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Jan 8, 2008 07:52 AM

Reducing sulfur in hard boiled eggs?

Any tips for reducing sulfur in hard boiled eggs?

Am I cooking them too long?

I was using organic eggs for the first time. Do they have a higher sulfur content?

Is there something I could add to egg salad that would neutralize the sulfur?

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  1. Yes, if you get a dark green ring around the yolk, you are cooking too long and too hot. Put the eggs in cold water. Bring quickly to a boil over high heat. Immediately take off heat, cover and let sit for 11 minutes. Move to an ice water bowl to cool. These will be perfect hard boiled eggs...

    7 Replies
    1. re: bnemes3343

      You know, I've use this method a millions times, but every time I see a rec for it, the times are different. I believe both Julia Child & Martha Stewart use 15 min. I recall methods calling for 13 mins. I generally go for 14 mins - I used 11 mins once and ended up with eggs just the other side of cooked, which weren't bad but did not make for good deviled eggs.

      I'm guessing all the timing differences signify differing altitudes people live at? Anyone know? (Not to hijack the thread or anything, so in the spirit of that, I will state to the OP that he does try the "cold boil" method to see if there is a reduction of sulphur.)

      1. re: Ali

        I think the key is really to get them off the heat as soon as the water comes to a boil. Beyond that I have varied the times from 11 to 15 minutes, with the shorter times yielding a somewhat creamier/softer (but still cooked) yolk. My wife prefers the 13 - 15 min. eggs. I would imagine that altitute could make a difference though. I live on the East Coast. Not sure how this would work in Denver...

        1. re: Ali

          I think part of it depends on the pot you use. I leave it for less time in an All Clad pot than a cheap, thin pot.

          1. re: Ali

            actually, the time differences are guidelines for the various sizes of eggs. 11 min for medium, 13 for large, 15 for x-large, and 17 for jumbo.

            i always start mine in cold water, heat as quickly as possible, and as soon as it barely comes up to a rolling boil, remove from heat immediately. let stand covered for the appropriate time [11-17 ins], and plunge into ice water bath until cool enough to handle & peel.

            never had an overcooked egg, a green ring, or any issue with sulfur odor. works perfectly every time.

            btw, i think one of the biggest problems is that people still call them "hard-boiled" eggs, and therefore believe [erroneously] that you need to boil the eggs. they really should be hard-cooked, not hard-boiled.

            1. re: Ali

              I think initial temp of the eggs _and_ how many eggs you're cooking at a time has much to do with standing times using this method. We eat a lot of hard cooked eggs in preps as well as out of hand, so I'm generally doing a dozen at a time, right from the fridge.

              Cover with cold water, bring to boil, take off heat and cover, let stand 18 minutes.

              Pot of eggs goes under cold running water for about 5 minutes, shake pot to crack shells and peel, still under cold (gently) running water.

            2. re: bnemes3343

              I would like to know how people who use this method peel their freaking eggs. Ever since I started doing eggs this way instead of boiling them the whole time, I have an AWFUL time peeling them. I have tried 3 different kinds of eggs - my local purveyor, eggland's best and regular grocery store eggs and each time they are IMPOSSIBLE to peel without pulling off huge bits of white.

              I never had this problem peeling them when I cooked them the old, unfancy way of boiling them the whole time.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                I'm Really sorry you had problems peeling our eggs!
                We often find that if an Eggland's Best egg isn't peeling easily it just needs an extra couple of minutes on the boil. For large eggs try putting them in a pan of water and bring them to a rapid boil. Then turn down the heat to a slow boil and boil for 12 minutes. Take one out and run it under cold water and check if it peels easily. If not pop it back in and boil the eggs for an extra couple of minutes. Very fresh eggs ( and we pride ourselves on our freshness) do not peel quite as easily as eggs that have been in the refrigerator for a few days but boiling them for an extra couple of minutes should solve that too.
                Thanks for using Eggland's Best!
                Rachel at Eggland's Best

            3. I usually use the organic, free-range eggs, and I haven't noticed that they are unusually sulfur-y. Of course, I think eggs should taste a little of sulfur because they're eggs, you know?

              I typically bring water to the boil, lower eggs gently into water, boil for 11 minutes, then remove and put IMMEDIATELY into an ice bath.

              1 Reply
              1. re: heatherkay

                Yep, while the eggs are steeping (I use 17 minutes for flaky, bright yellow yolks), I get the bowl of ice and ice water immediately. Let the eggs sit 10 minutes in the cold water. The skins come off as easy as a tangerine then.

              2. I think there are as many "right" ways to boil eggs as there are people doing it! I've followed at least six different procedures, each touted as THE perfect way to achieve THE perfect egg, some dirt simple and some really complicated (see Julia Child's "The Way To Cook"!), and they all do in fact make a perfect egg if you follow directions...and, in every case, no matter which method you follow, if the eggs are really fresh they won't peel worth a damn, and if they're a little old they will. Period.

                I'm currently following the method in the new(ish) Gourmet cookbook: cover eggs with water, partially cover pan. Bring water just barely to a rolling boil, cover the pan for 30 seconds, then take the pan off the heat and let sit fifteen minutes. Then do the ice-water plunge. No green rings, no sulfur stink, and if the egg's peelable it'll peel.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  Despite all of the variations, these all sound very, very similiar. Bring to temp and then let them sit off heat for various times depending on the size of the eggs and other things. Not really that much variation. I know one additional thing Jacque Pepin does is to shake the eggs back and forth in the pan after draining. This cracks the shells some and apparenly makes them easier to peel after the ice bath

                  1. re: bnemes3343

                    This is a great idea--I'll have to try it next time.

                2. i believe some people prick the large end of the egg with a pin before cooking to allow sulfur to escape and keep the egg from exploding during cooking. that said, i start my eggs in cold water and boil them for 10 minutes and then throw them in a colander and run under cold water until the they don't feel warm anymore. i've tried the method where you bring it to a boil and take it off the heat, cover and leave alone for X minutes and always seem to overcook them that way.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: soypower

                    The pin prick is used for immersing an egg into hot water -- it's for soft boiled eggs.
                    The purpose of the little hole at the wide end of the air (there's an air pocket there) is
                    to relieve the change in pressure inside the egg when it's placed into the boiling water.

                    Because HARD-boiled eggs are started in cold water, the pin prick isn't necessary.

                    Soypower, adding the ice bath at the end of the X minutes method is key. See above.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I learned the method of pricking the egg for hard cooking from Jacques Pepin, and it is done to reduce the sulfur. Keeps the yolk yellow. Also, 10 minutes is sufficient to cook the egg starting with cold water.

                      1. re: Neer

                        Are you saying -- is Jacques saying? -- that the hole allows the sulfur to dissipate and not build up to form the green ring on the yolk? Does that pass the food chemistry/science test?

                        If so, brava! But I'd like to know if that theory is credible and has been proven.

                        To my knowledge, and I am willing to edified further, the pin prick and resulting hole regulate air pressure. The hole equalizes the pressure between the interior and exterior of the egg and thus keeps the egg from cracking and little white streamers from forming (which then coagulate).

                        That's why the pin prick becomes critical for soft-boiled eggs, when the change in air pressure (and temperature) is extreme -- going from refrigerator-temp eggs to boiling water. For the same reason, the pin prick is not (as) necessary when refrigerator-temp eggs are placed in cold water and the temperature difference is minor.

                  2. Hard boiled eggs should not, name notwithstanding, be boiled.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Karl S

                      Why not, if you can get the same result? I've always boiled them, and I get the flaky yolk, I don't get any more than a egg-y whiff of sulfur, and no green ring. They peel easily. Is there some additional benefit that I'm missing?

                      1. re: heatherkay

                        Boiling increases the risks of those things, as well as the breaking of the shell before the white has set. There's no need to boil, except if one can't spare an extra few minutes.

                        This is the reason hard-boiled eggs are more commonly referred to as hard-cooked eggs outside the US - because they aren't actually boiled.