“No flour, no Torah; no Torah, no flour.” – Pirkei Avot 3:21
Eggs are a common ingredient in kosher baking. They are parve, except when found inside the bird after kosher slaughtering. Such eggs are always considered meat. Once considered a delicacy, they are very rare in today’s marketplace.
All kosher baking requires kosher eggs. Today, nearly all eggs sold in the United States and many other countries come from kosher birds. The vast majority are chicken eggs. Eggs from non-kosher (trefah) birds, such as ostriches, are not kosher and cannot be used.
Fresh, whole eggs do not require a hekhsher. Some egg producers are under rabbinic supervision. The supervising rabbi or agency’s hekhsher will be printed on their packaging or, in some cases, each egg will be marked. Processed eggs, which may be pasteurized, produced on equipment used for other purposes, and/or contain other ingredients, require a hekhsher. For parve baking, these products (including egg substitutes, as well as frozen, dried, and powdered eggs and whites), must also be parve.
Eggs that are removed from the shell for baking need to be examined for blood spots. Blood spots, which are typically found on the yolk, come from two sources. In fertilized eggs, they can indicate a developing chick. This renders the entire egg not kosher. In both unfertilized and fertilized eggs, a small amount of blood from the hen may have entered the egg as it was being formed. In practice, all eggs that are found to have blood spots are discarded.
Blood spots are relatively common in organic and natural eggs, but rare in most commercially produced eggs. Industrial egg farming practices control fertility through hormone treatments and/or preventing contact between roosters and hens. A process known as candling, in which individual eggs are examined under very bright light, identifies blood spots and other “blemishes.” Sub-standard eggs are removed prior to packaging. Candling is more effective on white eggs than those with brown shells.
To check an egg for a blood spot, crack it into a small glass bowl or container and examine it from all sides. A blood spot will be red and round in shape. Once you’ve determined that the egg is blood-free, it can be added to a bowl containing other ingredients. For recipes that use more than one egg, repeat this procedure with each egg individually. When egg whites and yolks need to be separated, use two glass bowls or containers. Pour the white into one and the yolk into the other directly from the shell. Check both before adding them to other ingredients, including other whites or yolks. If a blood spot is discovered on the yolk after the egg has been separated, discard the yolk. The white may be used.
Protein spots, which may appear as pink or reddish-brown specks surrounded by cloudy fluid in the white or, less often, on the yolk, are more common than blood spots. They also occur more frequently in brown than white eggs. Protein spots pose no halakhic problems. The entire egg may be used.
These guidelines are for educational purposes. As in all matters of kashrut, follow your rabbi’s guidance.
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