I know, I know: Citrus in eggs? That sounds, um, different. But take it from a food scientist, this trick fluffs ‘em up while adding just the right amount of flavor.
- Makenzie Bryson Jackson, MS, food scientist and product development manager at Panaceutics
Makenzie Bryson Jackson, MS, a food scientist, says that this happens for two reasons. The first has to do with the chemical reaction between the eggs’ proteins and the acidity of the lemon juice. She explains that when heated, the eggs’ protein structure (60 percent of which lies in the egg white and 40 percent of which is found in the yolk) will start to change, coagulate, and create this 3D-structure we know as scrambled eggs.
“Whipping the eggs beforehand with some acid such as lemon juice can create a stiffer structure that holds air bubbles,” Jackson says. Add a few squeezes of lemon just before you slide your eggs into a pan, and presto—the acidity acts as a catalyst that creates and supports that perfect, airy puff.
The second reason lemon juice makes your scrambled eggs so fluffy and soft is because of the water in juice. Just like adding water or milk, the liquid slows how quickly eggs scramble. “The water in the juice dilutes those egg proteins, so they aren’t as quick to coagulate,” says Jackson. “They cook more slowly because there is more water to evaporate, and the water creates steam as it cooks, creating a softer, fluffier texture.”
As for the flavor, don’t worry—your scramble won’t taste like lemonade. The flavor is subtle, and Jackson says that’s also because of the acidity, which likely balances out and enhances the eggs much like the right amount of salt can.
Sold and ready to whip up your own lemon juice scrambled eggs? They’re pretty difficult to mess up. The only thing you need to watch out for is the amount of lemon juice you use. “Too much acid and the eggs will curdle and separate,” Jackson says. “And too much liquid might create a watery, lumpy mess!” The sweet spot is about half a teaspoon for half a dozen eggs—try it in your next batch, and prepare to forever alter your go-to breakfast recipe.
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