To begin the process of beating egg whites by hand, add a pinch of cream of tartar per egg white or about 1/4 teaspoon for every four egg whites. This will help to stabilize the egg whites and prevent the foam from losing its volume after the beating has stopped. Cream of tartar is not required if a copper bowl is used.
Grasp the balloon whisk firmly and begin whipping the egg whites slowly, using a circular motion at about 2 strokes per second. When the egg whites begin to foam, usually after 30 seconds or so, increase the speed to about 4 strokes per second. The goal is to keep the egg whites in constant motion, whipping as much air into the whites as possible.
After 2 to 3 minutes of vigorous beating, the egg whites should begin to increase in volume.
When an additional 2 minutes or so has elapsed, the egg whites should reach the maximum volume possible.
You can test beaten egg whites for the desired volume regardless if the whites are beaten manually or beaten with a machine. Pull some of the beaten whites from the bowl on the end of a whisk or spoon to determine whether the egg whites form peaks. You should be able to hold the whisk or spoon upside down without the egg whites falling off. If the egg whites drop off the whisk or spoon, continue beating; however, don't over beat the egg whites because too much beating will cause the whites to break down and become watery, in which case, the egg whites will not blend properly with other ingredients in the recipe.