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I've come a long way making meringues, beginning with brown all-around gooey mounds years ago and reaching stiff, tall and white pretties almost every time nowadays, but there is one thing I cannot master.

My meringues are always sticky on the outside. Not very sticky like before baking, but they stick to fingers and to each other (if I let them sit for an hour in a bowl). When I used to buy meringues, they were always kind of rough on the outside and mine have something like a smooth skin.

My current receipe goes like this: beat the whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, add powdered sugar and a bit of potato flour, beat 5-10 minutes more, form meringues on a baking tray, bake at 70-100 deg C (160-210F) for at least 2 hours (more on a humid day), cool and immediately close in boxes to prevent soaking in humidity.

Maybe I should sprinkle them with more sugar just before baking? Grandma just gave me 12 whites (she has some funny superstitions about healthy and non-healthy foods), so I can experiment tomorrow, but I don't have any ideas.

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Wait, sprinkle more sugar on them before baking? Why sprinkle any sugar on them? – ElendilTheTall Dec 8 '12 at 19:31
Are you keeping them somewhere kinda humid? Meringues will always get sticky if they're not kept nice and dry. – Jefromi Dec 8 '12 at 19:33
I always let my meringues cool down in the open, then put them in a box once they have cooled down. That way, they may lose more moisture before boxing. The outside is always crisp and dry (the inside depends on how long you bake them). I was also told that you should never put them in the fridge. Lastly, I beat them to stiff peaks before adding the sugar—no idea whether that makes a difference, but I sure can't beat them well after adding the sugar. They becomes much less stiff after sugar at any rate. – Cerberus Dec 8 '12 at 19:56
@ElendilTheTall "more" compared to the sugar already in them. Bad wording on my side ;) – jkadlubowska Dec 8 '12 at 20:19
@jkadlubowska Ah. You might want to edit your question - it only says they're sticky after an hour in a bowl, and that you're keeping them in boxes, not that they're sticky before you even put them in. – Jefromi Dec 8 '12 at 20:52
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the meringues are coming out of the oven sticky, you might lower the temperature slightly and extend the drying time (to avoid browning)--they should feel quite dry and very light coming out of the oven.

Sugar is hydrophilic--if the air is humid, any condensation--even when you cannot see it--on the meringues will dissolve the sugar, and then they will start to feel sticky, and the downward spiral will begin.

According to all my searching, it is best to make them on a low humidity day. Of course, where I live in the summer, we pretty much don't get those.

If you are having trouble with them in storage, you might try to buy some desiccant packets, and put them in the container. Most desiccant is not food safe, so it should not touch the meringue. Amazon has lots of options.

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A good way of drying meringues out is to leave them in the oven with it turned off and the door half open. The residual heat dries them out without cooking them. – ElendilTheTall Dec 9 '12 at 16:03

Have you tried adding just a spoonful of corn starch? That's the advice I found in this video -

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I add potato starch, because in Poland corn starch is difficult to find and if you do find it - it's 3x more expensive (it usually has the word "dukan" on the packaging, and I suppose this raises the price ;) ). – jkadlubowska Dec 27 '12 at 11:45

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