Egg alternatives may come in handy in the face of bird-flu induced shortages.
Depending on where you live, you may have seen signs at your grocery store limiting the number of eggs you can buy. Regardless of where you live, you’ve likely noticed the price of eggs and egg products skyrocketing.
Rising prices and tightening supplies are the result of a fast-spreading outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) first detected in Oregon in December 2014. As of early June, the number of affected birds (including turkeys and other poultry) was nearing 47 million. The greatest numbers of sick chickens are in Iowa and Minnesota (30.5 million and 8.9 million birds, respectively), with infected birds also reported in Washington, California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Idaho, and Montana.
Because the majority of these chickens (approximately 85 percent) are egg layers, the price of eggs has more than doubled since the end of May. Since April 20, approximately 35 million egg laying chickens on about 25 farms have been infected. Those 35 million layers represent 12 to 13 percent of the egg industry.
American’s rely on eggs for everything from baking to breakfast, but as bird flu spreads, prices will go up as supplies go down, so it may be time to look for alternatives.
Egg replacements in cooking
If you’ve decided to replace your eggs with something else, first determine what function the eggs serve in the recipe you are making. Eggs do one of three things: they can be leavening, causing baked goods to rise; they serve as a binder, holding the ingredients together; or they provide moisture.
If your recipe calls for eggs as leavening, try the following options. Each replaces one egg.
- Mix together 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 ½ tablespoons water, and one teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed with three tablespoons of warm water set aside until thickened, then add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar plus one teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of full-fat coconut milk plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- For each egg removed, replace ¼ cup of the recipe liquid with carbonated water.
If eggs are needed to hold your recipe together but it doesn’t need to rise, try the following options for binders (some can also be used for moisture).
- ½ of a medium banana, mashed
- ¼ cup of avocado, mashed
- Gelatin — mix 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin with 1 cup boiling water and use 3 ½ tablespoons of this mixture to replace one egg
- 3 tablespoons of nut butter (e.g., peanut, almond, cashew)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or 3 tablespoons chickpea powder (for extra protein) mixed with 3 tablespoons water
Eggs used for moisture are the easiest to replace. Your options:
- ¼ cup of pureed fruit (e.g. applesauce, pears, banana)
- ¼ cup of pureed vegetable (e.g., beets, pumpkin, sweet potato)
- ¼ cup silken tofu
- 1 tablespoon chia seed with 1/3 cup water set aside for 15 minutes. With the addition of ¼ teaspoon baking powder this can also be used as leavening.
Keep in mind that some of these substitutes will impart flavor, for example pureed beets or pumpkin, so be thoughtful about combining flavors. Also keep in mind that baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable.
For some recipes, the simplest solution may be one of the commercially available powdered egg replacements, which are primarily recommended for baking.
Addressing consumer concerns
The average grocery shopper doesn’t need to worry about coming into contact with eggs or meat from infected chickens. According to the US Department of Agriculture, it’s highly unlikely that eggs or poultry from infected chickens would make it into to the food supply. Furthermore, eggs and poultry products are safe to eat if proper cooking and handling guidelines are followed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently rates the risk of this outbreak spreading to humans as low. In fact, no human cases of infection with this virus have been reported in the United States. However, as a general precaution, the CDC recommends that people avoid wild birds, only observing them from a distance, and avoid contact with sick or dead birds.
June 12, 2015
Janet O’Dell, RN