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Old 04-06-2014, 03:42 AM   #1
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How to stop egg white foaming in water

Hi, I'm new to this forum so apologies if the answer to this question has been aired before.

I cook poached eggs in a normal egg poacher, the utensil that has four pots suspended in a metal plate and placed over boiling water in a pan below. Sometimes, some of the albumen (egg white) escapes from the egg, trickles through the venting holes in the metal plate and enters the boiling water below. The result? Foam everywhere, ruining the eggs and necessitating a restart.

I suspect that there is something in the kitchen - vinegar, salt, whatever - that I can use to neutralise the foaming thus allowing the eggs to continue cooking as normal. Albumen is mostly water plus a few proteins and it's obviously the protein that creates the foam. What will neutralise the protein and prevent the foam reaction?

Any ideas?

Ben

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Old 04-06-2014, 06:00 AM   #2
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Footnote to my question.

I don’t want a solution based on an alternative way of poaching eggs. I know about techniques based on dropping eggs into a saucepan of vinegar-laced boiling or near-boiling swirling water. I want to know how to stop the water from foaming if I accidentally get some of the albumen into the boiling water when I use my poacher. I like my poacher!

Ben
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenBennetts View Post
Footnote to my question.

I don’t want a solution based on an alternative way of poaching eggs. I know about techniques based on dropping eggs into a saucepan of vinegar-laced boiling or near-boiling swirling water. I want to know how to stop the water from foaming if I accidentally get some of the albumen into the boiling water when I use my poacher. I like my poacher!

Ben
i have an egg poacher like yours. The egg is foaming because you are boiling the water to fast. Simply lower the temperature, so that the water is still boiling, but not so hard. I don't put the egg-cups in until the water is boiling. That way, I usually don't end up over-filling the cups, and the butter remains cold so that it coats the cup when I put the egg into it. I also add a bit of S&P to the cups before adding the egg, then season very lightly on top. One more thing, my egg cups won't comfortably hold extra-large, or jumbo eggs. So I never cook anything bigger than large grade.

As for other poaching methods, that you don't want to hear, if you bring the water to a boil, seasoned with S&P, and then back it off until it is still, but hot, you can drop the eggs directly in, without vinegar, or swirling the water. Imply use a butter-coated ladle to hold the egg, dip it and the egg into the water and hold just until the white starts turning white, then release into the water. The egg will remain in one mass, and come out so delicate, with perfect seasoning, and done to the stage you like your egg. It makes an amazing poached egg. I hated eggs poached in water, and tried the vinegar and swirl method, and others, and didn't know about seasoning the water. Until I tried the method I just described, the poaching pan eggs were my all time favorite eggs. Now, they are in 2nd place.

I believe that name for the way I poach my eggs is - coddled eggs.

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:40 AM   #4
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Update - I just looked up "coddled egg" here - Coddled egg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
By definition, if you lower the temp of your poaching pan water so that it no longer boils, you are making a coddled egg. And yes, this will prevent your egg white from foaming. I guess my water immersion technique is a poached egg after all.

Use either a coddled egg, or a poached egg to make Eggs Benedict. It will change your life for the better.

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Old 04-06-2014, 09:19 AM   #5
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Slow down, you move too fast.......Chief is right. Lower your heat, what you are after is to see the tiny bubbles in the water under the cups just playing nicely and quietly! It's also possible that you are using good big eggs that are a bit large for the cups in your pan? So, either get med. or small ( ....no, don't do that ) or try the other method that Chief suggests which truly works like a dream believe me.
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Old 04-06-2014, 03:26 PM   #6
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OK, so I'm nit-picking but this discussion is not about poached eggs. Strictly speaking it's about oeufs en cocotte which are a different kettle of fish (to mix metaphors).

Poaching involves the eggs, fish, chicken or whatever being cooked gently in the liquid not in containers above it.

No probs if oeufs en cocotte are what you want. I agree with the above post which said you need either smaller eggs or larger individual containers - oeufs en cocotte are traditionally cooked in little porcelain ramekins (or I use those glass ramekins that come with GU desserts - waste not, want not!) in a bain marie or water bath with a lid, either on top of the stove or in the oven. IMO The top of the stove is easier as you can keep an eye on them. I make several of them them for dinner party "starters" in a Spanish covered electric pan with a glass lid that I bought for making paella (like this
Buffalo CC729 Electric Multipan - but a lidded frying pan or skillet would do fine)
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Old 04-06-2014, 06:42 PM   #7
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You can give it a French name if you want. I even agree that what is being made in the pan with the cups isn't really a poached egg. But here's a similar pan to what I own - Demeyere Egg Poacher | Bloomingdale's

All pans I've ever seen of this type, any brand name you choose, is called an egg poaching pan. From the definition that I found earlier, it more resembles a pan for making coddled eggs, if you're using the the name from the British Aisles.

Anyway you look at it, the answer was given to the op, use smaller eggs to prevent spillovers, and lower the stove temperature. The other info was just that, added information.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:52 AM   #8
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Thanks to all of the above who have replied. I have a few follow-on comments, and a question.

First, I have tried reducing the boil rate of the water once the foam starts to appear but to no avail. Once the albumen is in the water, that’s it. No amount of fiddling with the gas flow works. The only thing to do is curse and throw the eggs and water away and start again.

Second, I am partial to poached duck eggs. They are larger than chicken eggs, as pointed out by Chief Longwind and MenuMaker, and they are often the cause of the problem because the poacher pots are not designed for anything over a standard size egg. Now I eat my duck eggs boiled, not poached!

Third, I am a Brit living in the UK. (I need to work out how to add UK after Fareham in my profile.) My wife and I used to own a 16th century farmhouse and we populated the house with ancient things including a couple of Victorian egg coddlers. Egg coddlers are not ramekins. An egg coddler is a small china pot with a metal screw top lid. The egg is broken into the pot; the lid is screwed down, tight; and the whole kit and caboodle is fully immersed in rolling boiling water for around 7 or 8 minutes. The coddled egg, when ready, is superb.

When we moved from the farm, we either gave or threw away the coddlers. I regret that now. A coddler would have taken a full size duck egg. I’ve not worked out how to insert an image in these replies but if you google Royal Worcester Egg Coddlers and switch to Images you will see what I’m talking about. We owned the Victorian equivalent of the coddlers with cherries on, called Evesham.

Fourth, thanks for all the alternative methods of poaching/coddling/oeufs-en-cocotting the eggs. I will try some of the techniques.

Last, I appreciate the answers you have all given me but nobody has yet answered my question – what can I put in the water to stop the foaming once the albumen has entered it?

Ben
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:20 AM   #9
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I figured out how to say where I am located and how to post an image of myself. I'm posing with a medieval cross called Fat Betty. She's located on a long distance trail called the Coast-to-Coast in the north of England. (I'm a long-distance walker when I'm not poaching eggs.)

Now I need to find out how to upload an image from my laptop hard drive into a posting.
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:13 AM   #10
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If you break an egg open on a plate, you'll see three distinct parts to the egg. The yolk, the thick white, and the thin white. As an egg ages, the thick egg white, which mounds up around the yolk, slowly breaks down into a thin, watery, less viscous egg white. It's this thinner part that's causing your difficulty. When it gets in the water, it doesn't hold together in a mass like the thicker white does. It dissipates and clouds up the water as you're observing.

Kenji Alt did a good article on poaching eggs on The Food Lab at Serious Eats. He breaks the egg into a fine mesh strainer, and rolls is around a bit. The loose, watery part of the white will drain away. Now when you lower the egg into the water, it holds together as a mass. Although he wasn't addressing this problem specifically, a side effect is that the thin white isn't there to cloud the water or create those unsightly strings of egg white floating around.

Since trying Kenji's method, I just strain, drop in water, and they're good to go every time.

An adjunct to this......I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that in parts of Europe, it's not standard practice to refrigerate eggs. The thick white breaks done much more quickly in to thin white at room temperature. If you don't already, try storing fresh eggs in the fridge. It may also help. Cold eggs poach more nicely.
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