Feeling scrambled? Let's sort the egg truths from the little white lies
Forget everything you've been told about cooking eggs – we've cracked the truth.
1. THE MYTH: You should keep eggs in the fridge
THE TRUTH: It's a debate that will probably rattle on for as long as there are humans, eggs and fridges, but the truth is this: British eggs have a very low risk of salmonella, so chill. Keeping them in the cupboard is fine – they don't need to go in the fridge. And foodies everywhere agree that cooking with eggs at room temperature gives a better rise to your sponge anyway.
But if you still insist on being Team Fridge, ignore the built-in egg rack and pop them on a shelf instead. All the opening and closing of the door will shake them up, thin the egg whites, expose them to temperature fluctuations and do them more harm than a quiet life in the cupboard.
2. THE MYTH: Fresh eggs are best
THE TRUTH: It's true that for poaching, frying and meringues you want the freshest egg you can find. Crouch near a hen if you need to. But for the perfect boiled egg, it's actually better to use an egg that's over a week old; the egg white comes away from the membrane inside the shell, making it much easier to peel for that all-important egg and cress sarnie.
Check the freshness of your egg by seeing if it sinks (fresh!) or floats (bad!) in water. The perfect egg for boiling will sink but stand upright in the bowl, rather than lying on its side. Very scientific.
3. THE MYTH: You can't make scrambled eggs in the microwave
THE TRUTH: Look, we're not saying they'll be the best scrams you've ever eaten – but when it's a choice between cheat's eggs and no eggs at all, Mr Microwave is your pal. Just whisk well before you pop them in, stir halfway through, and err on the side of caution; they'll keep cooking for a few seconds after the ping.
4. THE MYTH: You should never add milk to scrambled eggs
THE TRUTH: The mere suggestion that you might want to bulk out your eggs with a few drops of milk is enough to get you kicked out of some kitchens... but actually, adding a spoonful or two of whole milk can give you softer, more velvety scrams. Likewise a dash of cream, or a dollop of crème fraîche.
Some cooks even swear by adding water, but don't tell anyone you got that from us.
5. THE MYTH: Egg shells are magnetic
THE TRUTH: It's true that one of the niftiest ways to fish out broken eggshell is using another piece of eggshell. But that's not because the egg has a magical forcefield that attracts its own kind. Sorry. It's just because the thin, curved edge of the shell pierces the thick egg white easily.
Not magic. Still nifty.
6. THE MYTH: White eggs are better
THE TRUTH: Finding white eggs might feel like your golden ticket to a fancy breakfast, but the truth is there's virtually no difference in taste or nutrition between white and brown – they're just the product of different breeds. Brown-feathered hens lay brown eggs, while white hens tend to lay white ones. These days brown hens are just much more common in the UK. In the US they have the opposite situation, where brown eggs are the rare ones that foodie shoppers shell out more for.
7. THE MYTH: You should add vinegar to your poaching water
THE TRUTH: OK, so the vinegar devotees aren't wrong – just different. Acids in the water help to speed up the coagulation process, setting the egg whites faster. In theory that's a good thing as you're less likely to end up with wild stringy bits, but it will also make your whites firmer and squeakier (dare we say, rubbery?).
It's all just a matter of personal taste.
8. THE MYTH: Meringues need vinegar too
THE TRUTH: As with poached eggs, there is a scientific reason for this. But if you're wary of the faint tang of a chip shop ruining your lovely pavlova, you can achieve the same result with lemon juice or cream of tartar.
Or skip it altogether and just be patient.
9. THE MYTH: An omelette should never be stirred
THE TRUTH: Saturday Kitchen might have got us all thinking the only way to a tasty omelette is to jiggle it about wildly for four seconds before slopping it out on a plate, but plenty of chefs swear by the tilt-and-stir spatula method – your wrists, your choice.
But while a good, fluffy omelette doesn't have to be frantic, it does need to be quick. Aim to get it from pan to plate in less than a minute.
10. THE MYTH: You shouldn't season eggs before they're cooked
THE TRUTH: While some people (Gordon Ramsay, for one) will tell you that adding salt to raw egg breaks down the egg's structure and turns things watery, it actually makes no difference. It can even make your eggs more tender.
"Salt acts as a buffer between the proteins in the eggs, which prevents them from linking as tightly as they otherwise would during cooking," says Daniel Gritzer from Serious Eats. "The tighter the proteins link, the more water they push out and the tougher the egg becomes." Which is all a very scientific way of saying that adding salt stops your eggs getting tough.
So no need to hold ouef till the end, then. Phew.
11. THE MYTH: You should baste fried eggs with hot oil
THE TRUTH: In theory, it's so simple, but fried eggs can still be tricky blighters. Especially when you'd rather turn vegan than encounter a string of snotty, uncooked white on your toast.
While spooning hot, spitting oil or fat over the top of your egg can speed things up, it's loads easier (and less dangerous) to add a few drops of water to the pan and cover the egg for 30 seconds to steam it.
Voila! Perfectly set whites and a sunny, runny yolk... and no need for the first aid kit.
12. THE MYTH: The chicken came first
THE TRUTH: Two words: dinosaur eggs. That's just obvious.