The Basics: Cooking 101
Just in time for springtime celebrations like Easter and Passover, this Cooking 101 guide will have you expertly whisking, poaching, boiling, and frying eggs in no time.
If the thought of cooking or preparing eggs has you as confused as the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, then this is the guide for you!
There are so many good things to say about eggs, from their nutritional and economic value to their flavor and versatility. However, if you don't know how to prepare them, you may be losing out on their egg-ceptional goodness.
Eggs are used in a variety of dishes, from your favorite breakfast meals to baked goods to soups and to quiches (and don't forget the hardboiled and colored options). When you set out on your quest to buy the perfect egg, there are a few things to consider including which type of egg you prefer to take home.
Hen-picked: Which eggs to buy
There are a variety of options when it comes to buying eggs and your choices include the following:
Organic Eggs - Organic eggs come from hens that roam freely outdoors. These hens have good diets, eating only organic grains, and are not given any chemicals, antibiotics, or hormones.
Free range Eggs - The hens that lay free-range eggs are housed in barns but they have the freedom to roam outside.
Barn laid Eggs - Hens that produce barn-laid eggs are kept indoors in pens, but have room to move freely.
Standard Eggs - The lowest priced eggs are standard eggs. These come from hens that are raised in cages with no room to move around on their own. These hens are fed a high-protein diet and may contain hormones, antibiotics, or chemicals. These hens are kept in very large quantities for maximum output, resulting in lower grocery store prices.
Techniques & tips
There is a method to the madness of cooking and baking with eggs. Keep the following in mind to get you prepping like a true chef:
Beating Eggs - Egg whites and yolks are mixed together to use for scrambled eggs, omelets, or for baking. A whisk is the quickest tool for combining the parts, but a fork will do, too. Use a fast, circular motion and beat until combined.
Separating Yolks and Whites – Often in baking, recipes call for either egg whites or yolks. To separate an egg, crack the middle and use the shells to hold both egg white and egg yolk. Pour the egg from one half to the other until one side holds the yolk and one side holds the white; use one bowl for the whites and one for the yolks. If this fails, look for a gadget called an egg separator (set up to "strain" the eggs), available at most kitchen stores.
Color of Yolks and Shells – Some people think brown eggs are healthier than white, but there is no nutritional difference between the two. The colors are a result of the breed of the hen that laid the egg. Yolks may be paler or brighter in color, the difference depends on what the hen was fed. A pale yolk comes from a diet of lighter color feed and a more vibrant yolk comes from a diet of brighter feed.
Storing Eggs – Always keep eggs refrigerated. After purchase, you can keep eggs for 3 to 5 weeks (the "sell by" date may expire by that point, but the eggs should still be safe to use). Keep eggs in their shells refrigerated, not frozen. Keep the eggs stored in the cardboard container from the store to maximize freshness.