Egg White Foam – Tips and Tricks
Foamed egg whites are used in many recipes, especially low carb recipes, because they provide leavening (fluffiness) without requiring flour. For a typical usage, see our Japanese Cheesecake Recipe, or our Meringue Recipes.
- Beat at room temperature – Eggs are easier to separate when cold, because yolks break more easily at room temperature. But egg whites should be brought to room temperature before foaming. This is because egg white protein is more elastic at room temperature, so they fluff faster and bigger, with a finer texture at room temperature.
- Even a trace of fat will interfere with properly whipping egg whites – Fat from leftover oil or butter in the mixing bowl, egg yolks from partially separated eggs, or even incompletely rinsed detergent can prevent your foam from forming. Even oil residue on the egg beaters must be cleaned before starting. As a final safety check, you can rinse the bowl and beaters with a mild acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, which will also help to stabilize the final foam.
- Seriously, use an electric beater. Using a whisk is great if you’re a French chef in the 1600’s. Otherwise, the forearm workout isn’t worth the pain and the decreased fluffiness. Electric.
Stabilizing the Foam
- Adding an acid during step 2 below, when the whites are just beginning to become frothy, can stabilize the foam. Use about 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar per egg white, or about a quarter teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.
- Sugar also helps to stabilize the beaten egg foams. When adding sugar, add very slowly at the side of the bowl while the whites are being whipped, to avoid deflating the whites. Generally, it’s best to add sugar at the “soft peak” stage.
- Adding water can increase the volume of egg white foam, but too much can decrease the stability of the foam.
What kind of mixing bowl?
- Using a copper mixing bowl allows copper ions to react chemically with the conalbumin in the egg whites, which helps form a more stable, more moist foam. This can prevent you from needing to use cream of tartar.
- Before using a copper mixing bowl, scour the bowl with a quarter cup of vinegar or lemon juice and a tablespoon of salt, then rinse it and dry thoroughly before beginning.
- Never use plastic or wood bowls, because they are porous, and can retain fat from previous uses.
- Never use an aluminum bowl, because the aluminum reacts with egg whites, causing them to turn slightly gray.