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It seems to be conventional wisdom to add a pinch of salt before beating the eggs.

However, this website gives a scientific explanation of why it's a very bad idea.

Could you tell me who is correct?

Agitation causes the little bunches of proteins in the white to unfold, at which point the individual molecules start to collect around air bubbles and bond with each other. If there’s salt in the mix that bonding process is slowed as the salt dissolves into its component parts — sodium and chloride — and those ions start to adhere to the bonding sites on the protein molecules, preventing the proteins from using those sites to bond with each other. The result is that the foam takes longer to whip up and is less stable when it finally does form.

Edit: Harold McGee's book "On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" states that egg white foam (whipped egg whites) is harmed by the addition of salt. Source: this question.

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  • 4
    I always go with science over "conventional wisdom."
    – moscafj
    Jul 9, 2021 at 14:46
  • 3
    @moscafj plenty of fake science out there, best to watch out :)
    – Yulia V
    Jul 9, 2021 at 18:21
  • 3
    If it is fake, it is not science...best to check sources.
    – moscafj
    Jul 9, 2021 at 18:47
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    @moscafj this is why I am asking this question...
    – Yulia V
    Jul 9, 2021 at 18:53
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    I have never heard of this "conventional wisdom" in my life. For what reason do people do this? Jul 10, 2021 at 16:58

1 Answer 1

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There is a great deal of contrary advice on adding salt to egg whites. From my research, what I gather is that this mixed advice comes from the fact that it probably depends on how much salt is added.

These researchers found that foam volume and stability increased with a small amount of NaCl, then decreased with increased amounts.

This research did not find a significant difference in foamability or stability. You can look see the details beginning on page 79.

The author did reference the first paper I shared and stated:

The mechanism behind the adverse effect of salt addition on foamability may be attributed to the reduction in protein solubility at high salt concentrations. This decrease was due to a high level of protein aggregation which diminished protein adsorption at the interface and decreased foamability (Ercelebl & Ibanoglu, 2009).

From my reading, I would think that the impact of adding a "pinch" of salt (or leaving it out altogether) would hardly be noticed in the home kitchen.

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