No More Shells
Like all of us, I am always happy to find a product that makes life easier without forcing me to compromise on quality. Powdered egg whites have been used commercially for years, but they have only recently begun to show up in supermarkets.
For a fair test, I made two versions of this month's Desserts column -- Mexican Strawberry Meringue Torte, one using fresh egg whites, and the other using powdered egg whites.
I used Deb El Foods' "Just Whites," which are packaged in a resealable can (same size as a 1-pound shortening can). I winced at the $4.99 price tag when I made my purchase but, after reading the label (one can is the equivalent of 4-3/4 dozen egg whites) and did the arithmetic, I realized the potential savings. I say "potential," because there's no economy unless the product performs.
Powdered egg whites have several advantages over fresh:
- If you are all thumbs when it comes to separating the yolk from the white, no more struggling.
- In recipes that call for egg whites and no yolks, there is no waste.
- No waiting for egg whites to come to room temperature.
- If you worry about the possibility of salmonella contamination, the pasteurization process removes any doubts.
- Shelf life is infinitely greater -- you need not ask yourself how fresh your eggs are.
- If you are searching for ways to reduce fat and cholesterol in dishes traditionally calling for whole eggs, like quiche and some cakes and muffins, egg whites can fill the bill.
"Just Whites" contains nothing but pasteurized dried egg whites -- no fat, cholesterol, artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives. Even after the can is opened, it need not be refrigerated.
"Just Whites" is simple to use: For each egg white you need, use 2 level teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons of warm water. For my meringue torte I needed 6 egg whites, which amounted to 1/4 cup of "Just Whites" and 3/4 cup of water (there's a handy chart on the can). The directions require that the powder and the liquid be stirred together for a few minutes to allow enough time for water absorption. I had a pang of doubt at first because the powder just sat on top of the water, but after a few minutes of gentle whisking, the mixture combined well without any lumps.
Now to create meringue: I whipped the "Just Whites" the same way I whip fresh whites, adding the cream of tartar, flavorings and sugar at the same stages. I was not disappointed. The "Just Whites" were equal in every way -- volume, density, snowy white appearance and taste. And they behaved the same way when baked -- no appreciable shrinkage.
Even though my good experience with "Just Whites" left me planning to make them a staple in my pantry, I will continue using fresh egg whites for many dishes. A Lemon Meringue Pie, for instance, requires three whole, separated eggs: three yolks for the filling, and three whites for the meringue. But I will find many uses for "Just Whites."
If you have read CookWise, the incredibly enlightening cookbook by Shirley O. Corriher, (see review in The Lone Star Book Store, Cookbooks Section), you know that egg whites can be added to cake batter to lighten the texture. This product is also a natural for chiffon-type pies. The manufacturer, Deb-El Foods Corporation, 2 Papetti Plaza, Elizabeth, NJ, 07206, will provide a free recipe booklet to anyone sending a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Here are links to some recipes in which powdered egg whites will shine: