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Dumb Question ; }

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

So, I am making soufflé and I find that, of course, the worst part is the whipping of the whites.  Lots of pocket gizmoes for whipping creak for Latte cups and other uses for the coffee world. I don't "do" coffee. But, I wonder, can we use it to make our meringue?  Is there a way to take egg whites and blend them to the froth stage.  An electric meringue machine, as it were<G>

 

So, guys, let's think on this. what would we need to make this happen?

post #2 of 16

Whipping egg whites by hand with a whisk is really not hard.  But any electric mixer will do the job.

post #3 of 16

OK.   Neanderthal here again ...

I stick one of these,(cheap whisk)

in one of these, (cheap drill/screwdriver)

and go at the egg-whites.   They (the egg-whites) don't fight back.

post #4 of 16

That's not the answer to her question, though.  It's not "is there a better way to beat eggs" but "can eggs be whipped stiff with an air injector of some kind".  You guys are always so into gadgets, computerized recipe machines, specialized tools, knife discussions that go on for months, i don't see why you have to just put down an idea just because you wouldn't use it smile.gif

 

My thoughts are that it would be more work, because an air jet is small and narrow, and you would have to be injecting air all over the place at once.   But on the analogy of making a bubble bath for a little kid that wants LOTS of bubbles, one way is to direct a shower jet sideways into the water (in europe the shower is on a long flexible tube so you can do that, unhook it from the wall and set it so it goes into the water at an angle, and you can get a foot of bubble foam on the bath), you might be able to direct a jet of air into the egg whites, that's strong enough and small enough to get through to the bottom.  Or a gadget with multiple jets like a shower head, shooting thin, strong streams of air into the egg whites. 

 

I wonder how those cans of whipped cream spray work.  There are professional ones they use in ice cream places here that use plain cream and the compressed air capsule that propels it out aerates the cream.  What if you put egg whites in one of those?  you'd have instant meringue.  But like with the cream, they would have to be emptied when you finished of course. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Siduri, you have the exact thought. I wondered if, like whipped cream, there were some way to do meringue with a can or injector. Whipped cream is made, in a chef's can with a Nitrous oxide capsule. you can use a small metal can with the nitrous to pressurize it. Many chefs make some lovely designs and decorations with whipped cream, using the nozzle of the can as a decorating tip, very nice things, they can be. Seems if we could find a way to do something similar with meringue, they would be lovely. I am sure there is some way. at lest, in large production. there are simply too many mass produced macaroons to all be done by hand<G>  So, whipped cream was, initially, done by hand, then mass produced only in manufacture, then, the manner of mechanically whipping cream was made small enough to chefs to use. I wonder what the meringue mechanism is and how would one make it small enough to be hand held?

post #6 of 16

Check out http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=629145 that discusses using a whipped cream dispenser.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #7 of 16

How much control would you have, using pressurized gas, over the degree of whipping?  With whipped egg whites, the distinction between soft and stiff peaks is sometimes important.

 

Bakery-level production of macaroons will use a large electric mixer, no?

post #8 of 16

The same question could be raised regarding whipped cream. Colin.  Yes, i think it's not a practical solution for large quantities, they would use a mixer. 

 

But who knows.  I think some crazier ideas have caught on and been useful.  The problem i see would be the sugar, which in whipping with a whisk or mixer, gets dissolved in the egg whites, but in a can, it would have to be dissolved first, adding time and steps to something that might be less convenient

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

AH, but, Siduri (and I DO love that name? is it your real name or a handle?) sugar, already dissolved, might be something a manufacturer would add for the purpose of strengthening the egg whites! Didn't someone mention a form of simple syrup added to the eggs for that purpose earlier in the Souffle discussion? Perhaps some company might introduce it as 'meringue in a can'<G>  Imagine that! being able to pop out meringue on top of a pie or in little pips to make forgotten cookies<G> I don't think you could sell it like you could whipped cream. the point has been made that there are too many different degrees of peaks needed for different dishes. but, a standard sweet meringue for pies and such might find it's way into production. obviously there is SOME method of mechanize meringue. I cannot imagine rank upon rank of young culinary students slaving over counters in the Mrs Smith's Pie factory churning out meringue for the Lemon Pies<G>  So, I wonder what they use to make the Meringue?  and can it be converted to a hand held device similar to the nitrous powered cans used for whipped cream to make the job of professional chef easier? wouldn't such a device make kitchen work for restaurants much easier? Imagine one that allowed you to dial in the strength of the meringue. from soft peaks through the full, dry foamy peaks. 

 

Just an academic thought, on my part.

post #10 of 16

HI again Karon.  

 

I wasn;t thinking of a commercial product.  The whipped cream cans i'm talking about are used in ice cream places here, and they put fresh cream in them and the compressed air shoots air into it.  Then at the end of the day it's washed out and refilled the next.  I would never use one of those cans you buy which even if they have real cream in them, are full of other junk.  I think to keep egg whites and sugar in a can to sell ready made, you would have to add all kinds of stuff.  I meant something like a seltzer bottle, with a compressed air capsule.  You fill it with cream or egg white and syrup and spray. 

 

In the big bakeries, they use a big mixer.  I use a kitchen aid at home and making meringue (or whipped cream) is the easiest thing in the world, so i would never buy a thing like that myself.  It takes a minute.  And easier to wash than a bottle! And you would not have to keep filling it, and no risk of it clogging as the sugar syrup maybe solidifies around the nozzle, etc.   But who knows, it might be something people would get a kick out of. 

 

To answer your other question, Siduri is a pen name.  I took it because she was the mythological character in Gilgamesh, the earliest written book we have, on clay tablets, from Babylonia.  (if we still have it, the library there being destroyed).  She appears in the story because Gilgamesh was terrified of dying and went looking for the gods to ask them for eternal life.  He meets many characters along the way, but one, Siduri, the tavernkeeper (beer was made by women in those days), told him what is partly quoted at the bottom on my signature line.  She tells him to go home, eternal life is not for humans, go back to your wife and child, enjoy them and let them enjoy you, wash, eat, dance, play music, etc.  I was so struck by that because we imagine people were so different back in those days, what was it 4000 years ago? dirty, rough, violent, but her advice shows that the things we value now are the same as then.  (Gilgamesh was, in fact, violent, but her advice was all the more significant given to him). 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Very nice on the name. and lovely. Thanks for the story. I remember Gilgamesh but I had forgotten the name Siduri.  Yeah, I would think the same about a bottle or can for egg whites. but then, many people use the little bottles for cream, even the canned whipped cream from the store (with all that stuff added into it) rather than whip their own cream when, seriously, it takes a few seconds! but, hey. most cooks in the United States are SERIOUSLY frightened of their own kitchens! Heck, just look at my terror over Béchamel! never knowing I had been making it all my life. now, think about your own friends. if you asked them about whipped cream, many would tell you they just buy Cool Whip or something! because they could never make REAL whipped cream!! And the very idea of making meringue! that has many people quaking in their boots!  I agree with you. popping some whites into the KA and flipping the switch is FAR easier than breaking out a can or seltzer type bottle, specializing in only ONE thing (I'm a lot like Alton Brown on this one. there is only ONE uni tasker in my kitchen! And that is a fire extinguisher)  But, people will buy Cool Whip or Redi Whip in a can rather than make their own. even though their own is SO much better and, even easier.  It is very sad in a very real way.

 

I have come to the point, now, that I rarely eat anything from a restaurant. Since I have begun to really be serious about cooking. I have some dietary restrictions which I would never impose on a restaurant chef. I love GOOD food but I have a hamburger budget<G> and a husband who thinks a culinary discussion is "Pizza Hut or Papa John's?". so, justifying a trip to a fine restaurant is impossible.<G> 

 

So, I cook for myself. and I find, that I can make far better food and save a lot of money this way. A fine restaurant can make wonderful dishes but, since they are focusing on making a living, you cannot always depend on finding the very best. even the best place on the best night has to contend with the spatial and practical issues of, where is the table in relation to the kitchen? and where is the waiter when the soufflé comes out of the oven (or whatever dish).

 

So, I cook for myself. and, while saving money, I enjoy it more. of course, it then leads to silliness like egg whites in a can<G> but, it is just a thought experiment, more than anything, to me.

post #12 of 16

I figured it was a thought exercise, Karon.  But i wonder if the injection jet would be an idea, for mixing, frothing, or whipping things.  If you have a small enough and strong enough jet going into a liquid it can really make bubbles.  A bunch of needle-sized jets of compressed air.  I wonder what it could be used for. 

 

I, sadly, have a similar experience with restaurants.  There are very few here that cook as good as me.  I knwo that sounds like bragging but it is more like lamenting!  Partly because Italian cooking is so simple, and almost all the restaurants i;ve been to make pretty much the same thing.  I tell you, i got pretty sick of the ten things on pretty much every menu.  Foreign food is usually just wrong, badly done by people who were not chefs at home, but just cooked.  Maybe the expensive ones are better, but i want to be dazzled when i pay for a meal. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yup. and the sad fact is (sad in this case) we DO want to go out, once in a while, let someone else do the work and enjoy a nice evening of EATING rather then COOKING.. Unfortunately, for folks like you and I who cook better or at least as well as most restaurants within our price ranges, finding a place that cooks better then we is going to be difficult. so, going out to eat is an exercise is sacrifice. What will we sacrifice for the experience? Usually, it is the quality of the food, the variety of the food. not to mention the to be expected delay in serving which means you may have no idea of the actual freshness of the dish (as to when it came from, the oven.  Of course, you can solve that problem by going out to places like cafeteria type places<G> so you can pull your own food right from heated storage to your plate<sigh> and go sit down.

 

Oh well. I am just enjoying a simple sammich tonight.

post #14 of 16

One trick I learned from my mom (home cook) is that, all the utensils and containers has to be 100% dry, works for me every time. When i whip egg whites in Kitchen Aid for tiramisu I could pretty much cut it if I wanted to. My two cents 

post #15 of 16

I find that water is not a problem with egg whites, nakachef, but fat is.  The utensils have to be really clean.  Apparently you can add a tsp of water to a couple of egg whites and they still beat stiff.  I read that and was surprised, but it actually works.  I don;t see any reason to do that, but someone wrote it once, overly concerned about measuring, e.g. that there were supposed to be 1/4 cup egg whites and their egg whites were too small, so they added a bit of water.  I would imagine the whites wouldn't last beaten for as long as they would if without the water.  But water doesn't impede whipping. 

 

The thing is that there is all this mystique about beating egg whites and all the other cooking techniques, that i think just puts people off - the copper bowl, the perfect measurement, etc.

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #16 of 16

After some poking around the internet, I found this  bit of science, which might be useful.

 

Denaturation ("changing the nature") happens when protein molecules unravel from their naturally coiled state. With eggs, this happens most frequently when they’re heated or beaten, but denaturation can also be prompted by salt, acids (such as vinegar), alkalies (such as baking soda), and freezing.

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When protein molecules are heated, they unfold and extend and their surface area increases. Exposed parts of the molecules become receptive to bonding with other protein molecules, and a network of cross-bonds forms; this causes clumping. Think of the changes an egg undergoes when boiled or fried: from raw to soft to hard. Eggs contain both water and protein, and protein is made up of amino acids. Some amino acids are hydrophilic (attracted to water) and some are hydrophobic (repelled by water). When you add air through beating egg whites, the protein molecules uncurl so that the water-loving parts immerse themselves in the water and the water-fearing parts can stick out into the air. These rearranged proteins then bond with each other, creating a network that holds the air bubbles in the whipped egg whites in place.

If egg whites are beaten until they are stiff, they are fully denatured and have no elasticity; they lose their original properties and aren't able to return to their former state. If egg whites are beaten only until they form soft peaks, the proteins are only partially denatured and retain some of their elasticity. The partially denatured protein strands surround the air bubbles and when heated, these proteins fully denature and solidify, creating a protective wall so that the air bubbles don't burst. This is why such dishes as meringues and soufflés are light and fluffy.

Other protein-rich foods undergo denaturation as well. It’s part of the process of milk becoming cheese, and you can watch it happen when cooking a fish fillet: The meat changes from translucent to opaque as the proteins uncoil and rebond.

You can learn more about how eggs are affected during cooking on our science of eggs page.

 

From : http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/icooks/11-03-03.html

 

I also read somewhere that egg white proteins trap air when beaten under low pressure. Placing them in a can would mean high pressure.

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