I do some historical cooking out of old cookbooks, like Amelia Simmons' American Cookery or The Art Of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. One thing I've noticed is that these cookbooks use way more egg yolks than whites. For example, I prepared an 18th century feast one night and ended up with 10 leftover egg whites in a jar.
This left me wondering, what did they do with the egg whites? Given the extreme frugality of cooks centuries ago, which included using every scrap of stale bread and every bit of a pig including the oink, I find it impossible to believe that they were wasted. They must have used them for something ... but that's not in the recipes I have. So, questions:
- Are the cookbooks we have simply not representative of actual cookery of the 15th-18th century? That is, are they purely posh cookery and as a result did actually waste the egg whites?
- Or were the egg whites used for some other purpose that required a lot of whites, maybe even a non-culinary purpose?
Help me solve this mystery. Thanks!