It was just a simple question but it has led to a lengthy answer. “What about egg protein?” a student recently asked, no doubt having read my earlier post regarding whey protein.
So I thought ‘Why not?’ and set out to write what I thought would be a simple egg protein comparison guide similar to the whey protein guide. There was just one glitch. I decided that since this whole article was going to be so simple I should fluff it up a bit with a little science-y info about how they make egg protein powder.
First of all, I did not do this kind of processing review for the whey protein article – an oversight I will be correcting shortly. My vague reasoning was that since there was obviously processing done to render the whey protein away from its milk origins that there was a lot of science and effort involved. It was obvious to me that whey protein concentrates and isolates are processed. After all, they are not just dehydrated milk.
Yet somehow I was thinking that egg protein powders making was much simpler. In all honesty there was just this blank space in my mind that went from the egg to (hidden magical process) and then the egg protein powder. Tada! I didn’t know what that magical process was, but since I was somehow certain it was no big deal I was content with it being blank.
In reality, nothing about making something that is completely liquid like an egg into something that is completely dry like egg protein powder is simple. This is not to say it is all that complicated, but in researching the information I was confronted with some uncomfortable truths. We don’t really know enough about the processes that make our foods when they go into large scale production. More on this later. Here is the not so simple but not all that complex way to make egg protein powder – Do it Yourself version.
Making Your Own Egg Protein Powder
Step one – acquire the eggs
Yes, chickens are involved, but where those chickens come from, how they live their lives, what they are fed, whether antibiotics or growth hormones or other drugs are used in their care is a very present variable. You can find free range fresh eggs at many of the local farm co-ops as well as the local grocery stores. More about the differences in cage free, free range and organic coming up.
Step two – break the eggs
Okay, what this is really saying is whether you separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. In creating powdered eggs that will be used to create things like scrambled eggs, etc., they keep the yolks and whites together. In almost all egg protein powders they use only the egg whites. This will make a difference in the nutritional components of the end results, but more on this later. Once you decide to separate or not, scramble the eggs.
Step three – apply heat
There are two methods that are used. In a two step method, you cook the eggs first and then dehydrate the cooked eggs. In a single step method you dehydrate the raw eggs in temperatures of at least 134 degrees. These pasteurization temperatures are necessary to kill salmonella bacteria, as well as dry the eggs for storage. It is also important to treat eggs with heat in order to deactivate avidin protein in the egg white.
Avidin is a minor constituent of raw egg white protein but it can be toxic when ingested in large amounts. Avidin binds with biotin, creating a deficiency for those who eat large amounts of raw egg whites. Processing the egg whites with sufficient temperatures to inactivate the avidin is a necessary step in making a safe protein powder.
Step four – grind the dried egg product and store
A grinder or blender or even a food processor will work. You want the end result to be powdery. If thoroughly dried this can be stored unrefrigerated for years. A good airtight container is necessary.
If you are interested, here is an article that goes into all the step by step details on how you can create your own powdered eggs:
A good dehydrator for this type of process is the Nesco American Harvest.
Now, if you are like me and want to use egg protein powder due to the convenience of having a ready to go substance, you probably will want to skip all the ‘do it yourself’ stuff and will want to know more about ready to use egg protein powder.