Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Theme Thursday: How to Boil and Peel an Egg

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But getting a hardboiled egg to separate from the peel isn’t always easy. And since it’s Easter/Passover and people are peeling this week, I thought I’d do a little research into the best method.

Devilled eggs are a huge favorite around here. I don’t mind making them, but I’ve had my share of clinging shells and it takes all the fun out of it – it’s hard on the fingers, too. So here are a few tips gleaned from the experts in my own little cookbook library.

Howard Hillman: The New Kitchen Science
A week old egg is preferable for preparing a hard-cooked egg. How can you tell if a raw egg is fresh? An egg acquires buoyancy as it ages. Put it in several inches of water in a pot. If it sinks or lies on it’s side, it’s fresh. If it stands up, it’s over the hill, but edible. If it floats, it’s rotten. Fresh eggs may be harder to peel but are less likely to leave a unsightly grey/green tinge.

Pierce the egg’s larger end with a metal pushpin. It’s point is short enough not to rupture the membrane that separates the trapped air from the albumen but thick enough to make a convenient hold for the air to escape through as it expands while being heated in the simmering water. Result: No cracked shell. Ease egg into boiling water. Simmer 12-15 minutes. Peel while hot, starting at the larger end, holding under tap water if necessary.

Julia Child: In Julia Child’s Kitchen
Julia has 6 pages in this book devoted to cooking hardboiled eggs. She concurs with the advice to use a less-fresh egg: “A new-laid egg is more acid than alkaline. After a few days when it swings over to the alkaline side, your troubles are over. For a more attractive egg, some people believe that if you stir the eggs about as they cook, you may re-center the yolk. "

Never boil a hard-boiled egg. Julia cooked “les oeufs durs” or hard-cooked eggs in simmering water, which produces a more tender egg white, but may take up to 17 minutes. When time is up, drain the eggs, crack each gently by tapping 2 or 3 places very lightly with the back of a spoon and run cold water into the pan. Cracking allows cold water to penetrate and hopefully, to shrink the egg from the membrane while quick cooling minimizes yolk discoloration.

I love Julia’s tip for troublesome eggs: “If you had planned to serve them whole and are faced with a ragged group, change gears and make egg salad.”

Christopher Kimball: The New Best Recipe Cookbook
Chris’ boiled egg directions were deceptively placed not under “Eggs and Breakfast,” but under “Salads.” However, in his egg section, I found two new outstanding vocabulary words: Chalazae (the whitish cords at each pole of the inside of the egg) and Vitelline (the membrane that protects the yolk.) Method:
His method is uncharacteristically simple: “We always considered hardboiling an egg to be a crapshoot.” Start the eggs in cool water. No prick. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover pan and set aside for 10 minutes.

Now that we’re done…..I usually write a little “HB” in pencil on my hardboiled eggs so I don’t forget, but here’s another easy way to tell a raw egg from one that’s hardboiled: Try spinning it on the counter. If it spins easily, it's hardboiled. If it wobbles, it's raw!

Well, what did I miss? Anyone know why some people put vinegar in the egg boiling water?

I'm taking a break from blogging for a week or so but want to wish everyone a joyful Easter and Passover! Looking forward to seeing everyone's Theme Thursday entries when I return.


Ronda Laveen said...

I have good luck with the last technique. Thanks for all the 411.

tut-tut said...

Eggs is eggs; sometimes they cooperate and sometimes they don't.

Have fun decorating them!

Brian Miller said...

happy easter! enjoy the break. very well read on eggs! i tend to roll them then peel. fun to try and get it all in one then reform.

Joanne said...

I use Kimball's method, but let them sit covered for 15 minutes, and it always works. Have a wonderful Easter and blog break! Enjoy!

willow said...

Thank for the eggy tips! Your header photo is just stunning!!

Wings said...

Thanks for all the tips! :)

Take care.

Tom said...

i like the last technique, think i'll try it tonite!

Avid Reader said...

I use the third method, and for scrambling, I follow the method in Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer .

reyjr said...

Happy Easter!!

Mrsupole said...

I use a combination of all three or I use all of them at different times. It just depends I guess what I do at that time. I think they all work fairly well. It is just if the egg peels easily it worked if it didn't, it didn't work. But thank you for all the seperate ways to do this. I always put salt and have tried vinegar, but salt is easier. And then sometimes I put nothing. I guess I will try anything.

But one thing I have found is not to boil a lot of eggs at the same time. Those times they never peel good. 5 or 6 only. This always works.

God bless.

California Girl said...

Wonderful post. Cooking was my first thought tho' I doubt I'd have thought of cookbooks. Love the Easter card at the end.

DineometerDeb said...

There is a speed peeling method on youtube in which the shell comes off all at once but the prep takes more time than just peeling the darn things.

Baino said...

I always get a giggle when someone says 'such a bad cook they can't even boil an egg'. I always put mine in cold water and bring to the simmer. It aint as easy as it looks! Have a good break!

Megan said...

Now I'm thinking about pulling out my cookbooks to see what they say about this tricky procedure.

Enjoy your break!

Kris said...

Curried eggs = the way forward!

Coffee Messiah said...

Nice post!

My grandma taught me to put hard boiled eggs in cold water for a few minutes and then peel. Usually, the shell comes off easily. ; )

Squirrel said...

Happy easter!

Dakota Bear said...

Your header picture is absolutely beautiful.

Thank you for the many suggestion of how to peel a hard boiled egg. I have had many where the shell hung tight.

Have a good time off.

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