What is Tempering Eggs? [Complete Beginner’s Guide!]

Have you come across recipes such as your custard or flan or the ice cream that call for tempering and wondered what it might be?

Tempering is a process that allows two liquids to come together at the same temperature gradually. Not just eggs; even chocolate and milk are tempered. Without tempering, chocolate would lose its sheen, and in dairy, milk is tempered otherwise, it will curdle.

Tempering eggs is a technique that allows eggs to be mixed with hot liquids. Tempering Egg increases the temperature gradually, without which the proteins in the eggs would curdle instantly. Tempering allows sauces and custards to harness the thickening ability of the eggs without scrambling.

In this article, you will get to know about what, why, and how of tempering eggs! So, let’s get started!

What happens if you don’t temper eggs?

If you add eggs without tempering, they will curdle instantly. When eggs are added to hot liquids, the temperature changes rapidly, which makes the proteins in the egg stick to each other when exposed to heat. Thus, they bind together to form small lumps and get scrambled before they will are fully diluted.

If you don’t temper eggs, they will ruin your sauce, sous, and custards since you need a consistency that is thick and smooth. This doesn’t matter much in recipes such as sous which include eggs such as egg drop soup.

What is the best way to temper eggs or egg Yolks for Custards?

Tempering eggs can be tricky if you don’t get them right. There are two methods of tempering them where you can ensure they don’t curdle.

Method 1:

  1. Heat the milk or liquid and bring it to a boil.
  2. In another bowl, crack open the eggs as required for the recipe.
  3. Take a whisk and start whisking the eggs vigorously and moving constantly.
  4. our in the hot milk little by a little while whisking constantly.
  5. You will get a smooth thick custard.

Pro tip: Do not be in a hurry to add the milk. Pour it slowly and steadily.

Method 2:

  1. In a blender jar, whisk the milk on a low setting.
  2. While the milk is whisked in the blender add in the eggs until fully incorporated into the milk.
  3. The above process can also be done with the help of an immersion blender and a bowl.

Once the egg has been tempered, they have to add back into the milk and should be cooked further according to the guidelines of the recipe.

When do you know, you need to temper eggs?

It can be confusing to realize if one needs to temper or not to temper eggs. Is there any way to get better clarity on this? Here are some guidelines that shall help you with the same.

You will know that you have to temper eggs…

  1. when it is explicitly written in the recipe.
  2. when eggs needed to be added to warm or hot milk.
  3. If the recipe calls for eggs to be added to cold milk, then tempering is not required.

How to temper eggs in ice cream?

There are many recipes that use make ice creams without eggs, but traditionally eggs have been used in ice creams, and most homemade recipes still call for them.

The process of tempering eggs in ice cream is as follows:

  1. Heat the milk on medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. In another bowl, add egg yolks and sugar. Whisk them well until combined.
  3. Add 1 cup of milk into the egg-sugar mix slowly while constantly stirring it. Add another cup into the mix slowly. Do this until all the milk has been combined in the egg-sugar mix.

benefits of adding eggs to ice cream :

There are a few significant benefits of adding eggs to ice cream –

  1. The ice cream turns out creamier as the protein structure in the eggs resembles a mesh of fibres which trap the water molecules and surround them. Since, the water molecules get surrounded thus on freezing there are no ice crystals formed, which lets the ice cream turn out creamier. Creamier ice cream results in tastier ice cream.
  2. Egg yolks are great emulsifiers. As, they are full of emulsifiers, they bind fat and water in a creamy emulsion. Eggs take the fat from the dairy present and give the ice cream an elevated levels of creaminess.
  3. Eggs acts as stabilizers, due to which the ice cream does not melt fast.

Pro tip: ALWAYS have eggs at room temperature while using eggs in desserts. Never use cold eggs.

Are tempered eggs safe to eat?

For safely consume eggs, egg yolks need to reach a minimum temperatures of 149 degrees to kill all the bacteria present. Recipes that call for the use of tempered eggs, such as custards, are cooked further so the temperatures are raised above 160 degrees thus can be safely consumed.

Other recipes such as Hollandaise Sauce require cooking the egg yolks with double boiler method. Here, the steam released from the boiling water raises the temperature of the egg yolks, and thus they can be safely consumed.

However, USDA enforces all egg and egg products to be pasteurized thus, this also eliminates the harmful bacteria. It is recommended to use pasteurized eggs for tempering.

does tempering eggs kills salmonella?

Eggs have to cook at a temperature of 160C to kill Salmonella. At this temperature, the egg is not runny.

Eggs are mostly tempered in hot-warm milk, with temperatures ranging from 120 – 130F. Thus, the tempered eggs do not reach the temperatures mentioned above that kill salmonella. But, in most custards and other recipes, the eggs tempered in milk are further cooked on heat where the temperatures easily reach north of 180 degrees. This cooking of the custard mix further eliminates the risk of Salmonella.

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