Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hardboiled eggs- the hard facts.

I don't know about you, but I sort of associate hardboiled eggs with summer. Not the first thing I think about of course, but it's down there on that list of grilling, swimming, and suntans. Seemingly without rhyme or reason, some days they peel easily, and other day most of the egg white comes off with the shell, leaving me with ugly eggs. Then there's the 
green ring around the yolk (accompanied by a sulfur smell), the dreaded mark of overcooked eggs. These are big problems, people.

Why are eggs hard to peel? The egg white, or albumen, as it is known in some circles, is naturally low in PH. This basic quality makes it stick to the egg shell, making it hard to peel. The albumen becomes more acidic with age, which makes them easier to separate from the egg shells. In addition to this, there is a small air pocket (at the fatter end of the egg) which gets larger as the egg gets older, due to moisture leaving the egg. The larger the pocket the more separation between the egg white and shell. So ironically, older eggs (within reason) are better for boiling. If you boil fresh eggs you may want to consider adding a half teaspoon of baking soda, which will raise the PH of the egg, making peeling eggs a cinch. Downside? Subtle sulphiric smell. I personally have never noticed it. ½ teaspoon shouldn't be enough to stink up your eggs. 
Other sworn by tales passed down include:         
Adding salt to the pot to make the eggs easier to peel
- Adding a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice (in case the eggs crack, it will help the spilled egg white to coagulate and set faster)
- Some people poke a tiny hole in the bottom fat end of the egg, which releases the air in the pocket. Keep in mind it is just enough to poke a hole in the shell, not through the egg itself. When the eggs are boiled this allows the expanded heated air to escape the egg without cracking the shell. 

My favorite methods are:
- The aforementioned 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, especially if boiling fresh farm eggs
- Immediately putting the eggs in ice water to stop cooking, and make the eggs easier to peel (make sure you crack them- see below)
- Spilling the boiling water after cooking, and gently shaking the pot to crack the eggs before adding cold water. This will allow the steam to escape the shell, allowing for easier peeling.

Perfect Hardboiled eggs

Place eggs in a pot, and add enough water to cover them one to two inches. Make sure the eggs are not too crowded.
Bring to a gentle boil, and gently simmer uncovered for 9 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the water out (carefully!), and then gently swish the eggs in the pot to crack them. This will let them steam, loosening the shells, and is my personal best bet on easy peeling. Put cracked eggs into a bowl or same pot with cold water and let cool. You might pour in some more cold water after a few minutes as the eggs will heat up the water.

Photo credit 1: .::RMT::. / / CC BY
Photo credit 3: cobalt123 / / CC BY-NC-SA

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