Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Separating Egg Whites from Yolks

Separating egg 2

Old recipes call for separating egg whites from yolks much more frequently than modern recipes. For example, a few days ago I needed to separate four eggs to make the hundred-year-old Lemon Meringue Pie recipe that I recently posted. The yolks went into the lemon custard filling and the whites into the meringue.

Old cake recipes also often call for separating the eggs and beating the whites before adding them to the batter to get a lighter, fluffier cake. . . and so do some old omelette recipes. . . . My list could so on and on.

Here are directions in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for separating eggs:

Separating Whites from Yolks

Break the egg over a bowl, turn the small end down, and pull the shell apart, slipping the yolk from one half of the shell to the other once or twice, so that the white will drop into the bowl. If any of the yolk is mixed with the white, the white will not beat well on account of the fat present.

The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics by Emma E. Pirie (1915)

Old-Time Asparagus Omelet Recipe

asparagus omelet h

I have a short list of brunch dishes that I regularly make. I recently found a recipe in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping  for Asparagus Omelet that I’m adding to my repertoire of go-to brunch recipes. It makes a stunning presentation, and has a wonderful texture and taste.

Often omelets are a little heavy, but Asparagus Omelet is not like the typical modern omelet. The recipe calls for beating egg whites into stiff peaks, and then folding the remainder of the ingredients into them.  This omelet incredibly light and airy with embedded pieces of asparagus.

The omelet was so thick that I didn’t even try to fold it over like the typical omelet, and instead just turned the unfolded omelet onto a plate (actually I turned it onto a baking sheet) and cut into wedges.

Asparagus Omelet d

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Asparagus Omelet

  • Servings: 3-5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup milk

6 eggs, separated

3/4 cup cooked  asparagus (1-inch pieces)

cooked asparagus tips for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350° F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter in small saucepan, then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Add a small amount of milk and make a paste. Gradually add remaining milk while stirring rapidly and continuing to heat. Continue stirring until thickens. Then remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Stir in the white sauce and asparagus pieces; then fold into the beaten egg whites.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet on the top of the stove using medium-low heat. (If needed to prevent sticking, liberally grease the skillet before heating.) Pour the egg and asparagus mixture into the hot skillet, and gently cook for 1 minute. Move the skillet to the oven, and bake for about 10 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.

Remove from oven, and loosen the edges of the omelet from the skillet with a knife or spatula, then turn onto a plate. Garnish with asparagus tips and cut into wedges.

Asparagus Omelet e

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)

Make Substitutions When Eggs are Expensive

Eggs 3

Today, reasonably priced eggs are generally available year-round, but a hundred years ago people worried about the high price of eggs.

Here’s some advice in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:

The demand for fresh eggs is great, and so many eggs are exported, that the price is high. Twenty-five cents a dozen is a reasonable price, but this is below the average at the present date. Thirty-five cents a dozen will permit the moderate use of eggs as the main dish for breakfast or luncheon sometimes, but not a liberal use in cakes and desserts.

If a recipe for soft custard calls for three eggs to a pint of milk, leave out one egg or even two, and use one or two tablespoons of cornstarch.

Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)

Serve Eggs Every Morning

fried eggs

Serve eggs every morning if you like, but do not repeat the same method of cooking more than twice a month.

Good Housekeeping (July, 1915)

Let’s see, I could make scrambled eggs one morning, fried eggs the next, then hard-boiled eggs, followed by soft-boiled eggs, and then poached eggs followed by an omelet. That’s only six different ways to make eggs.

Help! I have no idea how to make eggs 15 or 16 different ways.

Old Scalloped Celery and Eggs Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, February 18, 1913: Please excuse me for today. I haven’t much material to write about.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share a hundred-year-old recipe for Scalloped Celery and Eggs.

 Scalloped Celery and Eggs

2 cups diced celery

1/4 cup diced onion

4 hard-cooked eggs

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 cup celery stock

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Dice celery and onion, then simmer until tender in water to cover. Reserve one-half cup of the liquid (celery stock). Melt butter in a frying pan, stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually stir in reserved celery stock and milk to make a sauce. Bring to a boil. Add the cooked celery and onions, and put a layer in a buttered baking-dish (I used a 1 1/2 quart dish–it might have fit into a 1 quart dish, but I was worried that it would boil over.); chop the eggs, sprinkle on a light layer, add more celery, continuing until the dish is filled. Cover with the buttered crumbs, and bake in a moderate oven (375°) until browned.

Makes 4-5 servings

Adapted from recipe in the November, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal

I’ve enjoying rediscovering celery this winter. Celery was a popular winter vegetable a hundred years ago. It was easy to transport and store.

I’ve also discovered that celery and egg combinations were very popular years ago. You might enjoy this previous post:

Old-Fashioned Celery Chowder Recipe

Old-fashioned Pickled Beets and Eggs

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, August 7, 1911: I wound up my driving this afternoon, and I’m not sorry either. Carrie was over this evening. We did some planning for that picnic, which we wish to have some time next week if we can.

Pickled Beets and Eggs at the 2011 McEwensville Community Picnic

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma began driving horses five days ago. As discussed in the August 2 entry, she probably was operating a horse-drawn roller that leveled the plowed ground in preparation for planting winter wheat.

As Grandma planned for the picnic, she may have thought about foods that she could take.  Beets are in season, so a hundred years ago Grandma may have thought about taking Pickled Beets and Eggs to the upcoming picnic. Here’s an old recipe that I use to make pickled beets and eggs.

Pickled Beets and Eggs

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup  reserved  beet water from cooking beets

1 1/3 cup sugar

1 piece stick cinnamon

2 cups cooked beets, sliced (leave beets whole if small)*

12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

Combine vinegar, beet water, sugar, and piece of stick cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved then remove from heat.

Put sliced beets and hard-boiled eggs in a glass jar or other container. Pour cooked liquid over the beets and eggs.  Chill overnight to marinate. (For darker eggs, chill for several days before serving.).

*Peel beets before cooking (or canned beets may be used–though that’s probably less authentic).

Easter and Goldenrod Eggs

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, April 16, 1911:  Easter Sunday, no chocolate eggs were in evidence. I went to Sunday school this morning. Went over to Stout’s this afternoon. Miss Carrie wasn’t at home though, having gone away to spend Easter.

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It sounds like Grandma’s family didn’t celebrate Easter in 1911—though other families in the area apparently participated in extended family gatherings since Grandma’s friend Carries had gone away to spend Easter.

Grandma’s maternal grandparents lived in Turbotville, and her mother, Phoebe Derr Muffly, had 7 siblings—many of whom lived within 15 miles of the Muffly farm. It is somewhat surprising that the extended family didn’t gather to celebrate Easter.


I had lots of fun experimenting with dying eggs using onion skins two days ago—now I have lots of hard-boiled eggs that need to be used.

Goldenrod Eggs are an old-fashioned traditional Easter food.

Goldenrod Eggs with Chopped Ham

Goldenrod Eggs

6 slices buttered toast

6 hard-cooked eggs

2 cups white sauce*

1/4  teaspoon salt

few grains cayenne

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Remove shells from eggs; chop whites finely; add to White Sauce. Press yolks through a sieve and add seasonings. Pour White Sauce over toast arranged on a platter, and garnish with yolks of eggs.

This dish may be very attractively arranged by placing spoonfuls of finely chopped ham around the toast.

*White Sauce

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

few grains cayenne

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter, add flour, seasonings and liquid. Stir until the boiling point is reached. Boil two minutes, beating constantly.

Lowney’s Cook Book (1907)