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What happens to an egg when it’s cooking?

June 7, 2019

My kids asked me this week, “Why is an egg white clear?” They followed that question up with another, “Why does an egg turn white when it’s cooked?” Great questions! 

So, I researched. 

It turns out that when an egg white (or albumen) is raw, it’s made of very long chains of proteins that are balled up in complex arrangements. These proteins are suspended in water. There are about 1,000 water molecules for each protein molecule. This gives raw egg white its clear appearance and gelatinous texture.

However, when an egg is heated, those proteins uncoil, get broken up, and re-bond. It forms something like a mesh of protein. This is what makes it white with a rubbery texture once cooked.

This chemical reaction not only changes the appearance of the egg, it also makes the proteins and many of the nutrients easier to digest. Your body has less work to do breaking things down. Pretty neat. 

It’s been said that there are 100 ways to cook an egg. Hard boiled, soft boiled, poached, sunny side up, over easy, scrambled, quiche, custard, deviled, baked. I could go on and on.

My kids like eggs in basically any form. However, I always like to toss a little fun into eating. An easy and fun egg recipe is Egg in a Nest.

Take a slice of bread and cut a round hole in the middle. You can use a proper cookie cutter, the top of a glass, or a plain old knife.

Heat a pan on medium heat with some butter, ghee, or lard. Lightly toast on side of the bread. Then, flip with a spatula.

Crack the egg into the hole. Let it cook until the egg white is white and almost cooked (yup, those proteins are breaking down). Flip to finish cooking, leaving a runny yolk.

Serve with some bacon or breakfast sausages and a small bowl of seasonal fruit.

Marie Reedell

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