Egg science

I just bought some farm fresh egg and set out to poach one for my lunch. I cracked one open, and let's say it was uncooperative. I opened another to poach using my regular method in simmering water. The albumen almost immediately separated from the yolk and formed a raft. The yolk seized up into a tight, not runny little sphere. What's going on here.

  • Posted by: pierino
  • July 20, 2012


Linn July 21, 2012
Taking the eggs back to the retailer sounds like a good plan to me. I am not aware of any other reason for the egg white to separate from the yoke except age, but I will circulate the question one of my listservs.
pierino July 21, 2012
Actually I didn't buy the eggs at the farmers market but refrigerated at a store that specializes in natural, locally produced farm and meat products. I've always had good luck with this label. The eggs are never uniformly sized and are variegated in color. I did finally locate the use by date and they are guaranteed until July 29. I decided to test one for freshness this morning in a bowl of water and it lay perfectly level on the bottom without tipping upward. I'll have to ask at the market the next time I'm down there; maybe today.
boulangere July 21, 2012
I suspect as well that you've experienced a bait and switch: if they're "farm fresh" they must be, well, fresh. The only reason I can imagine for the membrane between the firm white and the yolk to separate is age. Which as we know, is a bitch.
bigpan July 20, 2012
Nothing is nicer than a fresh just-layed egg ... but with "farm fresh" at a farmers market you don't know if they have sat in a hot barn for a week before.
Get to know - and trust - the vendor(s).
Toss them out if you don't trust them to be as fresh as advertised. Be safe and avoid the bathroom.
pierino July 20, 2012
No dates on the carton. As I said, these were farm fresh. It didn't occur to me to give the eggs the float test in advance just because I only bought them two days ago. Age could be the enemy here. Or something else.
ChefOno July 20, 2012

I'm thinking in the same direction as Sarah, old eggs. Was the carton stamped with a pack date?

Another possibility would be jostling / agitation which can thin the whites (one of the reasons for not storing eggs in the refrigerator door).

You could try the old float-the-egg-in-cold-water test (sinking = good, floating = bad).

ChefOno July 20, 2012
Pack dates often in three-digit Julian format
Reiney July 20, 2012
What condition is the albumen in? Is it possible that it's an old batch of eggs? I know you just bought it but...

I had that happen to me when trying to strain off the watery white. I assumed that was the reason (and that the yolk seized on me because it wasn't protected from the heat by the albumen).
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