Hard Boiling Eggs: You've Been Doing it Wrong!

Joined
30 Mar 2017
Local time
9:40 PM
Messages
4,045
Location
Detroit, USA
Website
absolute0cooking.com
This seems like such a simple thing. The joke about bad cooks is that they "don't know how to boil an egg". But, the fact of the matter is, there's certainly room for error. Usually, the problem is overcooking. I think this happens because it almost doesn't matter what you do to the egg, as long as it's cooked through. This is usually because hard boiled eggs are often not just salted and eaten as-is. They often are either sliced and added to salads (where the dressing can hide the imperfections) or mashed up and mixed with mayo (where all the evidence is completely buried). The following explores different ways to cook eggs, and records what happens with each method:

https://food52.com/blog/19620-what-went-wrong-the-hard-boiled-egg-edition

According to the above (and according to the way I've found my best success), here's how to make the perfect egg every time:
  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water (three-quarters of the way up), add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar (which supposedly makes the eggs easier to peel) and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. When water is at a rolling boil, add the eggs. Our eggs were cool—not straight from the fridge but not quite at room temperature.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes; then drain the hot water and put the eggs in an ice bath.
  4. Once cool, peel your eggs and rejoice.
I had always started the eggs in a cold pan, but I recently changed when I read (at the above site) that doing this makes them harder to peel.
 

creative

Senior Member
Joined
23 Mar 2017
Local time
2:40 AM
Messages
812
Location
UK
I would suggest that the eggs can be simmered rather than cooked at a 'rolling boil'. It produces a much more delicate egg white rather than a tough, rubbery one. This is my experience.
 

Morning Glory

Obsessive cook
Staff member
Recipe Challenge Judge
Joined
19 Apr 2015
Local time
2:40 AM
Messages
39,009
Location
Maidstone, Kent, UK
There was a lot of debate somewhere else about how to hard-boil and particularly how to peel eggs - I will try to find a link - but topics covered whether the age of eggs makes them easier to peel (new one's are harder), whether to add vinegar or salt to the water to make peeling easier, whether to plunge them in ice-cold water etc.

My problem is that the type of eggs I prefer to use are The Black Farmer eggs which have deep dark orange yolks. For some reason they are virtually impossible to peel as the inner membrane adheres like its glued! I've tried everything to no avail and now buy different eggs if I intend to hard boil them. I even wrote to the outlet that sells them - to discover that several others had found the same problem.
 
Joined
30 Mar 2017
Local time
9:40 PM
Messages
4,045
Location
Detroit, USA
Website
absolute0cooking.com
I would suggest that the eggs can be simmered rather than cooked at a 'rolling boil'. It produces a much more delicate egg white rather than a tough, rubbery one. This is my experience.
This is how I used to do them, but I must have forgotten how long to do the simmer, since I recently ended up with under-cooked eggs (or perfect soft boiled eggs, now that I think of it). How long do you simmer the eggs?
 

creative

Senior Member
Joined
23 Mar 2017
Local time
2:40 AM
Messages
812
Location
UK
This is how I used to do them, but I must have forgotten how long to do the simmer, since I recently ended up with under-cooked eggs (or perfect soft boiled eggs, now that I think of it). How long do you simmer the eggs?
For the same length of time. I have a different method for soft boiled egg which I shared before...virtually akin to coddling them.
 

Cinisajoy

Über Member
Joined
7 Oct 2016
Local time
8:40 PM
Messages
3,602
Location
Texas
This seems like such a simple thing. The joke about bad cooks is that they "don't know how to boil an egg". But, the fact of the matter is, there's certainly room for error. Usually, the problem is overcooking. I think this happens because it almost doesn't matter what you do to the egg, as long as it's cooked through. This is usually because hard boiled eggs are often not just salted and eaten as-is. They often are either sliced and added to salads (where the dressing can hide the imperfections) or mashed up and mixed with mayo (where all the evidence is completely buried). The following explores different ways to cook eggs, and records what happens with each method:

https://food52.com/blog/19620-what-went-wrong-the-hard-boiled-egg-edition

According to the above (and according to the way I've found my best success), here's how to make the perfect egg every time:
  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water (three-quarters of the way up), add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar (which supposedly makes the eggs easier to peel) and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. When water is at a rolling boil, add the eggs. Our eggs were cool—not straight from the fridge but not quite at room temperature.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes; then drain the hot water and put the eggs in an ice bath.
  4. Once cool, peel your eggs and rejoice.
I had always started the eggs in a cold pan, but I recently changed when I read (at the above site) that doing this makes them harder to peel.
Except for the vinegar and she just ran them under cold water, that is exactly how my grandmother cooked her eggs.
 

creative

Senior Member
Joined
23 Mar 2017
Local time
2:40 AM
Messages
812
Location
UK
Except for the vinegar and she just ran them under cold water, that is exactly how my grandmother cooked her eggs.
Yes I'm not keen on the vinegar. I stop the egg cracking by getting a skewer and lightly pecking the wider end of the shell until it makes a little hole (for the air to escape).
 

Morning Glory

Obsessive cook
Staff member
Recipe Challenge Judge
Joined
19 Apr 2015
Local time
2:40 AM
Messages
39,009
Location
Maidstone, Kent, UK
Here is Delia Smith on the subject. Delia is a renowned 'tried and trusted' UK food writer and cook. I'm not saying this is a better approach - this is just for information.
HARD-BOILED EGGS
  • Place the eggs into a saucepan that is the right size so that they sit comfortably and don’t crash into one another (and as an extra precaution, to prevent cracking you can prick the round end of the shell with a pin) and then add enough cold water to cover them by about 1cm.
  • Bring the water up to boiling point then turn to a simmer, put a timer on for 6 minutes if you like a bit of squidgy in the centre, 7 minutes if you like them cooked through. As soon as they are cooked drain off the hot water.
  • Then, the most important part is to cool them rapidly under cold running water. Let the cold tap run over them for about 1 minute, then leave them in cold water till they're cool enough to handle - about 2 minutes.
  • This rapid cooling helps to prevent dark rings forming between the yolk and the white.
  • To peel them crack the shells all over on a hard surface. Then peel the shell off starting at the wide end.
  • After peeling rinse again in case there are any bits of shell still clinging.
http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/eggs/how-to-boil-an-egg
 

SatNavSaysStraightOn

A Reforming Perfectionist
Staff member
Joined
11 Oct 2012
Local time
1:40 PM
Messages
13,091
Location
A Scot in SE Australia
Website
www.satnavsaysstraighton.com
The vinegar in theory is to start dissolving the egg shell - hence the reason it is supposedly easier to peel, but at that kind of concentration it is really not going to make much of a difference even heated up. Neat vinegar in a jar, putting the entire cooked egg into the jar, sealing and then shaking the egg around for a couple of minutes (shaking vigorously) does actually dissolved much of the egg shell and leaves little if any of the shell making it much easier to peel. I have both seen it done and done it myself. But and as ever, there is always a but, the vinegar is only good for 2-3 eggs max. I found the quantity used wasteful tbh. It doesn't make any difference to the taste of the egg, you are not pickling the egg in anyway whatsoever.

As for the ice-water, etc, it is to rapidly cool the egg which does 2 things. First, it shrinks air inside the egg shell very rapidly, (air expands on heating). This in theory pulls the inner membrane away from the egg shell. This only really works well when the egg is older and has more air inside to have heated up (and been lost through the shell without the shell breaking) in the first place. Secondly, it stops the egg from cooking, or more importantly overcooking because the egg, obviously, continues to cook because it is hot inside. If you don't stop the overcooking, you get the black/grey ring around the yolk and that sulphurous smell.

Personally I prefer soft boiled eggs, or even dippy eggs, but hard boiled are useful when you have one too many dozen in the fridge. :whistling:
 

Cinisajoy

Über Member
Joined
7 Oct 2016
Local time
8:40 PM
Messages
3,602
Location
Texas
The vinegar in theory is to start dissolving the egg shell - hence the reason it is supposedly easier to peel, but at that kind of concentration it is really not going to make much of a difference even heated up. Neat vinegar in a jar, putting the entire cooked egg into the jar, sealing and then shaking the egg around for a couple of minutes (shaking vigorously) does actually dissolved much of the egg shell and leaves little if any of the shell making it much easier to peel. I have both seen it done and done it myself. But and as ever, there is always a but, the vinegar is only good for 2-3 eggs max. I found the quantity used wasteful tbh. It doesn't make any difference to the taste of the egg, you are not pickling the egg in anyway whatsoever.

As for the ice-water, etc, it is to rapidly cool the egg which does 2 things. First, it shrinks air inside the egg shell very rapidly, (air expands on heating). This in theory pulls the inner membrane away from the egg shell. This only really works well when the egg is older and has more air inside to have heated up (and been lost through the shell without the shell breaking) in the first place. Secondly, it stops the egg from cooking, or more importantly overcooking because the egg, obviously, continues to cook because it is hot inside. If you don't stop the overcooking, you get the black/grey ring around the yolk and that sulphurous smell.

Personally I prefer soft boiled eggs, or even dippy eggs, but hard boiled are useful when you have one too many dozen in the fridge. :whistling:
On the vinegar, could you then use it to clean a coffee maker or steamer or put a little baking soda in your sink then pour the vinegar over it to clean out the drain. Microwave it and wipe out the microwave. Or all of the above.
 

Yorky

Uncomfortably numb
Joined
3 Oct 2016
Local time
9:40 AM
Messages
11,576
Location
Nakhorn Nowhere, N. E. Thailand.
Website
freebeerforyorky.com
My favourite method of cooking eggs in their shells is to place ambient temperature eggs into ambient temperature plain water and bring to the boil. Boil gently for 60 seconds then remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave on the side. For soft boiled eggs, remove after 2 minutes, for hard boiled eggs remove after 15 minutes. The hard boiled should then be placed in ice cold water. I guess removing them from the water at different stages should result in different levels of "hardness" but I haven't tried this.

[Edit: We tend to eat duck eggs most of the time which are larger that the standard chicken eggs here.

duck eggs size s.jpg
]
 
Last edited:

Lynne Guinne

Senior Member
Joined
23 Mar 2017
Local time
9:40 PM
Messages
761
Location
New England
I often stood at the sink making the air around me blue while trying to peel eggs. Old eggs, young eggs...didn't matter, whether or not I added salt or vinegar to the water, I was lucky if I got clean peeled eggs from half of them. Then I found an article on Serious Eats that offered a different way - lower your cold-from-the-fridge eggs into rapidly boiling water? Yes, and then there are a few more steps during the cooking process - 30 seconds boiling with the pan lid off, then cover and simmer on low for 11 minutes for a hard-cooked egg. The article is here: Perfect Boiled Eggs Recipe

If you want to read the entire scientific reasoning behind how this works, plus comparisons to other methods, you can read that article here: The Food Lab: The Hard Truth About Boiled Eggs

I've used this method for around two years. I've tested, side by side, a grocery store egg, one from Aldi, and a fresh-from-the-farmer egg.* They were all perfect, and peeled perfectly. I've cooked them as long as 12 minutes for firm eggs for potato salad, as short a time as 8 minutes for eggs with wet centers for salads. In all that time, dozens and probably hundreds of eggs, and all I can remember is that two eggs didn't peel cleanly. Just be sure you carefully check the shell before you lower it into the boiling water (I use a spider to do that, DON'T plop them in) or you hear *pop* and see foam.


* I also compared the cooked and cut-in-half eggs. The egg from Aldi looked almost identical to the farm fresh egg - larger and yellower yolk than the grocery store egg. Leads me to believe that Aldi sources their eggs carefully.
 

Yorky

Uncomfortably numb
Joined
3 Oct 2016
Local time
9:40 AM
Messages
11,576
Location
Nakhorn Nowhere, N. E. Thailand.
Website
freebeerforyorky.com
Many years ago I was making an egg/potato dum which required 6 hard boiled eggs. I was complaining whilst shelling the first one and then my wife took over and had them all shelled within a minute (I later found out that one of her previous jobs in the restaurant where she worked was to shell hard boiled eggs). They are not perfect every time but they're shelled a lot neater than I can do.

What neither of us have been able to manage (despite advice on here and from elsewhere) is to keep the yolk in the middle during cooking (for Scotch eggs and stuffed eggs, etc.)
 

SatNavSaysStraightOn

A Reforming Perfectionist
Staff member
Joined
11 Oct 2012
Local time
1:40 PM
Messages
13,091
Location
A Scot in SE Australia
Website
www.satnavsaysstraighton.com
On the vinegar, could you then use it to clean a coffee maker or steamer or put a little baking soda in your sink then pour the vinegar over it to clean out the drain. Microwave it and wipe out the microwave. Or all of the above.
I use it to clean the kettle. We get a dark brown residue at the bottom of it and the cheapest possible vinegar works wonders on cleaning it, far better than the kettle cleaner solution did (note past tense, I no longer use it)
 
Top Bottom