– See Zabaglione
Welcome to the The Incredible Edible Egg™ Eggcyclopedia, where you can access the latest egg information from A-Z. The Eggcyclopedia was developed by the American Egg Board (AEB) on behalf of America's egg farmers who are committed to caring for their hens and producing high-quality eggs for you and your families.
Just click on any letter below to bring up a list of egg terms and their related definitions.
– See Zabaglione
One of several types of bacteria which can cause foodborne illness (salmonellosis) if ingested in large numbers. The Salmonella group of bacteria can be found in the intestinal tract of animals, birds, insects, reptiles, fish, seafood and people. Salmonella can be passed to humans through the consumption of contaminated foods that have been in contact with unwashed hands, raw meat or poultry, eggs, seafood, milk, or by coming in contact with contaminated animal feces. It was once thought that inside of the chicken egg was sterile, the shell protecting the contents from any kind of contamination. Dr. St. Louis and colleagues discovered in the late 1980s that a bacteria, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), could indeed get inside the egg through the hen’s reproductive tract. Since this discovery, researchers, egg producers, and government agencies have worked hard to implement and maintain practices to ensure that the hen does not have the ability to shed SE in the egg. The chance of an egg becoming infected with SE is very low. If it is present in the egg, producres can contol the growth through refrigeration and kill it with processes like pasteurization. SE will not grow at temperatures below 40ºF (4ºC) and is killed at 160ºF (71ºC). Temperatures between 40ºF (4ºC) and 140ºF (60ºC), known as the danger zone, are ideal for rapid growth. Eggs are required to be refrigerated at or below 45ºF (7ºC) no later than 36 hours after being laid.
The majority of salmonellosis outbreaks have been attributed to foods other than eggs — nuts, vegetables, chickens, beef and fish — and through cross contamination of utensils and other foods used during preparation. Of the outbreaks involving eggs, most have occurred in foodservice operations and have been the result of inadequate refrigeration and insufficient cooking.
You can avoid illness from SE through adequate refrigeration, proper cooking and sanitary kitchen and food handling procedures.
– See Fat
In addition to the primary function of thickening sauces, eggs enrich flavor, add color and increase nutritive value.
You can use a milk or cream sauce thickened with eggs to bind casseroles and meatloaves or serve a sweetened egg-thickened sauce with a dessert.
Butter sauces are emulsions of butter and other liquids. When heated, the egg both thickens and strengthens the emulsion. Hollandaise is the best known sauce of this type.
Other egg sauces include those in which chopped hard-boiled eggs are an ingredient.
– See Hard or Swiss Meringue
Hard-boiled eggs coated with sausage, breaded and deep-fried.
A serving of an individual food is defined by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for dietary guidance and by FDA for food labels. One egg equals one serving.
– See MyPlate
The egg’s outer covering, accounting for about 9 to 12% of its total weight, depending on the egg size. The shell is the egg’s first line of defense against bacterial contamination.
The shell is largely composed of calcium carbonate (about 94%) with small amounts of magnesium carbonate, calcium phosphate and other organic matter, including protein.
Shell strength is greatly influenced by the minerals and vitamins in the hen’s diet, particularly calcium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamin D. If the diet is deficient in calcium, for instance, the hen will produce a thin or soft-shelled egg or possibly an egg with no shell. Occasionally an egg may be prematurely expelled from the uterus due to injury or excitement. In this case, the shell has not had time to be completely formed. Shell thickness is also related to egg size which, in turn, is related to the hen’s age. As the hen ages, egg size increases. The same amount of shell material which covers a smaller egg must be stretched to cover a larger one, hence the shell is thinner.
Seven to 17 thousand tiny pores are distributed over the shell surface, a greater number at the large end. As the egg ages, these tiny holes permit moisture and carbon dioxide to move out and air to move in to form the air cell. The shell is covered with a protective coating called the cuticle or bloom. By blocking the pores, the cuticle helps to preserve freshness and prevent microbial contamination of the contents.
Eggshells uses vary from the thrifty, such as compost, to the creative, as in decorated eggs.
– See Cooking Methods, Baked
Several factors influence the size of an egg. The major factor is the age of the hen. As the hen ages, her eggs increase in size.
The breed of hen from which the egg comes is a second factor. Weight of the bird is another. Pullets significantly underweight at sexual maturity will produce small eggs.
Environmental factors that lower egg weights are heat, stress, overcrowding and poor nutrition.
All of these variables are of great importance to the egg producer. Even a slight shift in egg weight influences size classification and size is one of the factors considered when eggs are priced. Careful flock management benefits both the hens and the producer.
Although you can use any size egg for frying, scrambling, hard-boiling or poaching, most recipes for baked items such as custards and cakes are based on the use of large eggs.
A puffy, delicate, light-as-air creation. Savory or sweet, hot or cold, soufflés are sensational and impressive whether served as a main dish, accompaniment or dessert.
Strictly speaking, a true soufflé consists of a thick white sauce blended with beaten egg yolks and leavened by stiffly beaten whites. It may also contain pureed, shredded or finely chopped meat, poultry, fish, seafood, cheese or vegetables, and is always served hot. You can substitute a condensed cream soup or quick-cooking tapioca cooked in milk for the white sauce. For sweet or dessert soufflés, you can add sugar to the sauce.
Like many skills, making a successful soufflé is easy when you know how. A mastery of the following basics will have you turning out soufflés with the best of them.
If you don’t have a traditional soufflé dish, use a straight-sided casserole dish or even a straight –sided uncoated saucepan of the proper size. For individual servings, you can use large custard cups or ovenproof coffee or soup mugs. As it bakes, the soufflé will increase in volume 2 to 3 times, so container size is important. If the container is too large, the mixture will not rise above the rim and have the lofty look that is part of a soufflé’s charm. If the container is too small, the mixture may run over. Usually a 4-egg soufflé will fit a 1 1/2- to 2-quart container. Use a 2- to 2 1/2-quart container for a 6-egg soufflé. You can fill the container to within 1/2 inch of the top.
A soufflé needs to cling to the sides of the container to reach its maximum height. So, don’t butter the container unless you also lightly dust the buttered bottom and sides of the container with grated Parmesan cheese, cornmeal or very fine, dry bread crumbs, which will lend flavor and a nice crusty texture. For dessert soufflés, you can dust with sugar, finely chopped nuts or cookie crumbs, if you like.
If your container is a tad too small or your beating and folding skills are exceptional, you can fit a collar around the top of the container to keep the soufflé in bounds. Make a 4-inch band of triple- thickness aluminum foil long enough to go around the container and overlap 2 inches. Butter and dust the band. Wrap the band around the outside of the dish with the dusted side in and fasten it with strong masking tape or string. The collar should extend at least 2 inches above the rim of the container.
Click here for a Basic Savory Soufflé recipe.
A term loosely applied to a number of airy egg dishes with a texture closely resembling a soufflé. For the purist, however, cold soufflés are more accurately known as snows or sponges, chiffons or Bavarians.
Snows or sponges are clear gels plus egg whites. To make one, you add unbeaten egg whites to a partially-set basic gelatin mixture and beat until soft peaks form. Then chill until firm.
Chiffons consist of beaten egg whites added to custard gels. For the custard base, you cook egg yolks with gelatin. Then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites and chill the mixture. You can enjoy a chiffon as is or use it for a pie filling.
Bavarians are custard gels you make with egg yolks, then add both beaten egg whites and whipped cream.
These recipes are usually made with raw whites and/or yolks, but some can be cooked.
An airy foam cake similar to angel food cake, except that sponge cake may be made with egg yolks or with whole eggs. True sponge cakes contain no fat or leavening agent other than eggs.
The refrigerator is where you should store your eggs. It’s best to place the eggs on an inside shelf. Repeated opening and closing of the door causes temperature fluctuations and slamming can result in breakage. The carton in which you purchase them helps keep the eggs from picking up odors and flavors from other foods and helps prevent moisture loss.
You can keep fresh, uncooked eggs in the shell refrigerated in their cartons for at least four to five weeks beyond the pack date or about three weeks after you bring them home. Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely spoil. If you keep them long enough, they are more likely to simply dry up. But don’t leave eggs out. They’ll age more in one day at room temperature than they will in one week in the refrigerator.
As soon as you’ve cooled them, refrigerate hard-boiled eggs in their shells and use them within one week. When storing hard-boiled eggs, you may notice a gassy odor in your refrigerator. It may be more noticeable when you open the refrigerator infrequently. The odor is caused by hydrogen sulfide, which forms when the eggs are cooked, is harmless and usually dissipates within a few hours.
For outdoor eating occasions, you can keep eggs refrigerator-cold with ice or commercial coolant in an insulated bag or picnic cooler as long as the ice lasts or the coolant remains almost at freezing. Unless it’s quite cold weather, for hiking, backpacking, camping and boating, when refrigeration or cooler facilities aren’t available, use dried eggs, which are usually available in sporting goods stores. You can reconstitute dried eggs with purified water and use them in most of the ways you would use fresh eggs. Pickling and other forms of preservation are additional possibilities.
Refrigerate leftover egg whites in a covered container for up to four days. Store leftover yolks in water in a covered container in the refrigerator and use them in a day or two. If you can’t use the yolks quickly enough, hard boil them. If you find yourself with more eggs than you will use in several weeks, freeze them.
A custard mixture poured over layers of bread, cheese and sometimes additional ingredients, and baked. The strata casserole was created to use up stale bread.
– See Deviled Eggs
– See Curdling