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Hollowed Egg and Egg Balance

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Jennifer asks via Twitter:

“1. how do you do that thing where you hollow out an egg? 2. is that thing about eggs standing on their end 1 day/year true?

Hi, Jennifer,

Hollowing an egg is not that hard, but there are ways to make it harder. You have a few basic principles to work from and a series of tips from there.

  1. You have to make a way for the egg to leave the shell. You can do this with a needle, though I’ve found that a good instant-read probe thermometer works really well if it has a sharp tip. You want to put this on the pointy end of the egg.
  2. You need a way for something to replace the egg that is leaving the shell, and generally you want to use air for this. The easiest way to do this is to poke a second hole on the opposite end of the egg. Trying to remove egg without replacing the egg with air would create a vacuum, which would keep the egg trapped in the shell. If you had a powerful enough vacuum on the outside of the shell to convince the egg to leave, chances are that you’d break the shell in the process, which is counter-productive.
  3. You want to break the yolk. Use your pointy, egg-piercing device to do this. Swirl it around until, when you remove it, there is yolk on the needle/probe.
  4. Blow on one end of the egg, and watch the egg come out of the other end. I recommend doing this over a sink, not over a new carpet. I’m sure you understand. Incidentally: this is pretty gross. Just so you know.

That’s about it for technique. There are some important considerations and tips, though.

  1. Safety: salmonella lives on the outside of egg shells, so putting your mouth on the outside of the shell is somewhat risky. Wash the egg first, or use pasteurized eggs, if you are at all concerned about the dangers of salmonella.
  2. An old egg will be easier to evacuate than a fresh egg. Fresh eggs have several mechanisms to keep egg inside shell, such as a tougher membrane, more liquid and less air inside the shell, and generally more in-tact whites and yolks. Older eggs are ready to not be in the shell any more, so you’ll have an easier time of it.
  3. On the other hand, an older shell is somewhat more fragile than a fresh shell, so if you find yourself unable to pierce the shell without seriously damaging it, try a somewhat fresher egg.
  4. Let your eggs come up to room temperature. Things flow better at room temperature, and you won’t get cold hands while you’re preparing everything. If you’re washing the eggs anyways, just wash them for 30 seconds in fairly warm water, and they’ll be the proper temperature at the end.
  5. There are plenty of techniques using nose bulbs or tubes or air compressors or plastic wrap to evacuate your egg without touching it with your mouth, sometimes with only a single hole. These are great if you want to do them, but they seem like a lot of work to me. Just remember the physics of needing a way to get air into the egg while you’re removing the egg white and yolk, and the sky’s the limit.

As for your second question, I’ve heard the theory. Supposedly, at one of the Equinoxes, the celestial bodies that tug at the earth line up in such a way as to provide just a bit of extra gravity going just the right direction, which allows you to stand an egg up on its side.

Poppycock.

From a theoretical standpoint, this just doesn’t even make much sense. Where you are on the planet would have to be important if it were the distance or angle of the Earth to the Sun, not to mention if it were day versus night. Furthermore, if we’re talking gravity, I’d choose the Moon versus the Sun any day, since the Moon’s gravitational pull is strong enough to move the oceans, and the Sun… not so much. The Sun is really far away;it’s not its fault.

From a practical standpoint, it just takes a steady hand to balance an egg any day of the year. I was doing a show a few years back, and one of the cast members was really good at balancing an egg, so while everyone was bored waiting to go on, he’d find an egg (I have no idea from where) and balance it. This happened on several different days, so I know it wasn’t just on an Equinox.

To repeat it, you want to use the wide base of the egg, not the pointiest end. Hold it in place for a little bit to allow the yolk to settle, then try to keep it steady on the most stable point. It’ll take some practice, but you can do it if you want to put in the work.

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