Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About
The albumen, the white part of the egg surrounding the yolk, is made up of four alternating layers of thin and thick consistencies. Listing from the yolk outward, the layers consist of the inner thick chalaziferous white; the inner thin white; the outer thick white; and finally, the outer thin white. The outer thin layer, located nearest to the shell, encloses the thicker layers of albumen in a high-quality egg. In these same eggs, the thicker layers stand higher and spread less than thin albumen, while in lower-grade eggs they thin and become indistinguishable from the thinnest layer. As the egg ages, the albumen tends to thin, as the egg protein changes in character over time. Together, the two albumens account for about 67 percent of an egg’s liquid weight as well as half of the protein and a good portion of niacin, riboflavin, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. Albumen is actually more opalescent than pure white, with its cloudy appearance linked to the carbon dioxide contained in the white. Since, as the egg ages, carbon dioxide escapes, the albumen of older eggs is clearer and more transparent than that of fresh eggs. When vigorously beaten by hand or machine, albumen foams and increases in volume by six to eight times. Beaten egg whites are essential for the creation of successful soufflés, meringues, angel food and sponge cakes, and light, fluffy omelettes.