Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poached Eggs

While I can't call myself an expert chef, I do claim to dabble in the culinary arts. I have always loved to cook, and my favorite meal (besides dessert) has always been breakfast. For the most part I think this is because I love baking, and breakfast has so many baked goods associated with it (muffins, coffee cake, pancakes, waffles, bread, scones).

With a love of carbs, eggs have never been my first choice as a breakfast option, but I have a friend and fellow amateur chef/blogger who decided to experiment with eggs. We decided to poach eggs, as that was something neither of us had tried before and looked just challenging enough to be fun.

The general idea of a poached egg is you crack an egg into a pot of hot water, and wait until the egg is cooked just enough to be delicious. We found a few different tips, that (no surprise!) have chemistry behind them if you look closely!

  1. Push the egg whites together to help the poached egg come out in one piece
    • An egg (especially the egg whites) is made up primarily of proteins, which are long molecules all folded up on themselves due to weak bonds within the molecule. When the proteins are heated up, these weak bonds are broken and the protein unfolds, but stronger bonds are formed as the different protein molecules all connect. By pushing the egg whites together, you are helping to create more of those stronger bonds, which keep the cooked egg together.
    • Another fun way to do this was to swirl the water before pouring in the cracked egg. The egg will swirl with the water until it settles down, and the centripetal force of the swirling motion pushes the egg whites together for you into a nice little egg packet.
  2. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the boiling water to help the egg stick together.
    • The vinegar, like the heat, will break the original weak bonds of the molecule, and make the protein unfold and ready to form stronger bonds. By adding vinegar to the pot of water, when the egg is added, the proteins will be able to stick together faster, and keep it from separating into a white, stringy, watery mess.
  3. Heat the water to almost boiling, then cook for 4-5 minutes
    • If the water is too hot or you cook the egg too long, then the protein molecules in the egg whites form too many of those strong bonds to each other. When these bonds form, they push water out of the egg, which is what causes the egg to solidify. If too much water is pushed out of the egg, like when the egg is heated too long or too much, then it becomes tough and rubbery.
Poached eggs taste delicious (reminiscent of a yummy cheese sauce), are healthy, and not too hard to make. We ate ours over toast and loved it! Next time you are feeling adventurous at breakfast in the kitchen, I'd recommend a poached egg--it will surprise you!

1 comment:

  1. My friend posted on her blog about our poached egg experiments- you can hear her side of the story at