Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Egg Coffee

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Last month I randomly mentioned egg coffee.  You knew I'd give in and try it sooner or later, didn't you?  You should have placed bets for how long I'd hold out before I tried this weird technique.  Maybe you did, in which case I hope you won.

I found some old percolators at my grandma's house and mentioned them to her.  She told me about the egg coffee she used to make where whole egg, shell and all, is added in with the grounds. And we're not talking an electric drip coffee maker here either, just a stove top coffee pot.  She claims it's the best coffee she's ever had and they just don't make it like that anymore. (Gee, I wonder why? I don't.)  So after raising my eyebrows for awhile and plenty of skepticism on my part, I gave in.  Truth be told, I had several other weird recipes planned for today, but they crashed, flopped and withered a little too hard to make it all the way here.  Since this egg coffee concept seems weird to my generation, I decided it would work in a pinch.

It's actually a technique that's been used for years by countless coffee brewers and served to plenty of unsuspecting guests.  A Scandinavian tradition, this coffee is also known as 'Lutheran church basement coffee.'  I looked up quite a few recipe variations and had fun learning about this weird tradition.  It wasn't until afterwords that I found this food science post explaining the chemistry involved.  I'll spare you the details, but the egg and shell supposedly remove bitterness and acidity, producing and incredibly smooth cup of coffee.

Let me just show you what happened.

Set a pot of water to boil on the stove. (I used the old percolator with the innards removed.) Meanwhile, mix your coffee grounds with an entire egg, including the shell.  On second thought, you could just add the cracked shell without crushing it.  Some recipes also call for 1/4 cup water in with this mix.  I tried it both ways and it didn't seem to matter.

When the water comes to a boil, add your egg-coffee mix and simmer 3 minutes.  The egg cooks and coagulates with the coffee grounds, holding them all together.  I would definitely brew this longer if I were to make it again. 

At this point all of your grounds are floating at the top in a soggy grey heap.  Adding a cup of cold water is supposed to help this settle to the bottom.  I did this on the first round and it didn't really help.  Just wait about 10 minutes and the grounds will settle to the bottom on their own. 

When the mass has settled, you can carefully pour a cup of coffee, or you can go ahead and strain it first. This will be left in the bottom of your pot.  It reminded me of a mouse nest, yum.

At least the grounds stay together, I'll give you that. 

I was under the impression that this made a super clear (uncloudy) cup of coffee.  I had little egg particles floating in mine, but they did settle eventually.  As far as taste goes, it really depends on how much coffee you use.  It wasn't until after the first pot that I remembered a 'cup' of coffee is 6 ounces rather than your typical 8 ounce cup measurement.  Who came up with that anyway?  Most of my coffee cups hold more than 8 ounces, not 6.  Between this and the fact that everyone likes their coffee a different strength, I can see why the recipes had such a huge range on grounds to water ratios. Bottom line is, use the same ratio you like in your regular coffee.

I made this again with the '6 ounce cup' in mind.  It was still pretty weak after 3 minutes of boiling.  I really didn't need a third pot of coffee, but I would be interested in tasting a pot that has brewed for 10 plus minutes. The egg is supposed to prevent it from becoming bitter so you should be able to brew longer without any problems in that area.  I'll have to ask my grandma more about her methods.  Maybe I'll make it one more time, this time with her.  I prefer strong black coffee and don't mind the bitterness, so as far as I'm concerned it wasn't worth the mess.  I can see why it would be handy if you didn't have filters though.  If you get the chance, ask some older relatives about their experience with egg coffee.  It should make for good discussion over Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm now extra thankful for filters and electric coffee makers.

 Food for Thought: "Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do reams know of boundaries?" -Amelia Earhart 

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