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An egg cracker is a kitchen tool which is designed to crack eggs. Egg crackers work in a number of ways, but in all cases, the goal is to reduce the mess of working with eggs, and to eliminate the probability of dropping pieces of eggshell into a dish as it is being cooked. Some kitchen supply stores carry egg crackers, and they can also be ordered through specialty purveyors which focus on unitasking kitchen items.
There are a number of different styles and designs of egg crackers. Some companies make egg crackers which are designed to be used specifically on hard or soft boiled eggs, neatly cutting the shell open so that the egg can be served in its shell. In this case, the egg cracker usually removes a circular disc of shell, sort of like a lid. In other instances, an egg cracker is designed specifically for raw eggs, in which case it separates egg and shell cleanly, dropping the egg into a waiting bowl and holding the shell back.
There are some advantages to using an egg cracker. For one thing, egg crackers cut down on the risk of transferring salmonella from the outside of the eggshell to the inside of the egg. However, salmonella has also been discovered inside eggs, so consumers may be better off using eggs from hens raised without antibiotics, since these hens seem to produce less virulent strains of salmonella. Egg crackers also eliminate small fragments of eggshell which might escape detection and be cooked along with the eggs, creating an unpleasant crunch when the eggs are bitten into.
Some people have also suggested that an egg cracker can be useful for someone with arthritis, limited mobility, or a missing hand, because the device is presumably easier to handle than an egg. The validity of this argument varies, depending on the style of egg cracker; some actually require more manual dexterity and strength than simply cracking an egg open by hand.
In any case, an egg cracker is usually designed to be dishwasher safe, ensuring that it can be washed thoroughly to remove any lingering egg proteins and bacteria. When purchasing an egg cracker, you may want to think about how it will be used, and by whom, to determine whether or not it will be suitable for the job.
If you do not own an egg cracker, an easier way to crack eggs is by tapping them on a flat surface, instead of the side of a bowl. The gentle tapping on the flat surface will crack the egg and the membrane. There will be fewer pieces of cracked shell to deal with.