I have never had the opportunity to go to cooking school. When I was younger I was too much of a “bloke” to enrol in a cooking class, and now that I am older, wiser, and more interested in food my working life doesn’t allow me the time to go to a cooking class. This doesn’t mean that I cannot learn the basics. Thanks to the information super-highway, it is now easy to gather up the knowledge to teach yourself the basics of preparing a good meal. So I thought I would take some time each month and teach myself about how best to use some of my favourite ingredients.
So this month I start I would begin with eggs, the ultimate fast food that almost everybody loves.
Lesson 1: Testing for freshness
I hate to admit it but Domesticated Mum is the main shopper around our house. Occasionally when I need an ingredient for a dish, or I forget to put something on Domesticated Mum’s shopping list I venture into the realms of the local supermarket, but normally all the food brought into the house comes via Domesticated Mum.
This means that I am not always sure how long things have been in the refrigerator for which can be a dangerous thing, especially with an ingredient like an egg. So before I begin cooking with eggs, I thought I should find out how to tell if the egg is safe to eat in the first place.
- The easiest way to test for freshness obviously is to check the use-by date. And also by giving it a sniff once it has been removed from the shell.
- Another easy method is to place the egg into a glass of water.
- If it sinks to the bottom and lies on its side it is spanking-fresh.
- If it sinks but lies on an angle, the egg is about a week old.
- If it sinks but stands upright on its pointed end, the egg is about two weeks old.
- If it floats, the egg is stale and should be discarded.
- Break the egg onto a flat plate. Most of the white should stand up in a plump cushion around the yolk. If it is watery and runs away from the yolk, the egg is old and should be discarded.
Is straight-out-of-the-chicken always best?
Not always. If you are poaching or frying eggs try to use the freshest eggs possible as you want the whites to set tightly around the yolks rather than running all over the place. For hard-boiled eggs with a smooth finish, eggs that are about a week old are better because they are easier to peel. The whites of week old eggs are also better for making meringues, as they form stiffer peaks.