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Old Cook's Tales Feed

July 16, 2012

Old Cook's Tale: You Can't Whip Egg Whites With a Speck of Yolk in Them

You can't whip egg whites if there is even a tiny speck of yolk in them. It is known.

According to the common wisdom, that tiny drop of yolk in the photo is enough to stop a bowl of egg whites in their tracks and reduce them to a weepy, watery mess.

Ask any baker and they will tell you this is true. They may go on to recite the rest of the basics, described here by King Arthur Flour:

  • The bowl and beaters must be clean and grease-free.
  • Use a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl, not plastic.
  • Egg whites will whip higher if they’re at room temperature before beating.

Admonitions to ensure everything is dry, lest a drop of water render the whites too runny to whip, are often included.

Truth be told, this isn't a particularly onerous list. If you wash your dishes, they won't be greasy; separating eggs is not rocket surgery; most of us have glass or stainless bowls; and a few minutes in warm tap water fixes cold eggs.

Still, it bothered me. Such exacting instructions coupled with dire warnings if not complied with exactly.

Continue reading "Old Cook's Tale: You Can't Whip Egg Whites With a Speck of Yolk in Them" »

December 15, 2011

Debunk of Day: Potato Fixes Too Salty Soup

Seems like some old wive's cook's tales just won't die. Like the one about adding a potato to overly salted soup to remove salt and make it palatable. Old-cooks-talesIt shows up more than once twice three times four times in the first twenty of Babble's current list of how to fix food failures leading me to think that maybe people aren't actually doing the things they are suggesting.

I mean on the surface, it seems like it should work: the potato sucks up a little water and dissolved salt...why wouldn't it selectively suck all the dissolved salt out of the liquid. (Oh wait, see that's absurd on the face of it...)

Rather than calling bullshit on a crowded twitter—because that just makes people unhappy—I set out to test the theory. I wasn't sure I had a tool better than simply tasting it to check the water but it turns out that my refractometer, which lets me measure the sugar content of fruit, also measures salinity. Who knew?

Not to ruin the suspense but no, potato in oversalted soup does not work.

Continue reading "Debunk of Day: Potato Fixes Too Salty Soup" »

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