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What in the world is a "perfect" hard boiled egg?

ipsedixit Mar 31, 2008 10:07 PM

Is the egg white supposed to be soft like gelatin? Or, more rubbery? Closer to the consistency of, say, boiled squid??

And the yolk? How should the yolk be in order for the egg to be "perfect"?

  1. h
    Harters Apr 15, 2008 03:50 PM

    Any Brit will tell you (I expect) that the perfect hard boiled egg is cooked through; encased in sausage meat; egg and breadcrumbed; and then deep fried. We call it a Scotch Egg. A thing of wonder and delight :-0

    3 Replies
    1. re: Harters
      Kagey Apr 16, 2008 01:30 AM

      Yes! I'll second that. One of my favorite discoveries upon moving to England.

      1. re: Harters
        pharmnerd Apr 16, 2008 02:19 PM

        Sounds awesome. Like a sausage McMuffin on deep fried steroids.

        1. re: Harters
          Tehama Apr 17, 2008 04:49 PM

          Oh my god... I LOVE scotch eggs. There used to be a restr. in Raleigh that had them on the apptz menu.... I have not had them in so long. http://www.mrbreakfast.com/superdispl...

        2. s
          Sunnidae Apr 15, 2008 11:19 AM

          Reading this article totally changed my views on hard-boiled (or cooked) eggs. It's a really fascinating breakdown of what happens to an egg in different temperatures.


          (I'll admit, I still just simmer water, then put in eggs and turn off the heat, letting it sit for about 10 minutes, for a nice soft egg)

          1. a
            anzu Apr 14, 2008 05:18 PM

            I know this doesn't help you (though I agree w/ KaimukiMan, that it should be well-cooked so there is no yolk softness, but then again, I hate egg yolk), but my "perfect" hard boiled egg is either one I find in oden (Japanese style stew? hot pot? I don't know what to call it.) or a tea egg. :)

            1. scuzzo Apr 14, 2008 05:15 PM

              ...one that someone else already peeled!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: scuzzo
                alkapal Apr 14, 2008 06:10 PM

                i was gonna say: "one that is deviled!" ;-)

              2. Karl S Apr 11, 2008 07:13 AM

                I am fussy in the I prefer mine medium well done - that is, firm, but with the yolk still being a creamy (but cooked) saffron orange rather than a crumbly yellow.

                1. p
                  pharmnerd Apr 11, 2008 12:21 AM

                  I use the America's Test Kitchen method that's similar to janniecook's method, but I often have problems with the shell/membrane sticking to the egg. How do I prevent this? Why does this happen? I've tried removing the shell while egg's hot, cold, under water, etc, but still happens.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: pharmnerd
                    Kagey Apr 11, 2008 02:37 AM

                    One trick is to use eggs that aren't brand new. Lots of people on this board have said that older eggs (anywhere from a few days to a week or two) peel much more easily, and I've found it to be true in my experience, too. I usually hard-boil all my leftover eggs from the week before (the ones that didn't go into cakes and other dishes).

                    1. re: Kagey
                      pharmnerd Apr 12, 2008 09:01 AM

                      Will try it, thanks.

                      1. re: pharmnerd
                        janniecooks Apr 14, 2008 12:56 PM

                        Interestingly I find that shells are most difficult to remove from Eggland's Best. Maybe they're delivered to the markets sooner and are so more fresh than the non-branded eggs; the generic supermarket eggs do seem to be easier to peel. Always peel under water, possibly even running water (I have a well so I don't use running water). By using a bowl or pot of water I can usually see the membrane kind of floating just above the surface of the white and I'll try to rub it free of the white to get water underneath it and thus release the shell. I figure when the shell or membrane are difficult to remove it is due to the age of the egg - there's no other tricks I'm aware of.

                  2. Tehama Apr 2, 2008 03:35 PM

                    I always have used my mom's (and grandmamma's) method with perfect results.

                    First, you must use an enamel cooking pot of some description. (use a glass pot if you absolutely have to, but nothing else will suffice). Bring eggs to boil in cold water. Cut surface unit off once the water begins to boil. Leave for 20 minutes on the eye.

                    NOW I HAVE A QUESTION for everyone: how long can you keep hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Tehama
                      saltwater Apr 2, 2008 06:49 PM

                      A week. They are more perishable than uncooked eggs.

                      1. re: saltwater
                        bigjimbray Apr 2, 2008 10:45 PM

                        when I boil my potatoes for potato salad, I usually put about 5-6 lg. eggs
                        in with the potatoes, when the spuds are done I put the eggs in cold water
                        for about 5 minutes before I peel them. And so far they have came out perfect
                        for me and they are alot easier to peel.

                        1. re: bigjimbray
                          alkapal Apr 10, 2008 06:29 PM

                          nice trick, and saves energy!

                    2. m
                      mpalmer6c Apr 1, 2008 08:36 PM

                      As you can see from the comments, "perfect" varies from person to person. Try this: Bring large eggs to a boil in cold water, and simmer (don't boil) for 12 minutes. Then put in a container of cold tap water several times. If that doesn't suit you, just vary the time.

                      1. sarah galvin Apr 1, 2008 07:36 PM

                        I didn't know it was so difficult to boil an egg. Mine are usually in the fridge, so I start them in cold water so they don't crack. Then I put it on to boil and read the newspaper. About 3 or 4 minutes later (or maybe more) I take the egg out of the water and spin it on the counter top. If it spins fast, it's a hard boiled egg. If it spins slow, it's a soft boiled egg. If it is soft boiled and I want it harder cooked, I just let it sit for a minute out of the water. They are almost always perfect. Occassionally a bit on the soft side but I like that better than on the too hard side.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sarah galvin
                          rworange Apr 2, 2008 10:34 AM

                          Nice tip about spinning

                          1. re: sarah galvin
                            Smileelisa Apr 11, 2008 02:09 AM

                            What an interesting idea! I have never heard that method before. I will have to try it for my husband. Thanks for the great tip!

                            1. re: Smileelisa
                              FrankJBN Apr 14, 2008 01:17 PM

                              Actually the spinning method does not work that well when one is spinning two cooked eggs.

                              Leaving aside the difficulty in applying the same amount of force to each spin, there is a relatively easily discerned difference between a raw egg and a hardboiled egg.

                              However, with a soft-cooked egg, the yolk is already in a much firmer 'suspension' and will not serve to change inertial force as it does in a raw egg.

                              The test is really unnecessary - when one takes an egg out after 3 or 4 minutes, one has a soft boiled egg. It's only when one gets to the "maybe more" time frame that things are less well-known.

                          2. saltwater Apr 1, 2008 05:22 PM

                            Sigh. For me, one does not exist. You see, I grew up eating over-cooked ones, so I hated the dry yellow and would eat the whites because I was hungry and they were still edible. Over time, I grew to like the whites like that. Now that I cook them myself, I don't overcook them, so I have found that the yellow is quite delicious. But when I cook the yellow how I like, well, then the white is nice and tender, without a trace of the beloved rubbery-ness I grew to like in my youth.

                            So tell me, how do I make a hard boiled egg with rubbery, over-cooked whites, while keeping the yellow nice and creamy?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: saltwater
                              ccbweb Apr 1, 2008 07:30 PM

                              You make one set the way you like the whites and one set the way you like the yolks, then make a franken-hard-boiled-egg and slice them open, swap yolks and....well, make egg salad out of the bits you don't want to eat as hard cooked eggs.

                              I use Michael Roux's method....cover eggs in cold water, place over medium heat and bring to a boil...boil at a full boil for 6 minutes then immediately drain and run under cold water. My wife likes to kill the heat at 6 minutes and let them sit in the hot water for another 3 minutes, then run under cold water. I'm fortunate to enjoy both the white and yolk from this technique.

                              1. re: ccbweb
                                saltwater Apr 1, 2008 07:53 PM

                                A franken-egg. The child in me loves that idea. :) I could even stick in two toothpicks at a crazy angle to signify how it is sewn together haphazardly.

                              2. re: saltwater
                                louweezy Apr 2, 2008 09:42 PM

                                Honestly, I know everyone seems to want to try & research & experiment to find the best way to get a perfectly cooked hard boiled egg, but I make them 99% of the time with almost no effort whatsoever. I bought a salton egg cooker.
                                Apparently this link shows it's currently unavailable, but perhaps you could find one elsewhere. I am on my second one, it's the best.


                              3. j
                                janniecooks Apr 1, 2008 05:22 AM

                                And you make a perfect hard-boiled egg by following this method I learned from Julia Child's cookbooks: put cold eggs in a sauce pan, cover with cold water by an inch or two, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When boiling point has been reached, cover the pan tightly, remove from heat, and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drain eggs, vigorously shake the saucepan to crack the shells a bit, then run cold water over them until the pan is cold. Let the eggs sit in cold water till cool enough to peel, or cool them more quickly by adding ice.

                                To peel, hold a teaspoon at the bottom end and tap the back of the spoon against the shell to crack the egg shells all over. Starting at the large end (where the air bubble usually is) and holding the egg under water or under running water, begin peeling the shell away. Usually the shell will come off in a spiral. Older eggs peel much easier than fresh eggs.

                                Following Julia's method will give you tender whites and just cooked through yolks. Perfect!

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: janniecooks
                                  MMRuth Apr 1, 2008 05:27 AM

                                  I've tried her method and, for me, the yolks are too cooked.

                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                    janniecooks Apr 1, 2008 05:35 AM

                                    Maybe it's all in the timing; when I cook eggs this way I always get a bit of a soft center, almost but not quite soft - still a bit translucent. I don't use high heat to get it to a boil, and I watch closely to clamp on the lid and remove fro heat the moment I get to a boil. I've tried the simmering method and this one works best for me.

                                    1. re: janniecooks
                                      MMRuth Apr 1, 2008 05:37 AM

                                      I should correct what I wrote - I use her method, I just cut the timing down from 15 minutes to 12. Now that I read what you wrote more carefully, I also think I've probably been bringing the water to the boil on high heat (not her method!), which may account for the difference.

                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                        grant.cook Apr 1, 2008 06:25 AM

                                        Buy a circulating immersion heater for $800, cook them at 140deg for an hour.. of course, that's a bit hardcore..

                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                          goodhealthgourmet Apr 1, 2008 06:34 AM

                                          it also depends on the size of the egg. we discussed this not too long ago...


                                          as for consistencty...gotta have tender white and creamy, just-barely-cooked-through yolk.

                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                            aelph Apr 2, 2008 07:09 PM

                                            I use Child's method and agree on 12 minutes, not 15. This gives you(depending on those irritating vagaries) perfect yolks to yolks slightly translucent.

                                      2. re: janniecooks
                                        Patrincia Apr 1, 2008 04:33 PM

                                        I think 10 minutes is long enough for large eggs - aside from that, I agree completely. Also, older eggs are easier to peel than fresh ones.

                                        1. re: Patrincia
                                          trolley Apr 15, 2008 04:10 PM

                                          patrinicia, don't you post on rose beranbaum's site? i recognize your name. it's cool! anyway, i follow the cooks illustrated recipe which essentially the same as julia childs except you leave the eggs in for 10 minutes. i have never had an over or undercooked egg this way.

                                      3. j
                                        JockY Mar 31, 2008 10:25 PM

                                        The white should be soft and tender - not rubbery which is a sign of overcooking. The yolk should be firm but not dry and should not have a green tint around the edge caused by sulphur trapped inside the shell.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JockY
                                          KaimukiMan Apr 10, 2008 07:09 PM

                                          nasty nasty nasty....

                                          i hate soft eggs in any form. the white should always be rubbery, and should have a STRONG green tint around the edge of the yolk, which should be quite dry. If not, throw them out and start over.

                                          and yes, when i scramble eggs i cook them till they have just barely started to brown.

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