What Is Egg Albumen And Why Is It Useful In Food?

Eggs in a large egg tray on a white background.
Egg albumen - thickener, foamer and binder. Photo by somchai850, courtesy of FreeDigitalphotos.net

Egg albumen is the protein found in egg whites but not egg yolks. It is a favoured protein for bodybuilders an athletes when it is incorporated into protein blends with casein and whey proteins. In fact it was probably the first protein supplement because in the 80s, a whole egg was considered the ideal source of amino-acids.

Egg albumen is also a well established ingredient for cooking, especially baking. It is a functional ingredient serving as a binder, a foaming agent and thickener in a wide variety of products. The overall rheological properties of egg albumen alter with heating where it coagulates through denaturation to form a gel. These gels contribute viscous, elastic and rigidity properties to any food into which they are added.

When egg albumen is subjected to changes in pH usually through acidification, the unfolding and refolding of the protein improves foaming capacity, stability, and texture. Addition of calcium usually in the form of calcium chloride improves the functional behaviour further (Liang and Kistinsson, 2006).

Liang, Y., Kristinsson, G. (2006) Foaming properties and foam rheology of egg albumen after a pH-induced unfolding and refolding treatment in the presence of Ca2+ . Technical Abstract, 2006 IFT Annual Meeting, June 24 – 28, Orlando, FL

 

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