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Jul 10 2012

The Best Way To Make Hard Boiled Eggs.

Start with room temperature eggs. If not at room temperature, put them into a pan of tap water that is neither cold nor hot, and heat them up a bit on “low” until they get to roughly room temperature. We are not yet cooking the eggs; we are bringing the eggs to proper cooking temperature. It would be better if they were at room temperature to start with.

If an egg is not floating in the water, it is a good age. If it floats in the water, it is a bad egg and should be discarded.

When the eggs appear to be at room temperature, turn the cook stove to “High” (or build up the cooking fire) and get the water, with the good eggs in it, to boil. If you start off with room temperature eggs, put them in the tap water and bring the water to a boil with the eggs in it.

When the water starts to boil, add two (2) tablespoons of salt to the water.

Boil the eggs, water, and salt for twenty (20) minutes.

Turn off the stove.

Using hot pads or oven mitts, put the pan with the eggs and the salt and the water under a faucet in the kitchen, or wherever you do these kinds of things,

Turn on the cold water and let it run into the pan with the eggs, salt, and water until the water and the eggs are about room temperature, or cooler.

Remove eggs from the now cold water and dry them.

The shells will (should—this is not a precise science) come off of the eggs very easily without having to be pried off in a manner that disfigures the eggs and annoys you.

NB. It is anticipated that there will be all sorts of ill informed commentary on the above method of producing perfect boiled eggs. These will (may) include suggestions that 5 (five) minutes of boiling the eggs is enough, or that one should use vinegar, instead of salt, to create easy shell removal, or that the eggs should not be put into the water until the water is boiling. If you wish to test Edwin’s Theory of Boiling the Best Eggs, you are free to do so. This is not cultish material. Test out the other ways. Try to falsify the Edwinian way. That is how science works. Let us know the results of your experimentation.

Edwin
Edwin Kagin © 2012.
(Permission is hereby given to reproduce the foregoing, without profit, so long as credit is given.
If you make money on it, I want some of it. Edwin)

21 comments

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  1. 1
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Personally, I favour a more zen-like approach:
    The best way to boil an egg is not to boil it. Heat to 70 degrees C and keep hot until done (time varies with heating method, amount of water, vessel and stove of course.

  2. 2
    Rod

    Well, you specify 2 tablespoons of salt, but not how many eggs, nor how much water. Kinda hard to replicate the experiment.

    1. 2.1
      Edwin Kagin

      As many eggs as you like that will fit on the bottom of the pan.
      Use enough water to cover the eggs and to insure that the water will not boil away and no longer cover the eggs while they are being boiled.

  3. 3
    bcmystery

    Perhaps this qualifies as “ill-informed” commentary, but my own experience testing egg boiling methods indicates this recipe will produce tough, rubbery eggs. 20 minutes at a full boil is a very long time. If you have the good fortune to have quality eggs (either from your own hens or from a reputable farm), you’ll miss out on how good they can be if you overcook them. If you want an egg you can bounce off the kitchen floor though, 20 minutes will do it.

    Personally, I like six-minute eggs. Start with room temperature eggs in salted tap water and heat on medium high until boiling. After six minutes, the yolks will be just set but still custardy. If you like a firmer yolk, take it to eight minutes. Any longer and the whites start to rubberize, and the yolks get grainy.

    For what it’s worth, I did a lot of experimenting on this after a friendly bicker with my wife ended in a bet. She won the bet (I used to think an egg had to boil for at least 15 minutes), but in the process I learned how to boil a luscious egg.

    1. 3.1
      Who Knows?

      Yes, I was surprised at the 20 minute boil, an egg boiled for 20 minutes would be long gone. Your 6 to 8 minutes is much more in line with how to boil eggs. Personally, I bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the pan on the burner for about 10 minutes. Halt the cooking with a cold water bath and I get a firm yolk and tender whites.

  4. 4
    Don F

    There’s nothing new here!

    Tha’s the way I’ve ALWAYS done them — ’cause tha’s the way Mom told me how to back about 50 years ago. She never kept eggs in the ‘fridge unless they were fertilized: like most of the eggs from the store.

    (Oh yeah; older eggs are better for boiling, ’cause the shells come off easier.)

  5. 5
    Chris

    That is exactly how I always did it until I found a better way.
    In a rice cooker, place a couple of wet tissues or a wet hand towel. Place a couple of eggs on top. Room temperature, or cold, it doesn’t matter. Turn on the cooker, and when it pops, about seven minutes later, remove the eggs and place in cold water until cool. That’s it! Perfect creamy yolks and easy to peel. Leave steaming in the cooker for a minute or two if you prefer harder yolks.

  6. 6
    jamessweet

    Wow, you opened a Pandora’s box here… 20 minutes?!? Yeesh… I can only assume you prefer very dry yolks.

    Allow me to present my two favorite methods for producing hard-cooked eggs, one which is finicky but produces the best eggs (IF one likes tender yolks, which you clearly don’t!), and other which produces eggs that are almost as good and require almost no effort (but has the disadvantage of requiring special equipment — an electric kettle — and only being able to do 4 or 5 eggs at a time).

    Method #1, credit to Alice Waters: Bring the water to a simmer BEFORE adding the eggs. Reduce heat until you are actually just below a simmer (still BEFORE adding the eggs), and then add the eggs. If it’s below a simmer, the eggs shouldn’t crack when you add them. Maintain the just-below-simmer temperature (that’s the tricky part) for 9 minutes, then shock the eggs in ice water. If done properly, you will get the creamiest, moistests, most tender yolks you will ever achieve. It is just on the verge of soft-boiled.

    Method #2, credit to Alton Brown: Put up to four eggs in an electric kettle. Add cold or lukewarm-ish water to cover the eggs by about an inch, then simultaneously turn your kettle on and set your timer (see below for amount of time). The kettle will come to a boil and shut off before your timer runs out, but just leave it alone, let ‘em sit in the kettle. When the timer runs out, shock the eggs in ice water.

    Alton recommends 15 minutes, we find we prefer 12 minutes. It depends on your personal taste, and possibly on your kettle (I imagine), so you may need to experiment.

    Neither method provides eggs that are particularly easy to peel, especially if they are very fresh, and I suspect avoiding that problem is the main advantage of Edwin’s questionable method. But it’s worth it for that magical moist golden almost-running yolk.

  7. 7
    roddg

    That works if you live close to sea level where the boiling temp of water is close to 212 F (100 C). I live at around 9000′ altitude where the boiling point is a bit over 195 F. I like to use start off with cold water and bring it to a boil, take it off heat and cover the pan, and let it sit for about 12 min. Finally chill the eggs in an ice water bath. I also like to use older eggs. I get fresh eggs quite often from local producers, and the shell sticks every time I use them.

  8. 8
    davidparmenter

    The sciency cooks over at America’s Test Kitchen recommend the following.
    1. Cover eggs with 1 inch of water.
    2. Bring to a boil.
    3. Cover, remove from heat, let stand for ten minutes.
    4. That is all.

  9. 9
    ovdlk

    Hello,

    1 hour at 72° C.

    Already scientificaly experimented by Herve This at INRA, France.

    Thx

  10. 10
    Chandrese

    I am the deviled egg maker in my family for family gatherings and we get together A LOT. Through huge amounts of trial and results, the following gets me perfect hard boiled egg every time, with a 90% +/- success rate of shells that easily slip off, leaving undamaged whites. I generally use jumbo eggs.

    Room temperature eggs are VITAL. Set out the eggs, preferably on a plate so the carton doesn’t keep the bottom cooler. Mine are out for a minimum of 3 hours.

    Put eggs in large pot in a single layer.

    Add tap water to just cover eggs.

    Add 1-2 tsp salt.

    Bring eggs to a boil, put on the pot lid, and let them boil with the lid on for 1 minute.

    Turn the heat off, keep the pot on the burner, and let the eggs sit in the water for 12 minutes with the lid still on.

    Set pot in sink, run water to cool, peel immediately (or can be stored in fridge and will still peel easily).

    Voila.

    I’ve tried numerous times the “boil them for X amount of minutes” method and for me it has never resulted in eggs that could be easily peeled.

  11. 11
    Roberta

    Actually, if you would go to the Easter Egg hunts, you would find out that the only solution to being able to easily peel a hard boiled egg is to use older (not rotten, just older) eggs. The more fresh an egg is, the harder it will be to peel. This is always a topic of conversation at my church breakfast on Easter morning.

  12. 12
    _Arthur

    The cooling with running water at the end is to prevent the white of the eggs from taking an unappetizing blueish tinct.

    As many have already observed, this is a recipe for hard-boiled eggs. Soft-boiled eggs are much more pleasant for breakfast and require a considerably shorter boil that 20 minutes!

  13. 13
    movablebooklady

    Almost perfect eggs every time (I do a dozen at a time and then use them in salads, sandwiches, soups).

    Older eggs are better (2-3 weeks).
    Room temperature vital.
    Pan of water (big enough to have eggs in one layer)
    Spin eggs on counter to center the yolks
    Put in pan and put on high burner
    Bring to rolling boil
    Remove from burner and put lid on
    Let steep for 20 minutes (adjust for elevation)
    Cool quickly under tap water (or shock with ice water)
    Refrigerate

    Voila! and Ta Da!

  14. 14
    JanaTheVeganPiranha

    Try the vegan way- don’t eat eggs!

    Haha, there always has to be an extremist in the group somewhere.

  15. 15
    revjimbob

    Boiling an egg for 20 minutes? Is that an American thing?
    One of the UK’s finest cooks (so they say) – Heston Blumenthal recently gave his recipe for perfect boiled egg:
    Room temperature eggs brought to boil. As soon as they come to the boil switch off heat, and leave in water on cooker for six minutes. Not quite ‘hard boiled’, but perfect.

    1. 15.1
      andrewkiener

      No, 20 min is way longer than I’ve ever heard.

  16. 16
    andrewkiener

    Just chiming in to second (or third) the “boil and then turn off heat” method. I’ve made a big batch of pickled eggs about once a month for years, so I’m working with a decent data set. Room temp is critical, eggs and tepid water in the pan, bring to a rolling boil, cover, turn off heat and wait. With my cast-iron pan and two dozen eggs, 11 minutes is about perfect – like others have said, creamy whites and smooth yolk. If you get the green layer on the yolk, they got too hot.

    Might try the rice-cooker method; seems like the same basic idea with less to attention required.

  17. 17
    winking.demon

    I have discovered a solution to the “old eggs are better” problem. If you have fresh eggs, cook them up as you prefer, but when they are done put them in ICE water. Really, with cubes, a nice cold shock. Eggs from our farmer’s market were unpeelable before I discovered this, now they peel as easy and clean as can be.

    1. 17.1
      andrewkiener

      I’ve tried that a couple times, never been able to get it to work. Might not have used enough ice… Old eggs work ok. Honestly, given the number of eggs I’ve peeled, I really oughta be better at it by now :-).

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