For me, cooking the perfect hard-boiled egg has always been a hit-or-miss undertaking – cracked eggs with whites oozing out of the shell in strange formations, egg yolks rimmed in green. And the number one question: How do I peel an egg so that half of the whites don’t stick to the shell?
Do I start by dropping raw eggs in a pan with cold water or boiling water? Saucepan top on or off? Exactly how long do I cook the eggs? Do I add salt or baking soda? Between researching on the web and personal validation in my kitchen, I got my answers.
I’ve experimented with several cooking methods, and here’s my all-time favorite: Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Lower the eggs into the pot and boil vigorously for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover pot with the lid, and cook another 10 minutes. While the eggs are cooking, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice.
Pour off the hot water, leaving the eggs in the pot. If using a steamer basket (my favorite method), lift out the basket, then return eggs to the pan. Shake the pan gently until the shells are lightly cracked.Pour the ice water into the pan with eggs and let stand no less than 15 minutes. The longer they stay in the ice bath, the easier they are to peel.
Slightly crack the fat end of the egg and peel away a small portion of the shell. Slide the tip of your finger around the shell until it’s removed. Another method is to slide a spoon under the shell, making sure the curve of the spoon follows the curve of the egg.
Mom always poured a tablespoon or so of salt (measured in the palm of her hand, of course) into the water before the eggs. She said it helped to seal any cracks in the shell and made the peeling a bit easier, so I’ve always done the same. I checked it out and yep, she knew what she was talking about.
The salt raises the boiling point of water – meaning the water boils at a higher temperature, causing the egg white to cook faster and in turn, preventing the yolk from overcooking. If the shell starts to crack, the salt helps it to seal faster. And here’s the big advantage: Salt makes peeling the egg easier!
Here’s to hassle-free egg boiling! If you have any other tricks of the trade, I’d love to hear about them!