Search This Blog

19 October 2011

What happens when you . . .

Freeze an egg?
I have a friend who told me that she freezes egg yolks or whites if she has a recipe calling for one part of the egg and not the other, and later uses the frozen part for a different recipe that needs the other egg part. I've wondered for ages what would happen if an egg is frozen whole, and this weekend, I found out.

The shell cracked quite neatly, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Here's what it looked like an hour later:

Then I was able to pull the shell right off, leaving this:

After which I put it in the fridge to finish thawing. I ate it for breakfast, and it was edible, but didn't taste or act very fresh anymore. It spread out a lot instead of being thick and firm and didn't have much flavor. I forgot to take a picture of the cooked egg, being hungry at the time.

After the experiment, I thought to read up on the subject in On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen (2004). McGee on page 83 says: "Eggs can be stored frozen for several months in airtight containers. Remove them from the shell, which would shatter, as its contents expand during freezing." He also notes that the whites freeze better than the yolks or blended whole eggs, which become pasty  from protein aggregation and do not combine well with other ingredients without proper pretreatment by blending with salt, sugar or acid.  I did not notice pastiness in my egg, and I was still able to keep the yolk soft during cooking. Perhaps my egg was not frozen long enough to experience protein aggregation. What happened to my frozen egg sounds more like the deterioration that normally happens to eggs as they age, which McGee describes on page 81; the white was runny and the yolk membrane was delicate and very easily broken.

Here is one more thought from McGee: "Each [chicken] egg is about 3% of the hen's weight, so in a year of laying, she converts about eight times her body weight into eggs. A quarter of her daily energy expenditure goes toward egg-making; a duck puts in half"(page 73). It makes me think about the chicken named Speck that we had for a little while when I was about 12 years old. One she one day started disappearing for all but 20 minutes a day to come and eat. When we finally found where she was hiding, she had a nest and about 20 eggs that she was determined to hatch. We threw them out, since they would just rot, and she persisted in hiding and laying for several months. Isn't biology amazing?

17 October 2011

Apple Harvest Phase 2

I've been able to use up almost all of the apples by making applesauce (that isn't very good because some of it got burnt), dried apple slices (which we'll need more of) and a couple batches of apple muffins, recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. For the second batch of muffins, I used half apples and half carrots and made them miniature and added extra spices. I think they're pretty cute as well as delicious.

dried apples, applesauce, and the remains of the harvest

Laying out slices for drying

miniature carrot-apple muffins

I used my apple corer-peeler-slicer, which I picked up second-hand for $3 after no one got me one for Christmas several years ago, and which I think I will now call "The Spiraler" because it makes them into neat spirals. It looks like this one, but mine is silver in color, instead of red. 
The Spiraler

I saved all the peels and cores and froze them in the event that I need to make jelly. I also used "Fruit Fresh" to prevent discoloration, and it works better than lemon juice, but the price is a little steep.

no brown apple slices here!
If there is a Phase 3 to this project, it will probably be more dried apple slices, we eat a lot of dried fruit in this house. 

06 October 2011

Apple Harvest Phase 1

I had high hopes of preserving a lot of apples yesterday, but I first had to learn if fuji apples would make a good pie. After reading here that they are good for eating fresh and good for a sauce that needs no sugar added, I wasn't sure if making ready-to-bake frozen pies would be a good idea. So I whipped up an apple crisp for breakfast that turned out okay. The apples didn't fall apart or shrink too much, so I was assured that they would bake well in a pie, and there are now two rustic tarts now residing in the freezer.

I like to make this kind of pie because it's easy and quicker than assembling a regular 2-crust pie and you can usually get two almost whole pies out of it instead of just one. There was some leftover pie filling, and this morning it was simmered on the stove and used as a topping for French toast. It was really sweet, so I can certainly be sure that the applesauce I (hope to) make today will not need any extra sugar at all. I am a tiny bit concerned that the pies will be too sweet . . . . . but they'll still get eaten.

04 October 2011

Harvest Time: or I wish I had an orchard

Today I was lucky enough to be able to go to a pick-your-own farm with some friends to pick my own apples. I'm so grateful for friends who let me tag along with them and have a great time with them and their kids.

Since I apparently can't resist fresh produce, and since this year I haven't had a chance to do any jamming yet, I ended up bringing home 60 pounds. I think they are mostly fuji apples, but there might be some cameos too. And they are delicious! This is how apples are meant to be eaten, fresh from the tree.  I'm excited to do something with them, hopefully over the next couple of days there will be dried apples and canned applesauce stored away and maybe even some ready-to-bake pies in the freezer instead of all this . . . . .