What’s all this about “aged eggs”?

This is something else you hear an awful lot about in regard to macarons. What we call “aged eggs” French pastry chefs simply call “eggs”, since they tend not to refrigerate theirs. They just get them very fresh, use them relatively quickly, and order more. Here we’re a little more uptight about maintaining egg freshness, which I don’t think is all bad. However it does put us at something of a disadvantage when it comes to whipping up egg foams.

Why? Because as eggs age, their whites get runnier. This doesn’t effect they way they taste or cook up, but it does affect the way they whip. Thin liquids can simply be agitated more briskly than thick ones. A whip will cut through a bowl full of water with much more force than it will through a bowl full of honey, if you follow me. That extra force, when applied to egg proteins, means a higher froth.

Being a skeptic by nature, I’m not totally convinced that aged eggs make that big a difference in a macaron batter. After all, part of making a macaron batter is popping a good deal of those bubbles. However aged egg advocates may have a point in that foams made from old eggs probably have a higher proportion of small bubbles in them, and those may make a contribution to the macaron’s subtle rise.

Age your egg whites by putting them in a bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap, and leaving the bowl out on the counter for about 24 hours. At room temperature, eggs age one day per hour compared to how they’d age in a refrigerator. By morning those whites will be good and runny, but will not have spoiled. Oh, and don’t fall for the myth that you can achieve the same effect by microwaving your whites for ten seconds or so. That may warm the whites, but won’t have any effect at all on their viscosity.

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6 Responses to What’s all this about “aged eggs”?

  1. Vicki says:

    Hi! I was reading about on macaron-ish sites and have come across that aged macarons were egg whites to be left uncovered at room temperature so that the water evaporates, leaving the egg whites thick and gel-like. However, I’ve made macarons the French way, keeping my whites covered at room temp and they’ve turned out fine. So, what is the difference when the whites are uncovered and gel-like?

    • joepastry says:

      Honestly I’ve never heard of that before. Now me, I’d be hesitant to any egg whites that were left out long enough hat they’d reduce noticeably…I’d think it would take a might long time. But in fact it’s thinner, more watery whites that make better foams for the reasons I outlined in the post. Thin whites whip up better because they offer less resistance to the whip. No reason to change methods — especially if the one you have is working so well

      Thanks for the email, Vicki!

  2. Tara says:

    hi joe
    thanks for the tutorial.as always you are our number one refernce guru.my sister and i wanted to ask you,if aged egg whites produce even smaller bubbles,is it possible to implement this tecnique for chiffon cakes for instance? or will the cake collapse?what do you think?
    thank you one more time
    big hellos to the family
    tara&dina

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Tara! Nice to hear from you again! To answer your question, aged eggs will help with all kinds of foams, including chiffon cakes. They’re standard in French kitchens. Let me know how the cake turns out! All the best to your family,

      - Joe

  3. Diogo says:

    Btw, joe, whenever I find myself without aged whites and want to make macarons, what I do is get the whites through a fine sieve. I crack the eggs, put the whites on the sieve, and let them drip whilst I get the other ingredients ready. This way you separate the liquidy part of the whites from the gel like part.

    You do waste a bit of whites of course, but if you really feel like making macarons NOW and you’re a stickler for details, it is a good way to go! =)

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