Whatever you do, don’t throw them out!
As I have mentioned, it is Passover this week and kosher-for-Passover desserts are a whole crazy category unto themselves. Meringues happen to be an extremely popular Passover dessert, as indeed is any recipe in which the leavening occurs through whipping egg whites into a foamy frenzy. My friend Rowena, of the fashion and lifestyle blog She She Shoppers, made a beautiful Pavlova for her family’s Passover Seder dessert. I myself made a semi-successful batch of Pesadich brownies last week that consisted of sugar, cocoa powder, four egg whites and not much else.
When I was making the brownies, I saved the four leftover yolks in a plastic container and stashed them in the fridge. Why did I do that? As I have said before, while I am not a frugal person in most areas of my life, I hate waste in the kitchen. And moreover, I know that extra egg yolks can come in handy. A few days later, faced with rapidly aging leftover egg yolks, I decided to make lemon curd. (Actually, the lemon curd recipe that I use, which comes from my friend Marisa’s canning blog Food in Jars, calls for six egg yolks. So, in order to use up the four leftover egg yolks, I had to separate two more eggs and ended up with two leftover egg whites, but let’s not focus on that right now.) I mentioned this in passing to Rowena who responded mournfully that she wished she had had my lemon curd recipe because the leftover egg yolks from her Pavlova had ended up in the trash.
Rowena’s comment made me realize that perhaps people don’t realize all the different uses for egg yolks and egg whites. Hence, this post. There is no reason to throw out leftover egg whites or egg yolks and I hope that after reading this post, you won’t ever do it again. I am not a strident environmentalist nor I am a frugal penny-pincher. But I am a cook who likes to get the most out of her ingredients and I am experienced enough to know how to do that. With a little bit of knowledge and imagination, anyone can do the same.
If this kind of instinctive cooking is something that you are interested in learning more about, I highly recommend a new book by Tamar Adler called An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. I am in the middle of this book and I am so excited about it that I have been highlighting favorite passages like I am in a college English seminar. If you are in a cooking rut, or just want to cook more mindfully, this book is for you. She even has a whole chapter on eggs: poached eggs, boiled eggs, pasta with eggs, leftovers with eggs. It’s brilliant.
Egg Yolk Ideas
- Make lemon, lime or other citrus curd (recipe below)
- Lots of rich doughs call for egg yolks only, such as shortbreads or babkas.
- Add egg yolks to fresh ricotta cheese and chopped spinach as a filling for stuffed shells, manicotti or lasagna. The yolks will thicken the mixture and add nutrition. Season with a dash of nutmeg and salt and pepper.
- Add egg yolks to ground beef or ground turkey for making hamburgers or meatloaf. The yolks will act as a binder.
- This is ambitious, but one of the sexiest things you can do with leftover egg yolks is make homemade mayonnaise, or, if you want to get really fancy, aioli.
This recipe comes from Marisa McClellan of the canning blog Food in Jars. Her cookbook of the same name will be out in May. I can’t wait!
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
Zest from the juiced lemons
In a small, heavy bottom pot, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Add the lemon juice and cook gently over medium heat. Stir continually for 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat as you go to to make sure that the custard does not boil. (If it does, the eggs will curdle and it will be nasty.) The curd is done when it has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Drop in the butter and stir until melted.
Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve set over a heat-proof bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg. Do not be tempted to skip this step because biting into to a little piece of scrambled egg in the otherwise smooth curd is — you guessed it — nasty. Whisk in the zest.
Pour the curd into a glass jar for keeping. I find that this recipe makes a scant pint. Lemon curd is delicious on pound cake, scones, stirred into yogurt or as a dip for berries.
Egg White Ideas
- Any kind of meringue. You can make meringue kiss cookies with just egg whites and sugar — they’re a very low-calorie treat for the dieters in your life. Here is an old recipe of mine for chocolate mint meringues. If you are entertaining, you can make a large meringue to fill with berries and cream. A Pavlova is a good example of this kind of meringue dessert. You can also make a meringue topping for a pie or bar cookies. Meringues are pretty easy to master if you find a good cookbook explanation of the technique, like the one in the Joy of Cooking. I find the most important thing is to make sure the bowl you use to whip the egg whites is scrupulously clean and grease-free and add the sugar gradually.
- Often light desserts such as angel food cake call for egg whites only.
- Scramble with low-fat cheese for a healthy and filling breakfast. Or add egg whites to a whole egg to stretch your scrambled eggs out while still getting the richness of a yolk.
- Egg whites can be frozen. One clever way to do this is to freeze individual egg whites in compartments of an ice cube tray. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t even own an ice cube tray because the freezer makes my ice cubes. But I do have a little freezer tray for making homemade baby food (ha!) so I use that.
- You can use egg whites to make dough stick together, such as when you are making a ravioli, a wonton or even a filled cookie.
That should get you started. If you have any other clever uses for just egg yolks or just the whites, leave them in the comments.