Breakthrough in egg yolk separation technology

All the cooks out there know that there comes a time when recipes require you to separate the egg yolks from the whites. I remember when I was a little boy seeing people do that by breaking the shell roughly in two and pouring the egg into one of the halves. The yolk would get caught while the white would overflow the shell and pour into the bowl beneath. You would then pour the remainder into the now empty other half of the egg shell, with more white dripping down. By doing this several times, you get get a pretty good separation, though it required some skill to not shatter the shell while breaking it and not break the yolk on the jagged edges.

Now they have little plastic devices that consist of a small shallow cup with a collar around the lip separated by a gap. By pouring the egg into the shallow cup, only the yolk stays there while the white oozes through the gap into the bowl beneath.

That works pretty well and I had thought that that was the apex of egg-yolk separating technology, never to be improved for simplicity and effectiveness.

But I was wrong, as this video demonstrates, that uses simple physics principles.

(Via Cory Doctorow)


  1. says

    I’ll have to remember this.

    My mother has an egg separator that she bought on a whim. It’s in the shape of a mug, with a face on the front. The face has an exaggerated nose, with holes for the nostrils. So you pour the egg in, then tip it forward until the whites come out the nostrils.

    She thinks it’s hysterical.

  2. says

    Or . . . wash your hands, dump the egg into your hand, and hold onto the yolk as the white slips between your fingers. Works just fine if you don’t mind getting your hands slimy.

  3. Mano Singham says

    That was hilarious. Isn’t it interesting that although we know it is just egg white coming through a hole, it still feels gross simply because of the associations created in our mind?

  4. says

    Associations can be powerful.

    I’ve done my best to maintain a very open mind about food. I’m very much a “try it at least once” kind of guy.

    And I know that snails are not very different from the mussels and clams and scallops and squid and octopus that I like eating (though I very much prefer cooked shellfish :P). But the very sight of the snail shell and all I can think of is that slimy body and that trail they leave behind, and I just lose my appetite.

    I won’t say that snails are gross. I won’t ever make fun of someone for eating it. I know I’m very likely being close-minded (and for some reason, I’ve never had a problem watching someone else eat snails). I just can’t bring myself to put the stuff in my mouth.

  5. Mano Singham says

    I have the same attitude as you. I don’t judge what other people eat but there are some things that I won’t eat.

  6. pipenta says

    Some snails are really good eating. Land snails, IMO, need a lot of butter and garlic to be tasty. But the big pink conchs of the Bahamas are fantastic raw in conch salad or fried, as fritters and in chowder. And I’m told by those in the know that abalone is even better.

  7. Dorothy says

    I have always used the bare hand system, ’cause a long time ago, the younger daughter had to have her formula nutritionally boosted with egg yolk – NOT the egg white. So, open egg into hand, let the white flow off, gently rinse the yolk with a little water, hold the yolk carefully in the fingers portion of the hand over the bottle and perforate the yolk (between the fingers) over the bottle, catching the membrane before it slipped into the bottle. Sterile and quick.

  8. Trebuchet says

    That’s EXACTLY why I can’t stand raw egg white.

    The original video is cool, but the audio level is too low. I found myself turning up the volume even though I already knew it was in Chinese…

  9. says

    Oh, you don’t have to tell me they’re good eating. I’ve smelled ’em as they’re coming to the table. Then I see the shell and…nope. Just nope.

    I honestly think I could eat snail meat if it were served without the shell. Snail chowder…actually sounds really tasty.

    It’s the shell that just brings those slimy images to my mind.

  10. Jandorian says

    I used to always do the half-shell back and forth method, because that’s what my mom did.

    Then I saw Jacques Pepin do the bare handed method on his PBS show. I tried it once, it worked like a dream, and I’ve never looked back.

  11. mildlymagnificent says

    Strange about the hand stuff. I love gardening barehanded – that feeling of real dirt under the fingernails is fine by me.

    But I can’t _stand_ doing anything in the kitchen that way. Pastry or fat under the fingernails? Gross. Rubbing fat into pastry or biscuits or scones, squeezing lemons through your fingers – yuk! I’ve seen chefs do that egg separating trick and I shudder every time.

    Definitely! going to try the bottle trick on the eggs.

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    Neat trick!

    From what little I can make out, the face and hair styling of the model on the bottle label (see 1:20) exactly match that of the video presenter.

    I thought China had enough people that not everybody has to do double duty…

  13. left0ver1under says

    Now they have little plastic devices that consist of a small shallow cup with a collar around the lip separated by a gap. By pouring the egg into the shallow cup, only the yolk stays there while the white oozes through the gap into the bowl beneath.

    Now? Perhaps they weren’t sold where Mano grew up, but I remember having one similar to this in my family’s kitchen when I was a kid, 35+ years ago.

    Some are metal sieves, and look prone to breaking the yolk:

    As an adult, I can’t be bothered with gadgets. I empty the eggs into a small bowl, then hold a knife or saucer against the edge of the bowl and pour out the whites. The gap is small enough to keep in the yolk and not break it.


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