Back to basics: Eggs
Eggs can be cooked in minutes and are the perfect base to create endless healthy and economical dishes. Sarah swain takes us through boiling, scrambling and omelettes.
- Eggs are best stored in the fridge as their freshness deteriorates at warmer temperatures. Eggs are best stored in the carton.
- Store them pointed end downwards to prevent breakage and minimise dehydration.
- Eggs are porous and will absorb strong flavours and smells, so store them well away from strong-smelling foods.
- Egg yolks placed in a container and covered with water to prevent them from drying out will keep in the fridge for up to two days.
- Egg whites can be put in a covered container and will keep for up to two days when stored in the fridge.
- Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge and used within two days.
Testing for freshness
- To test for freshness, put an egg in a bowl or glass of water.
- If it sinks and lies on its side, it is fresh.
- If it floats with its rounded end on the surface of the water, it is stale.
- If an egg floats in the middle of the water with its rounded end up, it is not stale but it is probably two or three weeks old.
- Remove the eggs from the fridge in advance so they are at room temperature before cooking; this will help prevent cracking.
- Use a slotted spoon to place eggs in boiling water and take them out.
- Once eggs are in boiling water, reduce heat and cover.
- Once cooked to your liking, scoop out eggs and immediately place in cold water to prevent further cooking.
- To shell hard-boiled eggs, as soon as you remove them from the boiling water, crack the shells all over with a spoon and immediately plunge the eggs into a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes. This helps stop the dark circle forming around the yolk and makes eggs easier to shell.
How do you like your boiled eggs?
|Runny yolk and set white||Cook 5 minutes|
|Less runny yolk and set white||Cook 6 minutes|
|Almost-set yolk, but with a little stickiness (soft-boiled)||Cook 7 minutes|
|Soft-set yolk (soft-boiled)||Cook 8 minutes|
|Hard-boiled||Cook 9 minutes|
- For best results, the eggs should be well beaten with a fork before cooking so the yolks and whites are well mixed.
- Use a non-stick pan and a wooden spoon.
- Use a low-fat spread suitable for cooking. I use Logicol.
- Beat 3 eggs together with 2 tablespoons trim milk.
- Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons low-fat spread spread in a non-stick pan and run it around to coat the base of the pan.
- Pour in the beaten eggs and cook them gently, stirring every 20 seconds, ideally with a wooden spoon.
- The eggs will start to scramble. Continue stirring every 20 seconds until you have the eggs at your desired consistency.
- Take the eggs off the heat when they are still a little wet if you like your scrambled eggs very moist, as they will finish cooking in their own heat while on the way to the table. Season with black pepper.
- For 3 eggs (to serve 2 people) use 1 1/2 teaspoons low-fat spread. Beat the eggs thoroughly so that the yolk and whites are well mixed.
- Melt the low-fat spread in a non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat. Make sure the hob is heating the entire pan base.
- When the spread begins to foam, add the eggs. Shake the pan to distribute the eggs evenly.
- After 40-45 seconds the eggs will begin to set on the base in the centre first. Continue to cook over a moderate heat while the entire base becomes set.
- To test to see if the base is cooked all over, use a palette knife to lift at the edges.
- At this stage you can add any sliced vegetables you like to create a vegetable omelette. Scatter over evenly.
- Cook for a further 30 seconds, then use the knife to fold one side of the omelette into the middle. Fold in the other side and serve.
A poached egg on toast makes a perfect quick, healthy light meal or breakfast choice. Here's how to get a perfect poached egg:
- Fill a frying pan with 10cm of water and add a teaspoon of vinegar (this helps the egg keep its shape).
- Bring the water to a boil. Break the egg into a shallow cup or dish with a lip for easy sliding.
- Slide the egg into the pan. As soon as the water returns to a boil, cover the pan. Turn off the heat and stand for about 2 minutes, or until a light film of white has set over the yolk. Do not lift the lid until after 2 minutes as the steam helps cook the egg (a glass lid will make this easier).
- Lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon.
Whisking egg whites
- For perfect results with egg whites, make sure the bowl and beaters are completely grease-free.
- Place egg whites in a large bowl. Allow them to come to room temperature.
- Begin whisking on a slow beating speed, until the egg whites begin to froth.
- Increase the speed to 2 or 3. After 30-40 seconds, increase to a higher speed. Continuing whisking until you have reached the desired thickness.
- Soft peaks are ideal for an egg white omelette. Stiff egg whites are ideal for meringues.
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