that?
If you need to keep whites and yolks separated for a recipe, or your cracking technique isn't always foolproof, it's best not to use a bowl. For less mess and fuss, Korbee advises cracking eggs against a the flat surface or a countertop. This egg-cracking technique is best for ensuring the yolk stays intact, and your shell is less likely to break off into the egg itself.
“I use this technique when making sunny up eggs or when separating egg whites,” said Korbee.
One hand or two?
Cracking an egg with one hand certainly looks fancy, but is it necessary?
“There is no earthly reason to force home cooks to crack eggs with one hand,” said Korbee. While this is a technique more common among chefs because it is helpful when making large quantities of egg orders at once, it takes a lot of practice and it's unlikely that a home cook will need to fire off dozens of egg orders within minutes.
But there's always room to learn a new culinary trick. Said Korbee, “If you wish to build this skill, practice holding the egg between your thumb and forefinger, tap to crack the shell and pull your thumb back gently to separate the shell and release the egg into the wild!”
Separating the yolk
Whether you're making an egg white frittata or just removing egg whites from yolks for baking (a simple souffle, perhaps?), separating eggs is a culinary skill that can lead to mishaps for many.
“I find the hand separating method to be best for separating eggs at home,” advised Korbee. “With this method you crack an egg into your clean, cupped hand and allow the whites to fall between your fingers."
Then you "gently bounce your hand up and down" hovering above a mixing bowl to let the whites fall down. This technique is very gentle, said the chef, plus it makes it easy to quickly discard the yolk into a second bowl if it starts to break apart in your hand since it hasn't already come into contact with the whites.
Get rid of sneaky shells
Whether you need to separate eggs or just crack them quickly, it's likely that a piece of shell has ended up in an egg mixture at some point.
It happens to everyone, said Korbee, but it's no reason to panic. To prevent shells from ending up in your final dish (if you're making a cake or dough, for example), never crack eggs right into the other ingredients and always use a separate bowl first, that way you'll easily be able to fish out any deviant shell pieces.
If some shell does wind up in the egg, don't toss the whole bowl.
Moisten your fingers (make sure your hands are totally clean first) and fish out the piece of egg. Egg whites tend stick to dry fingers, so it will be easier to remove the shell if nothing else is sticking to you.
If you're working with just egg whites, "you can always strain them through a mesh strainer," said Korbee.