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Hard Boiled Eggs

My wife & I have tried just about every method known. We still can't perfect this simple culinary task. Any suggestions? Do the type of eggs matter? Tap vs. filtered water? Does the pot matter?
For the record, we buy XLarge (Vegetarian Fed) Brown Eggs from Trader Joes.

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  1. I'm not sure what your problem is, but often times the best hard boiled eggs result from older eggs, not fresher.

    I boil water (tap), add my eggs, put on the lid, take off of heat, then let sit for 15 minutes. Never a problem, and as I said, peeling is easiest with the older ones...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      The air sac at one end of the egg gets larger as the egg gets older. Perhaps this is why they are easier to peel.

      1. re: sweetie

        Ya learn something every day! Thanks sweetie!

    2. Here's what you do-
      Put your eggs (cold, straight from the fridge) in a pot and fill with cold water from the tap.
      Bring to a boil uncovered, then turn the flame off. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Peel + enjoy.

      This will give you lovely bright yellow yolks, every time.

      25 Replies
      1. re: sueshungry

        Just a coupla tweaks to this, Bring pot with eggs to boil. Take off heat, COVER pot and let sit 17 minutes, Use a timer. Plunge eggs into icy water and peel.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          Maria Lorraine,this is my method, too...also, for easier peeling because I am all thumbs, I gently "Crack" the eggshells before the cold water plunge. It makes them easier to peel, I find. Usually works perfectly, with nicely done yellow (not discolored) yolks.

          1. re: thegolferbitch

            Totally agree and it is most important that you NEVER boil an egg

            1. re: Candy

              Why? Hasn't been any problem for my hard boiled eggs.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                When you cook an egg, hard or at a high temperature it toughens the white. If you bake an egg baked custard pie, like lemon meringue at too high a temperature you will get something called synuresis, in other words weepiness and a wet pie. Unless you are making an omlette which wants to be cooked hot an d fast, low gentle temperatures are the way to go. The whites are tender the yolks will be creamy but firm.

                Have you ever tried the French method of scrambling eggs in a double boiler over simmering water? It takes a good half hour to prepare but they are the creamiest most delicious custardy scrambled eggs ever.

                1. re: Candy

                  Thanks C.

                  Will give the french method a whirl this weekend.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Be really patient and stir and stir and stir. The reward will be worth it. Usew some good butter in there too.

                  2. re: Candy

                    I haven't prepared scrambled eggs the "French way" - only because I'm usually way too hungry to wait!

                    And if you're cutting up the hard boiled egg for egg salad into small bits, I'm still not seeing the "tender white" reasoning. The whites hold together, and the yolks are firm, but not runny, when I cook hard-boiled eggs my way.

                  3. re: LindaWhit

                    Also, egg yolks tend to get discolored when you boil them, and the discoloration is a sulfur compound, which gives some hardboiled eggs that funky smell and taste.

                    The method described by sueshungry above is an excellent method and will avoid this.

                    1. re: Mr. Cookie

                      Interestingly, the Boston Globe's Food section yesterday (4/4/07) just had a whole article and recipes on hard-cooked/soft-cooked eggs.


                      Lots of links at the bottom of the page for more info as well.

                  4. re: Candy

                    I'm with LW, why not. I've been boiling them for 30 years (well not the same batch) and they never have a problem.

                    1. re: jfood

                      If it's good enough for jfood and Mrs. jfood, it's definitely good enough for me! :-)

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Thanks LW. Here's my secret to egg salad. I am a purist and only add Hellman's and S&P. But there was a problem I could not put my finger on. Then the Jfoods are with friends in Amagansett and doing a little shopping. The wife knows i like kitchen gadgets and pointed to that egg cutting thing. I thought it silly but could not figure out why. Then the lightbulb went off.

                        My normal method was de-shell, throw the whites and yolks in a bowl, hellman's S&P and mix. The whites got desroyed. So I split the task. I placed all the yolks in a bowl and mixed in the Hellmans and the s&p to a wonderful creamy sauce. Then I "diced" the whites to give them a texture that I could feel on the tongue. Lastly I folded the diced whites into the yolk mixture. This gave me the flavor I love, the creminess of the yolks and the firm texture of the white.

                        BTW, how unfortunate it was that Mrs Jfood made too many hard boiled eggs for Passover (I love that woman) and when I got home from work last night I had egg salad on Matzah. What a great app. :-))

                        1. re: jfood

                          I use the egg slicer as well - Slice 'em lengthwise, hold all the slices together as I remove the egg from the slicer, and then put it back on and dice them horizontally - so I get little squares/rectangles of egg white. But I do it to the whole egg - so the yolks get a bit chopped.

                          Then a gentle fold with *just enough* Cain's or Hellman's mayo, definitely S/P, and sometimes finely diced celery, with other seasonings to whatever whim I might be having. (Sandwich Sprinkle from Penzey's is always nice!)

                          And Mrs. jfood must love you as much as you love her, to make too many hard-boiled eggs. Nice coinky-dink and lucky you! :-)

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            see now i love the rustic mismatched chunks of egg. funny how we're all so different, kind of a good thing me thinks. :)

                            1. re: lollya

                              I very much agree with you lollya! Otherwise, we could just eat a pill that would fill us up and be done with it. :-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I use my pastry blender for egg salad.

                                I like the idea of separating the yolks from the whites and adding the dressing to the yolks.

                                1. re: mamaciita

                                  Pastry blender is fun for chunks. I've also had some fun results with using the big holes on the grater for both egg and dill pickle.

                2. re: maria lorraine

                  agree with this method completely, but i've been reducing the steep time. am down to about 8 minutes and the yolks are very fluffy.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Agree - though I'm about at 12 minutes - will try reducing it some more!

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I do 6 minutes, then drain and put in cold water. That works as well. After you drain them from the cold water (I let the cold water run over them for a minute), shake the pot so they bump into each other, which starts the cracking of the eggs.

                    2. re: maria lorraine

                      And my differentiation is bring eggs to boil from cold water, set timer and soft-boil for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and submerge the eggs in cold water until able to peel them.

                      Agree with the slightly older eggs as easier to peel.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        this is julia child's HB egg recipe...after trying it out, it became my standard as well...crack eggs and peel from the rounder end first, under running water...try to get under that thin membrane for ease...for deviled/stuffed egg recipes, i make a hole in the egg prior to cooking using a push-pin type thumb tack...for some reason the yolks come out in the center of the egg

                        bon appetit!


                        1. re: kleinfortlee

                          Does the white not seep out of the little hole when you cook the eggs?

                    3. What is the problem? Can't get them hard? too hard to peel? color of the yoke? cracking?

                      Old eggs peel easier.
                      A small hole in the shell can reduce cracking. Letting the eggs warm up before putting them in hot water may also help.
                      Discolored yoke is a sign of overcooking and/or too high heat. Cool them right away.

                      I buy the least expensive XLarge eggs at TJ. I tend to cook the last eggs in a box, right after getting a new one.


                      1. It seems as though there are various paths to get to the finish line regarding the creation of hard boiled eggs, but I feel that one thing needs to be stated regarding the handling of eggs after they are finished being cooked, and it is essential to facilitating the peeling off of the shells.

                        Once the eggs are cooked, either submerge them in cold water that hopefully also contains ice cubes, and let them sit there for a few minutes. I don't make ice cubes in the colder season, so I just let them sit in a sauce pan of cold water for about five minutes. It is amazing how easy the shells just separate from the egg. Shirley Corriher, the food scientist guru, I'm sure, could explain the chemical reason for this process.

                        I have found that if I don't let the eggs cool off enough, the shells stick to the whites, and as I am pulling off the shell, I wind up pulling off some of the whites.

                        Even though the eggs are sitting in a bath of cold water, the egg itself still stays warm.

                        There may be some other way to separate the shell from the egg easily without the cold water bath, but I find that with patience, this method works every time.

                        Also, if you overcook the eggs, you will find various colors forming around the edge of the yellow yolk (green?). I think Shirley Corriher mentioned somthing about the buildup of sulfuric acid in the process. She goes into detail about the chemistry of this process.

                        1. I always poke a tiny hole in each end before cooking.

                          1. Seems like we are shooting in the dark at a moving target. You have the peeling issue addressed so let me add a few other queries:

                            - Pot - Jfood made the mistake of using a stainless pot once. Mrs Jfood had no idea how I cooked them but when she tasted them she looked at me and said "these taste tinny. Anything different on how you made them?" So back to the white enameled pot went the Jfood method and the smile returned to Mrs Jfood's lovely face.
                            - Eggs themselves- We have been using Eggland's for years. In a fit of cheapness I bought two dozen at Costco before they started carrying Egglands. Cooked them up in the white enameled pot (hey, I ain't stupid) and onto the table. I received that cute little look from Mrs Jfood and I knew it was another uh-oh. I told her I bought the Costco eggs. Oops

                            BTW she was correct in both instances.

                            So in addition to the peeling method described by many, the eggs and the pot they came in on could be the culprit.

                            And one other thing, only Hellman's please.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jfood

                              Hello-I make mine in a rice cooker, perfect everytime.

                            2. Ahh....Boiled eggs... they bring out both the beauty and the frustration of meeting the mandates of basic physics and chemistry, compounded with the biology of the finest storage package in nature.

                              - Use eggs that are at least 1 week old. As the egg ages, the albumen (white) degrades every day, and so does the thin membrane between albumen and shell. 4 week eggs are fine. Check the 3-number Julian date on the end of the carton: April 4 is approximately 093, meaning 93 days since January 1. This is the "laid" date, a better calibrater than the "use by" date that varies with state laws.

                              - Cover eggs with one inch of tap water above eggs.

                              - Bring just to barely boil, then instantly turn off heat. I use a quick thermometer to stop
                              heating at 200. By keeping heat low, you minimize chance of green yolks.

                              - Timing: Critcal, and dependent on the variables of the size of vessel, ratio of water to eggs, size of eggs. Choose your large (for a dozen) and small (for a few) boiling vessels and track your doneness of yolk over a few tries for lifetime replication, depending on the way that you like your yolk. A published chart will help new boilers to calibrate, but make a note of successful timing that suits you.

                              - When done, dump hot water into sink, and swirl eggs in the now-dry pan, to crack them in several places by gentle contact. The cracks allow water to flow in during the shocking/immersion step.

                              - Shock in ice water that you've already prepped in a large bowl. Yes. Immediately. There's a LOT of thermal mass inside that egg, and the longer the reaction time at the yolk-albumen interface, the more time for for the inevitable reaction to form ferrous (iron) sulfide, the dreaded "green ring", to which throughout history only Dr Seuss has paid homage. Many folks simply dunk in water, and if that works for you, then do it. If it doesnt, then next time give them the ice. The 2 forces at work here are to 1) draw the heat out of the egg as quickly as possible, and 2) shock the interface between shell and albumen to facilitate separation. Ice does both things faster.

                              - Peel under a small stream of water at the sink. You may need to crack further to find a good starting place. I like to do a crack near the fat pole, where the air pocket has developed, giving you room to see the subcutaneous membrane. The START of the peeling process is the most important: use your finger to find a place that peels clean and brings the subcutaneous thin embrane with it without pulling any firm white. Then, use this membrane as your guide to places that lift easily.

                              - Once eggs are shelled, they rapidly decompose, and should be used within a few days.

                              - If making large quantities of hard boiled, as for deviled aggs at the picnic, here's a trick for getting perfectly centered yolks: Store the container on its side, and flip to other side next day. The yolk is suspended by a cable (chalaza) that runs from the yolk to each pole. When stored vertically, as they ship in containers from the store, the cables do not operate as fully to center the yolk. You can augment this process by using chopsticks to rotate the eggs during early minutes of cooking.

                              - Harold MacGee 1984 "On Food and Cooking" has a wonderful 20-or-so page treatise on the devolopment of the perfect package of the egg.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Alton Brown says to put eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, and cover the pan. Remove from heat and wait: Eight minutes will give you a slightly soft yolk, twelve minutes for hard. Peel under cold water.

                                I usually put eggs in cold water, once it starts simmering, I lower the heat to keep the water at a bare simmer for eight minutes - this gives me a very soft yolk. I've never tried simply removing it from heat once it starts to boil, but I'll give it a shot. I'm curious to see the difference.

                                1. I'm not trying to be a spoilsport or anything, but, I know cooking is important, & I know how ya can spend a lifetime trying to perfect something.
                                  I gave up on the HB egg thing & broke down, spent $25, & got a salton egg cooker. One can make, soft, med, or HB eggs, & I can honestly say, being on my second appliance, that it works perfectly every single time. No matter what kind of egg one uses. It's especially nice for parties when deviled eggs are called for , or just a batch of egg salad. I Can't say enough good things about it.

                                  1. You're getting lots of good advice. I just wanted to chime in that you aren't the only one who can't make a boiled egg. I can't either. My contribution is to ensure we have the right kind of eggs in the house at least 3 days before they need to be cooked.

                                    Fortunately my husband can do eggs really well (he can do everything, it's annoying but useful). Yes, there is the magic egg boiling pot -- it's metal, enamelled. Then after the eggs are brought to a boil, the lid goes on, the burner is turned off, the pot comes off the burner and the timer goes on for 10 minutes. Timer rings, eggs are dumped into an ice bath. If refridgerated, the eggs are soaked in hot water for a few minutes after coming out of the fridge . . . for the perfect peel (personally, I think the perfect peel comes from my contribution of aging the eggs, but he believes it's the hot bath and I'm not really in a position to argue).

                                    btw, bringing the eggs to a boil for 45 minutes is NOT the way to do it, apparently

                                    1. What a useful thread. I can do French sauces, anything with guts and funny meat bits, "real" Japanese food, and more, but never knew nor suspected until the other day that I didn't know how to do hard boiled eggs. I made a batch along the lines of the posts above to take night fishing last night. Fantastic. My addition was a small bottle of ground dried chili, freshly ground black pepper, and salt to shake onto the eggs in the dark. Great eggs. Thank you all.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        What I do so that the egg never sticks to the egg shell, is fill the pot so the eggs are completly submerged, then bring it to a rolling boil. Be careful not to put too many eggs it lowers the temperature of the water too much and throws the cooking time off.
                                        Gently with a spaghetti fork that cradles the eggs in between the prongs, place the egg and gently roll it out intot the water. I boil for 10 minutes and shut the heat off, let them sit for 2 minutes and run cold water over them until they are cool. They never stick, and the yellow of the yolk is a nice bright color. No green!
                                        I hate it when I lose half the egg to sticking to the shell, this has eliminated that problem no matter how fresh or what the expiration date is.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                                          Dang! Night fishin' and boiled eggs? You too?

                                          Sounds like you're ready for the next step in angling-ovo-ecstasy: the semisoft-semihard boiled egg. Portable, and cutable, but the yolk done to perfection, ranging from a semisolid bright orange center to a barely yellowed perimeter.

                                          In my standard pan, it's a 7 minute sit after bringing to 200 F. Remember that the ferrous sulfide reaction sets in at 180 F at the albumen-yolk interface. Also, the albumen is more rubbery if cooked at high temps more protein denaturing). Go for an orange center that expands and radiates to a deep yellow, with a wavelength right at 580 nanometers http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/kno...

                                          As to the ingestion event, I find that using one gram of mayonnaise per bite, then adding a dry seasoning such as yours, intensifies the tantric experience of the night-croaking frogs and the rise and swell of the gently rocking boat.

                                          Happy fishin'.

                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                            I'm with you. Going to do it--semi-soft/semi-hard is next.

                                            BIG HUG (and to anyone who appreciates night fishing and boiled eggs!

                                            We got four cachama, 7-8 lbs total, great fun!

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              (Posthumous reply for Sam):

                                              With all of our lakes, we enjoy catching Bass
                                              and the eggs we devour do sure give us Gas.

                                              May your fishing reel whirl with a wristfull of passion...
                                              I trust you are angling somewhere.

                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            i'm a total addict but i have to have, have to have, tabasco with my hb eggs, on the trout stream or in a bistro. ha! (I finally resorted to carrying a small bottle of tabasco with me on my breakfast jaunts in paris for my cafe creme, slice baguette and a hb egg). and oh, standing over a sink with a hb egg, pinch of sea salt and a shake of tabasco.....

                                          3. A few additional tips:

                                            Older eggs peel much easier.

                                            Shock the eggs in ice water after you've cooked them.

                                            1. I agree, shock them and crack them in ice water just after cooking. Peel easy every time. I usually let them sit in the cold water after cracking them. I always thought that the cold water getting inbetween the shell and egg so quickly after cooking must be why it was peeling so easily - because it never happened that way before.

                                              1. Hard Boiled Eggs:

                                                Life is too short to worry about hard boiled eggs to solve your problem buy Egglands Best Hard Cooked and Peeled Eggs. Eggland's does all the work for you....they are the great tasting EB shell eggs only they cook'em & peel'em for you so you get the great taste and nutrition of Eggland's Best with convenience too. Look for them in the dairy case in your supermarket.

                                                A lover of hard cooked eggs