I watched, mesmerized, as my dad delicately poured the yolk from shell to shell, the white slipping out until only the golden center remained. Dying to try the simple yet tricky task of separating an egg for myself, I was perhaps a little too eager.
The yolk broke almost immediately.
I’ve since mastered my preferred method (the traditional way, using the shell). But if you, like my younger self, try to rush the process, you might end up frustrated with nothing but a bowl full of scramble.
Next time you’re making meringue (just the whites) or hollandaise sauce (yolks only), try one of these three easy tricks.
The traditional method: with the shell
Crack the egg on a countertop or hard surface, then hold it upright, with the crack running horizontally, and open it over a bowl. The white will spill out and the yolk will fall into the bottom half of the shell. Carefully transfer the yolk between the shell halves until all the white to drips into the bowl. Place the yolk in a separate bowl.
The lazy method: with your hands
This method is a bit messier, but equally effective—and since your hands are soft, there’s virtually no risk of breaking the yolk. Crack the egg into a bowl. With your fingers, gently scoop out the yolk. The white will stream through the cracks between your fingers. Place the yolk in another bowl.
The “magic” method: with a water bottle
A little something called suction makes this trick work. Crack an egg into a shallow bowl or dish. Hold the mouth of an empty plastic water bottle over the yolk—it should be barely touching the membrane. Gently squeeze the bottle, and the yolk will get sucked inside. Transfer the yolk to a separate bowl, releasing your grip to let it slide out. With a little practice, you can even use this technique to suction up multiple yolks at once! Check out this video to see how.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho