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I had a recipe that called for four egg yolks, and I was saving the yolks in a little dish over a couple days until I had all four. By the time I got the last, the first couple had dried a little and gelatinized - since it took time to use up the whites seperately. I'm not sure if the problem was just being a bit dry, or exposure to the air.

In any case, I added a bit of water to loosen them up, and mixed them together (the dish asked for the yolks to be whisked anyway). When there were still lumps, I blended them - I have a little milk frother that makes a fair tiny-sized immersion blender when working with small quantities. so I have something that looks like beaten egg yolk.

What I'm wondering is, is there any way of knowing if or how the properties of the egg yolks changed from being set and re-blended? I'm not worried about safety, I am pretty sure they would have been fine if I'd had a better lid or more moisture. But I was wondering if the sauce made with them will now fail - because something that helped the emulsion or thickening when heated won't, since the egg yolks had already set up once.

There were some questions about freezing eggs which mention gelatinized egg yolks, but simply describes them as unusable or undesirable (which is fair if someone wanted a whole egg). It doesn't mention whether blending them smooth again will do any good if someone was thinking of a recipe calling for blended egg or yolk - especially since I'm pretty sure mine were kinda dried and exposed to air, not just cold-set (so just heat might not do).

  • What are you making? If the egg yolk is central to the dish, I'm not sure that I would use those. But, if you want them for the thickening and enriching properties, they would probably be fine. – Jolenealaska Sep 5 '16 at 9:50
  • @Jolenealaska - I'm making a savory custard sauce, where the egg yolks are whisked with spices, tempered with heated cream, and the yolks blended to the cream and heated until thickened. I think the flavor profile should be fine, I was mostly wondering about the thickening. – Megha Sep 5 '16 at 10:01
  • I'm not going to answer because I don't know except anecdotally. I've done a similar thing with egg yolks as you describe and it turned out fine. – Jolenealaska Sep 5 '16 at 10:21
  • @Jolenealaska - even anecdotally, it's helpful to hear it. Thanks for sharing :) – Megha Sep 5 '16 at 11:34
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Finally reporting back, once I noticed I hadn't written this up yet.

The reconstituted egg yolks work, with a few quirks.

After blending them with water, I had let them sit for a while - to make sure all the yolk from inside the lumps had a chance to re-hydrate. After a while (half hour or a bit more), I noticed the mixture had become thick. I added a bit more water - I thought I had added less before, after all I didn't remember offhand how much volume four egg yolks was supposed to be and maybe I had underestimated them.

All told, the yolks took up maybe half a cup of water more before I was really, really sure that it was more water than the yolks would have started with - and they were still settling at a thick paste, given time to sit. At that point, I said never mind and just made the sauce.

The sauce in question used a cupful of cream and some spices. I made it, heated the cream, added to the yolks and spices, then heated the whole until it until it thickened (as the recipe required). It worked just fine, giving a nice, flavorful, runny sauce.

About a half-hour, forty-five minutes later, it had thickened again.

So, the egg yolks definitely did not lose their thickening power. On the other hand, they thickened a lot more than regular egg yolks - four egg yolks in a cupful of cream (and perhaps half again as much water) would normally not set up as a thick paste... at least, it didn't the next time I made the recipe, it's usually fairly pourable as a sauce.

This was not a problem for me, in my recipe. I didn't mind the thicker sauce (it clung better), and anyway it stayed thin long enough to serve and plate when made, and re-thinned easily with a few spoonfuls of water each time I tried if I had needed, or wanted, the sauce to be thinner - it just didn't stay thin - and it didn't interfere with the flavor profile at all. Even with the extra volume, it didn't taste watery or weak-flavored (perhaps because the water was locked away in the paste). And while it looked just a bit gritty or grainy, it didn't feel like it on the tongue. So I was pleased by it, and the fact that the sauce slathered rather than poured just made it easier to control.

So, egg yolks that have dried out and gelatinized can, in fact, still be used - for flavor, for thickening if one doesn't mind a tendency to keep thickening up, for emulsification, and so on.

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