Egg Safety: To Pierce Or Not Before Boiling

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Egg Safety: To Pierce Or Not Before Boiling

Some people pierce the raw egg shell before hard-boiling to make it easier to peel when cooked. Piercing egg shells before cooking is not recommended. If not sterile, the piercer or needle can introduce bacteria into the egg. Also, piercing creates hairline cracks in the shell, through which bacteria can enter after cooking.

Microwave Wisdom: Why Not to Microwave Eggs in Shells

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Microwave Wisdom: Why Not to Microwave Eggs in Shells​

You must break the eggs out of their shells before microwaving. Never microwave eggs in shells.  If you cook an egg in shell in the microwave, it’s likely to explode. Microwaves heat so quickly that steam builds up faster than an egg can ‘exhale’ it through its pores and the steam bursts through the shell. For the same reason, when microwaving, always prick the yolk of an unbeaten egg with the tip of a knife or a wooden pick. The vent you create allows the steam to escape safely.

All models of microwave ovens tend to cook foods unevenly, leaving cold spots. To encourage more even cooking, cover the dish, stir the ingredients, if possible, and either use a turntable or rotate the dish at least once or twice during the cooking time.

Cooking Eggs: Freshness Matters

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Cooking Eggs: Freshness Matters

As an egg ages, the white becomes thinner, the yolk becomes flatter and the yolk membrane becomes weaker, making it more likely to break. These changes don’t affect the egg nutritionally or functionally but the freshness of an egg does affect its appearance. For attractive poached or fried eggs, the fresher they are, the better they will hold a compact oval shape with a thick white and a high centered yolk, rather than spread out in the pan. On the other hand, if you hard-boil eggs that are at least a week old, you’ll find them easier to peel than very fresh eggs.

Why Do Eggs Turn Green When Cooked?

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Why do Eggs Turn Green When Cooked?​

Why do Scrambled Eggs Turn Green In a Cast Iron Skillet? This harmless but unappealing color change is the result of a chemical reaction between iron in the pan and sulfur in egg whites.

Why do Boiled Eggs Turn Green? The discoloration that sometimes forms around the yolk of hard-boiled eggs is the result of a similar reaction – this time between sulfur in the whites and iron in the yolks.  It too, is harmless.  It occurs when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature.  Our method – cooking eggs in hot, not boiling, water, and then cooling immediately – minimizes this. 

How to Beat Egg Whites

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How to Beat Egg Whites​

Beating eggs is a basic baking skill. Find tips on how to beat egg whites and facts for cooking eggs from the Incredible Egg.


Bowl size (and shape) matters.  For proper aeration, a small mixer bowl is best for up to 3 egg whites.  Use a large mixer bowl for 4 or more whites.  When beaten, egg whites increase as much as 6 to 8 times in volume.  The bowl should be large enough to hold the expanding whites, but not so large that the whites are spread too thin.  The bowl should be deep enough for the beaters to make contact with as much of the whites as possible.

Beaters and bowl should be spotlessly clean.  Any residue of fat will prevent egg whites from beating up properly.  Use a stainless steel or glass bowl.  Plastic bowls can retain a film of grease.

Mixers:  Using an electric portable or stand mixer is easiest.  Meringue can be beaten with a balloon whisk, but this requires more than average arm strength and endurance.


Keep the yolks separate from the whites. Fat from egg yolk will prevent egg whites from beating up properly.  When separating eggs, take care that no yolk gets in the whites.  To avoid an accident, separate each egg white into a cup or small bowl before transferring it to the mixer bowl.  Discard any white that has even a speck of yolk in it (or refrigerate or freeze it for another use).

Egg temperature: It’s easiest to separate eggs cleanly when they are refrigerator-cold.  However egg whites whip up to a greater volume when they’ve had a chance to warm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.  Before beating egg whites, always begin by separating the eggs.  Then let the whites stand at room temperature while you prepare the baking pan, equipment and other ingredients.

Cream of tartar:  The air beaten into egg whites can be lost quite easily.  A small amount of acidic ingredient, such as cream of tartar, acts as a stabilizing agent.  A bit of lemon juice or vinegar will also work.
Salt decreases egg-white foam stability, so it is not used in meringues.

Add sugar gradually. For optimum volume and smoothest texture, sugar should be added gradually, beginning only after the whites have been beaten to the foamy stage (about double in volume).  Adding some or all of the sugar before you begin beating the egg whites will result in less volume.

To check if sugar is dissolved: After each addition, whites should be beaten until sugar has dissolved before adding more.  To test, rub a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger.  If sugar is dissolved, it will feel completely smooth. If it feels grainy or sandy, continue beating.  Undissolved sugar can cause sugar spots on the meringue surface.

How Long Can You Store Eggs?

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How Long Can I Store Eggs?

Refrigerate eggs at 40°F or less. Store them in their original carton on an inside shelf. The carton keeps the eggs from picking up odors or flavors from other foods and helps prevent moisture loss. Reference this handy chart for more egg storage tips.

EggsRefrigerator (35°F to 40°F)
Raw whole eggs (in shell)4 to 5 weeks beyond the pack date or about 3 weeks after purchase
Raw whole eggs (slightly beaten)Up to 2 days
Raw egg whitesUp to 4 days
Raw egg yolksUp to 2 days
Hard-cooked eggs (in shell)Up to 1 week
Hard-cooked eggs (peeled)Use the same day for best quality

Egg Doneness Indicators and Cooking Time

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Egg Doneness Indicators and Cooking Time​

How can you tell when your eggs are done? Cook egg dishes according to the following guidelines for egg cooking time and indicators of doneness.

Scrambled Eggs, Omelets, Frittatas

The scrambled eggs are done when they are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains.

Fried Eggs – Over-Easy, Over-Hard and Basted

To cook both sides and increase the temperature the eggs reach, cook slowly and either baste the eggs, cover the pan with a lid or turn the eggs. Cook until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard.

Poached Eggs

For classic poached eggs cooked gently in simmering water, cook until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, about 5 minutes. For steamed eggs cooked in ‘poaching’ inserts set above simmering water, cook until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, about 6 to 9 minutes. Avoid precooking and reheating poached eggs.

Hard Boiled Eggs

These will easily reach internal temperatures of more than 160° F when they are done. After cooking, cool hard-boiled eggs quickly under running cold water or in ice water. Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs in their shells promptly after cooling and use them with one week and if peeled, use them within one day.

Baked Custards, Quiches, Casseroles, French Toast, Stratas

Cook or bake until a thermometer inserted at the center shows 160° F or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. You may find it difficult to tell if a knife shows uncooked egg or melted cheese in some casseroles and other combination dishes that are thick or heavy and contain cheese – lasagna, for example. To be sure these dishes are done, check to see that a thermometer at the center of the dish shows 160° F. Also use a thermometer to help guard against uneven cooking due to hot spots and inadequate cooking due to varying oven temperatures.
The knife test: Test for doneness with a thin-bladed knife. Insert knife about 1 inch from the center of a one-dish custard; midway between center and edge of cups. If knife is clean when pulled out, the custard is done. If any custard clings to the blade, bake a few minutes longer and test again.
Cheese fillings: Quiche fillings containing cheese may continue to test “wet” even after they are done, making the knife test unreliable. In this case, bake until the center appears almost set but still jiggles a bit when the dish is tapped or gently shaken.

Stirred Custards, Eggnog, Ice Cream Bases

Cook until thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and a thermometer shows 160° F or higher. After cooking, cool quickly by setting the pan in ice or cold water and stirring for a few minutes to prevent overcooking. Cover and refrigerate to chill thoroughly, at least 1 hour.

Pie Meringues

Bake a 3-egg-white meringue spread on a hot, fully cooked pie filling in a preheated 350° F oven until the meringue reaches 160° F, about 15 minutes. For meringues using more whites, bake at 325° F (or a lower temperature) until a thermometer registers 160° F, about 25 to 30 minutes (or more). The more egg whites, the lower the temperature and longer the time you need to cook the meringue through without excessive browning. Refrigerate meringue-topped pies until serving. Return leftovers to the refrigerator