Forget all the fancy gadgets that take up precious cabinet space and methods that make you crazy — the most reliable, sure-fire way to separate egg whites from yolks is by using the shell.
It isn’t uncommon to find a recipe that calls for egg yolks or whites to be used, so separating eggs is an essential kitchen technique to master!
There are quite a few ways that you can separate egg yolks from whites. We’ve tried everything from using a water bottle to our hands. In our experience, the best method for separating eggs is by using the egg shell.
This simple technique doesn’t make a mess and is extremely easy to master. Simply crack an egg and transfer the yolk back and forth from one half of the shell to the other while letting the egg white drip into the bowl below.
In this video, Kalie shows you how to crack and separate eggs efficiently, along with some essential tips.
Does it matter if a little bit of yolk gets into the egg white bowl?
A little egg white left behind and mixed into your yolk won’t impact your recipe. But, when using only the whites in a recipe, it’s imperative to keep them yolk-free. The fat in the egg yolk will interfere with the egg white’s protein structure and ability to whip up and form stiff peaks properly.
In fact, the whites are so delicate that egg yolk, the natural body oils from your hands and even residual detergent or oil on a bowl or whisk can interfere with the protein structure of the egg whites. For this reason, make sure you wash your hands before working with egg whites and use metal, glass or ceramic bowls for your whites because the surface is much easier to keep clean and doesn’t hold residual traces of oil and detergent like plastic can (even after washing it).
How to remove accidental drips of egg yolk or a piece of shell from whites
If any bits of egg shell or yolk land in your perfectly separated egg yolks or whites, simply scoop them out using one of the eggshell halves.
FUN FACT: An egg shell’s membrane is coated in a protein that attracts the protein in the yolks, so it’s an easy way to remove any accidental drip of yolk. A metal spoon can actually repel the yolk, so you end up chasing it around the bowl rather than seamlessly scooping it out.
Why we don’t recommend separating eggs with your hands
Many people recommend separating egg white with your hands, rather than the shell. But, as we mentioned above, egg whites can be negatively impacted by the natural oils on your skin. If you’re planning on whipping your whites, we don’t recommend separating eggs with your hands. The less the egg whites come in contact with your hands, the better.
How to store egg whites
Egg whites will keep for up to 3 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
For longer storage, you can freeze your egg whites in an ice cube tray. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes to a Ziploc freezer bag. To thaw them, place the desired amount of egg white “ice cubes” in an airtight container and thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
How to store egg yolks
Egg yolks will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to avoid the top layer of the yolk forming a “skin,” place the yolk in a container with a few drops of water on top before storing.
What are some ways I can use up the leftover raw egg that doesn’t get used in the recipe?
If you’re making a recipe that calls for either egg whites or egg yolks, you can use the leftover raw egg to make scrambled eggs or an omelet.
Get your kids involved.
There are countless recipes that use separated eggs, so it’s a great technique to teach your kids. It can be more stressful to teach them how to accomplish this when you actually NEED the white separated from the yolk, so try to practice separating the eggs with your little ones when making scrambled eggs. This way, it won’t matter if a little yolk drips into the whites as it’ll all get whisked together and cooked anyway.
If you’d rather use a tool, you can try this.
If you’re not wild about the shell method and are looking for a separator tool, check out this favorite.
When separating eggs, use cold eggs.
Cold egg yolks hold their shape better and separate more easily. If your recipe calls for room-temperature eggs, separate them while they’re cold and let the yolks and whites come to room temperature in separate bowls.
Crack the egg against a flat surface or on the rim of a bowl, as close to the middle of the egg as possible.
This will give you the cleanest break.
Consider using a three-bowl separating method.
If you know you’ll be separating several eggs and then whipping the whites for recipes such as a meringue, you may want to use three bowls. The three-bowl method is the best way to be certain no yolk finds its way into your whites and compromises the entire bowl.
To do this, dedicate one bowl for separating each individual egg white, a second bowl for the yolks and a third bowl for the already separated white to be poured into.
Crack the egg and separate the white into one bowl. The naked yolk goes into the second bowl. Once finished separating each individual egg, transfer that egg white into a larger, third, holding bowl. This larger bowl will hold all your whites together once you’re certain there’s no yolk in the smaller bowl you just separated the egg in. The next egg is then cracked in the (now empty) first bowl and the process is repeated.
This way, if a little yolk goes into your egg white when separating in the first bowl, you can discard that one egg rather than having to scrap all your previous whites too because they were in that same (compromised) bowl.
Tried this method?
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Separating an egg white from the yolk is as simple as cracking an egg and transferring the yolk back and forth from one half of the shell to the other while letting the egg white drip into the bowl below.
Set two clean bowls in front of your workspace. If you’re whipping the egg whites for a recipe and want to be EXTRA careful to not allow any yolk in the bowl, you can use three bowls (see key tips in the notes above for this process).
To crack, lightly tap the egg on a flat surface or on the rim of a bowl (whatever feels most comfortable), as close to the middle of the egg as possible.
Over a bowl, use your thumbs to gently pry the egg halves apart. Let the yolk settle in the bottom of the egg shell while the egg white runs into the bowl.
Pass the egg yolk back and forth between the egg shell halves, while allowing any remaining egg white to fall into your bowl. Be careful so as not to break the egg yolk. If some white hangs off the side and doesn’t seem to come loose, don’t use your fingers to separate it from the shell. The natural body oils in your fingers can interfere with the egg white’s ability to whip up properly. Instead, use the other half of the shell to help pry it loose and slide off into the bowl.
Let as much egg white as you can drip into the bowl below. After you’ve removed all of the white from the shell, place the egg yolk in a separate bowl.
Repeat this process until you’ve separated the number of eggs that your recipe calls for.
Aim to purchase local eggs from pasture-raised, hormone-free chickens. When local isn’t available, look for pasture-raised eggs (preferably organic). For the complete rundown on what to look for on egg labels, check out this article.
Prep Time:1 min
Category:Do It Yourself, How To's, Meal Planning & Prep, Real Food, Food & Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Recipes
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