The egg: an enduring culinary marvel. It supplies the yellow in our cakes and the sunny sides on our plates. It can even be eaten raw.
But did you know the egg can be bigger than before?
If you were on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, you probably did. The nonsensical phrase flooded social media after someone posted an excerpt of a video from a Facebook page called 5-Minute Crafts.
To summarize: Put an egg in vinegar; come back the next day. It is bigger, and shell-less. Put the egg in maple syrup. Leave it. Behold: it has grown once more. Dunk it in water. Put in blue dye. For a third day, leave it be. Is it bigger? Yes: bigger than before.
The video’s rise to viral status sparked a number of questions, “Why?” being the most frequent and obvious. My curiosity, however, was piqued by another matter.
Yes, the egg is bigger. But after being vinegared, sugared, and soaked, is it edible?
The short answer, according to food safety experts, is no. In the United States, most eggs can only go without refrigeration for two hours, or one hour if the kitchen temperature is above 90 degrees. Calculated risks are acceptable, though, in the name of science and journalism.
To satisfy my query, I followed 5-Minute Crafts’ process, resolving to take one small bite of the fried result.
To begin, I placed an egg (plus a backup egg) in apple cider vinegar. Some may remember this process from grade school. The vinegar breaks down the calcium carbonate in the shell, eventually dissolving it. After 24-48 hours, the acidic liquid leaves behind an egg bound only by membrane.
Once my eggs were shell-less, I filled one glass with Grade-A Canadian gold.
The syrup step, to be honest, baffles me. It seems entirely pointless. After vinegar dissolves the egg’s shell, the egg absorbs some of the water in the vinegar through osmosis. The egg can only absorb so much, though, and good maple syrup contains a relatively small percentage of water. Yet the video promises that the syrup makes the egg bigger.
The video lies. Or at least it did when I used Signature Select’s brand. After the water in the egg leached into the maple syrup, I was left with a deflated yolk balloon. The syrup step isn’t necessary for the egg to absorb the food dye, either, as I discovered with the backup egg. It’s safe to say, I think: skip the syrup step.
After leaving the egg to soak again, this time in blue water, it was time to cook.
Popping the inflated membrane revealed that the dyed water had colored the egg’s contents, but had not turned the yolk green, which was both impressive and disconcerting. The yolk cooked normally enough, but the whites, which foamed inexplicably, were almost creamy, and intensely sweet. The center was also sweet, but with added umami hint not normally found in eggs. Fried over medium, the bigger egg is concerning, and faintly hilarious. Ultimately, though, wholly inedible.
The science behind this ludicrous “craft,” however, is still fascinating; it’s a fun reminder at any age that cooking is ultimately chemistry.
So go ahead; create a bigger egg. Just don’t eat it.
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