When I crack an egg, I get a sliver of eggshell in it...oh, about 85% of the time. This is a problem, because I eat eggs for breakfast...oh, about 85% of the time. I really love my eggs—fried, scrambled, hard-cooked, omelet-ed. But scraping my fingers through goopy raw egg to try and fish out a craggy piece of shell is no way to start the day (especially if I'm less-than-fully caffeinated). And so I thought...there must be a better way.
Through trial and error, though, I’ve found my favorite trick, which is my favorite because it requires exactly zero skills and no special equipment aside from your fingers: Wet your fingers in water, then quickly and confidently grab the eggshell out of the egg.
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Game: Changed. So easy, yet it totally works...but why? Chemistry was never my strongest subject—luckily, food science writer Harold McGee was able to shed some light on the matter.
“I hadn't heard of this trick, but tried it, and I think the explanation is pretty simple,” he wrote me. “The egg white sticks to dry fingers and gets in the way of touching the piece of shell. It doesn't stick to the film of water on wet fingers, so they can grasp the shell with less interference.” If you’re curious, you can try his experiment: “Dip a dry finger into the egg, lift it out, and see how much white oozes off, then do the same with a wet finger.”
The one theoretical flaw with my preferred method? You’re getting raw egg on your hands (and likewise contaminating the egg with your grimy paws). Per McGee, this isn’t anything to lose sleep over: “While you can count on raw chickens being contaminated, the rate in eggs is something like 1 in 10,000. Even then, as long as you observe basic cooking hygiene—wash hands before and after handling raw ingredients—touching the white won't raise the risk of doing yourself or the egg's ultimate consumers any harm.”