Egg Substitutes

Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

Do any come close to the real thing?

Overview:

In the test kitchen, we are not easily swayed from eating things that taste good, and we are not easily convinced that more healthful food substitutes can taste as good as the real thing. However, we realize that there are many people out there who pass on eggs for a fat free, cholesterol free "real egg product." These egg replacements are made with up to 99% egg whites combined with a mixture of vegetable gums, dairy products, water, and coloring. What do they taste like? We went into the test kitchen to find out.

Fifteen tasters tasted both refrigerated and frozen egg substitutes and real, whole eggs scrambled plain. Not surprisingly, the real eggs were runaway winners. Only one brand could ever be considered an alternative; despite an unnaturally bright yellow color and slightly spongy texture, this substitute had decent flavor that tasters found acceptable. All others either tasted disturbingly artificial or had a texture more akin to watery cottage cheese. Potent additions can mask flavor shortcomings, but soggy, spongy… read more

In the test kitchen, we are not easily swayed from eating things that taste good, and we are not easily convinced that more healthful food substitutes can taste as good as the real thing. However, we realize that there are many people out there who pass on eggs for a fat free, cholesterol free "real egg product." These egg replacements are made with up to 99% egg whites combined with a mixture of vegetable gums, dairy products, water, and coloring. What do they taste like? We went into the test kitchen to find out.

Fifteen tasters tasted both refrigerated and frozen egg substitutes and real, whole eggs scrambled plain. Not surprisingly, the real eggs were runaway winners. Only one brand could ever be considered an alternative; despite an unnaturally bright yellow color and slightly spongy texture, this substitute had decent flavor that tasters found acceptable. All others either tasted disturbingly artificial or had a texture more akin to watery cottage cheese. Potent additions can mask flavor shortcomings, but soggy, spongy textures remain.

We then turned to baking applications, using our acceptable brand in place of real eggs in three recipes: yellow cake, peanut butter cookies, and custard pie filling.

The verdict? In all cases, tasters found the substitute eggs to be a reasonable substitute. The yellow cake made with engineered eggs didn't brown or rise quite as well as the one made with real eggs and had a slightly gummy top, but it was still acceptable, especially once the cake was frosted. Both our substitute brand and the real eggs turned out equally good results in the peanut butter cookies and the custard pie filling. (In fact, some tasters actually preferred the custard made with the egg substitute for its "less-eggy" flavor.)

While we still prefer real whole eggs to additive-laden egg substitutes, the vegetable gums in this brand do a good job of mimicking the texture of real yolks and will work just fine in most recipes.

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