Eggs are separated to make the most of the different qualities of the yolk and the white. Egg whites can whip up to 5 times their volume so are useful for adding air to a dish. The yolk is useful for creating an emulsion or as a thickening agent. In baking, eggs are used as emulsifiers and leavening agents which also add stability and structure to a dish.
eggs* (Fresh eggs separate more easily as the yolk is less likely to break.)
Wash your hands to ensure you have no oil on your hands which hinders whipping egg whites. Begin with the 3 bowls and your eggs (or just 2 bowls if only using 1 egg). Crack the egg quickly at the thickest point of the egg by cracking it against the rim of the bowl or the counter.
Over one of the bowls using your thumbs to pry the egg shell into two pieces.
Moving quickly, ensure that the egg yolk remains in one half of the shell (being careful not to break the yolk).
Allow the egg white to fall into the bowl.
Keep gently moving the egg yolk between the two shell halves being careful not to break it but allowing the excess white to run into the bowl.
When the white has been separated from the yolk, add the yolk to the other bowl. Add each white one at a time to the third bowl which will contain all the whites. The use of the first bowl ensures that if you have a bad egg or the yolk breaks that it doesn’t ruin the other egg whites you have already separated.
If any yolk gets into the whites the whites will not whip properly. You can try to fish out bits of egg shell or a drop of egg yolk using half a shell as the egg shell is attracted to egg shell.
Note: No need for the egg whites at this time? You can freeze them in a sealed container. Remember to write down the number of whites in the container.
*Tip: Cold eggs are easier to separate but if the recipe calls for room temperature eggs then separate them beforehand and cover the bowls with cling film while they come up to room temperature.