You need to whip egg whites to a stage known as stiff peaks when you're baking lemon meringue pie or a souffle, or adding stiff egg whites to a sponge cake, pound cake or baked dessert to give it more body. Whatever you're baking, when you whip egg whites to stiff peaks, use some special techniques and "secret" tips your recipe likely doesn't discuss. Select older eggs, if possible, because they whip up better.
Clean all bowls and utensils and dry them.
Warm the eggs to room temperature, which is essential for the egg whites to stiffen properly. Let the eggs sit out for an hour or soak them in warm water for a few minutes until they are no longer cold. If you soak them in water, dry them thoroughly with a paper towel.
Separate the egg whites from the egg. You should have a bowl full of egg whites with absolutely no yolk in it. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites.
Beat the eggs with the whisk attachment on an electric beater or whisk by hand.
Beat in the amount of cream of tartar the specific recipe calls for, or 1/4 teaspoon for every two egg whites halfway through the whisking. You can use vinegar or lemon juice in place of cream or tartar. The cream of tartar or its substitutes help stabilize the egg whites and keep them from liquefying again.
Stop whipping as soon as the egg whites form stiff peaks that don't droop. Don't over-beat or the egg whites will destabilize.
Use the stiffened egg whites immediately to ensure they hold their stiff shape. Use a copper-lined bowl instead of cream of tartar, vinegar or lemon juice -- the acids that keep the whipped egg whites from liquefying. The bowl will do the job even better and give more loft to the eggs.
Do not let oil or yolk touch any utensils, bowls or skin that comes in contact with the egg whites. Egg yolks contain fat. Even a small amount of fat will inhibit the rising of the egg whites. Avoid letting water get in the egg whites.