If you need to separate your eggs into whites and yolks, don’t throw one half away. Both can be used in a variety of recipes.
If you’re a keen baker, you'll be familiar with the process of fastidiously separating eggs. The binary characteristics of egg yolks and whites mean they can be used in very different ways. Translucent whites offer lightness but also body to desserts like meringues and macaroons, while deep yellow yolks are rich and oily, making them a perfect binding agent. A lot of recipes require one but not the other, so if you’re faced with a bowl of leftover whites or yolks, try using them up with one of our suggestions.
A note on storing egg whites
Our home economist Steffi says egg whites will keep in the fridge for up to two days, but they can also be frozen for up the three months. Put them into freezer bags or individual ice cube trays so you can use as many as you need. Label them carefully, noting the number of whites – once you’ve defrosted them they can’t go back in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using.
A note on storing egg yolks
Egg yolks will also keep for two days in the fridge but dry out easily, especially when freezing, so we don’t recommend it. Add a little water to them when storing so they stay lubricated.
Always try to buy British Lion-branded eggs as they are protected against salmonella. Be aware of use-by dates and also consider whether your yolk or white is fully cooked if serving to pregnant women and those with special dietary needs.
Top five ways of using up egg whites
The ultimate egg white recipe, fluffy meringues with crispy outsides are easy to achieve and usually freezable, meaning you can have a batch on standby for last minute desserts. Try our rainbow meringues with fruit and flavoured cream, crumbled into ice cream or sundaes, or stirred into Eton mess,
Create an authentic shiny top to burger buns and bagels with a light layer of egg white. As shown in this Edd Kimber bagel recipe, not only will it give a professional seal, it also allows seeds to stick easily to the top – try sesame, poppy or sunflower. This one is ideal if you have only one or two whites.
Achieve a cartoon-like fluffy American cake frosting by whipping your egg whites then stabilising them with liquid glucose. If you’re not such a technical baker, try them whipped with coconut and sugar as a super light accompaniment to jellies and other set desserts.
The stiff nature of whisked egg white means it’s the perfect replacement for non-vegetarian gelatine in set mousses. Go for classic chocolate, or replace cream with yogurt in a lighter version. You could even knock up a savoury version to get your guests talking.
Surprisingly, only a couple of egg whites are required to make a whole batch of these patisserie-style macaroons. An electric whisk will be useful, but good old elbow grease applied at length is just as good. Use a little of the macaroon mixture to hold down the four corners of your baking paper and a bottle lid to draw templates for your biscuits – just remember to turn the paper over to avoid the pencil marks spoiling your bake.
Follow our video guide on how to master this French patisserie classic:
Top five ways to use up egg yolks
Making your own custard can be easy, but there are a few stumbling blocks to be aware of. Firstly, don’t add the sugar to your yolks too quickly as it may start to ‘cook’ the yolk, and also take care when adding the hot cream – scrambled eggs is not the desired effect. Keep a gentle heat, stir slowly and it should be smooth sailing.
Wobbly, anemic, shop-bought mayonnaise is a far cry from the real deal. Usually only one yolk is required as the rest of the mayo is made up of lemon juice, a touch of mustard and oil. There’s no need for a fancy blender either, as our video guide to making mayonnaise proves. Try adding watercress, tarragon or chives. This basic method can be applied to making béarnaise and hollandaise sauce, too.
While traditional Italian recipes usually call for the whole egg, using just a yolk in your carbonara sauce will make it rich, glossy and less likely to be grainy. Use the traditional method of mixing the yolks with Parmesan cheese, lots of pepper and, if you like, a touch of cream, then pour it onto the hot pasta, stirring carefully to coat the pasta without scrambling the eggs.
Mince can sometimes be stubborn when it comes to holding neatly in meatball or burger shapes. Just one egg yolk will improve the situation considerably without having any effect on the finished flavour.
Egg yolks can add depth and richness to various dough and pastry recipes. Doughnuts are made from firm dough that needs to keep its shape when fried quickly and our traditional recipe chooses to ditch the egg whites. You can also just use the yolks in shortcrust pastry, and don’t forget to finish off your bake – egg yolk is a traditional glazing agent that works well on sweet breads like brioche and also puff pastry pies.
If you’re watching your fat intake, an LA-style, egg white omelette is lean and light, plus if you finish it off under a grill you should achieve a souffléd finish. If going fully yolk-free leaves you cold, play around with ratios – adding a couple of whites to a standard omelette will offer aeration. If you’re feeling decadent, you could try making an egg yolk omelette, but we recommend adding a splash of milk to loosen it up a mite.
Do you have any hints and tips for using up surplus egg whites or yolks? Share your ideas with us below...