Choosing the best meringue powder depends upon how it will be used and personal taste. Though it's often confused as an ingredient necessary for meringue pies, meringue powder is an egg white substitute. It's important when choosing a meringue powder to consider whether anyone who will eat dishes made with the powder has an egg allergy or a gluten sensitivity because meringue powder can trigger these. It's also important to choose a powder that has the flavoring you want for your recipe.
Sometimes, meringue powder contains added flavors or extracts, which may not be desired by certain people or wanted in certain dishes. Meringue powder is a commercial product used in baking as a substitute for egg whites. It's often packaged in an aluminum can.
Meringue powder contains dried egg whites that have been combined with cornstarch, gum arabic, and other ingredients to produce a powder. As a gluten-free product it's also safe for those with allergies to gluten. In addition, the product is pasteurized so that it will not place people at risk for salmonella, a bacterial illness that can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration.
Typically, meringue powder is found at baking specialty stores, though some larger grocery stores may offer it as well. Since this product is dry, water must be added to give it a similar consistency to egg whites, so that it can be used as a frosting known as royal icing commonly used on cookies. In addition, meringue powder can also be used in drinks and other baked goods.
A common misconception about meringue powder is that it is used to make meringue, which is the topping that is used on lemon meringue pies. Although it can be used when preparing pie meringue, the results are typically not optimal. It is important to note, that since this product contains dried egg whites, it may affect those with egg allergies or sensitivities. Also, although the product lists cream of tartar as one of the ingredients, it is not recommended a substitute for cream of tartar.
When stored according packaging instructions, this product will keep relatively well, and does not need to be refrigerated. It should not, however, be stored in warm, moist environments. People who don't care for the taste of meringue powder can mix it with other flavor enhancers. Extracts, such as lemon or vanilla, can be added for a unique twist on flavor.
Working with powder frosting or royal icing can be a challenge, and sometimes it takes a little experimentation before the consistency looks and feels right. Some bakers prefer a thin icing, where others may prefer their icing to be dense. In addition, individuals should be aware that this product is not a substitute for whole eggs, including the yolks, but only egg whites.