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Apr 22, 2009 01:00 PM

Boiled Egg Frustration - Peeling

Is there a trick to getting the shell off? Sometimes mine comes off nicely. Other times it tears away a large part of the egg white. I am guilty of using different methods to boil eggs (i.e. boil then shock, bring to boil then let sit for a while, etc) but have not scientifically attempted to determine which of these methods results in an easy to peel egg. Please help!

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  1. Use older eggs - the white shrinks with time away from the shell. Always start in cold water, bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat and let stand 12-15 depending on desired hardness. Immediately hit with cold water and begin to peel under the faucet. I've rarely had a problem.

    One further tip if making deviled eggs: lay the eggs on their sides for a bit - this will better center the yolks.

    7 Replies
    1. re: alwayscooking

      To make eggs 'older', leave out on the counter overnight.

      1. re: alwayscooking

        Now that's a slick idea; never thought of.

        1. re: c oliver

          My favourite chowhound tip ever :) Grocery store eggs usually peel well after 12 hours on the counter, but farm-fresh eggs may need even more time out of the fridge. Works like a charm every time!

          1. re: c oliver

            Most of the world does not refrigerate their eggs. When we are on our boat the eggs are on the counter (unless is is hot) - but that is just me - most people leave them out. Some oil them. But think of it, that egg is mighty warm when you snatch it from beneath your hen. And yet still edible.

        2. re: alwayscooking

          this is to alwayscooking...........
          when do I lay them on their sides? before cooking, after, surely not during

          1. re: iL Divo

            I've read that spinning them raw, right before cooking, centers the yolks too. If memory serves, Cooks Illustrated once said to refrigerate the container on its side overnight to center the yolks before cooking.

            1. re: greygarious

              wow spinning them raw before cooking centers the eggs? < who knew? that's amazing if it works. you mean the cardboard container that the eggs come in to lay that on it's side? and then what? < > hard boil now?

        3. I find it's easiest to peel under cool running water. I usually tap the egg on the counter then peel straight into the sink with the water running

          3 Replies
          1. re: cheesecake17

            I run cold tap water into the pan til it's all cool, add ice cubes, crack the shells all over and let set for 5 minutes. Then peel.

            1. re: c oliver

              i remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon or pour off the water into the sink (keeping the eggs in by covering the pan nearly all the way with the lid), and drop them immediately into a waiting bowl filled with cold water & plenty of ice. i've found it uses less water than running the tap, and cools/shocks the eggs more quickly. plus, as i'm peeling them, if any shells stick, a quick dip/swirl in the ice bath helps with removal.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Good idea re saving water. I do the same with dipping back in the water if they get stubborn.

          2. Have you tried running cold water over the egg just before peeling? Seems to always help for me...others have said that the freshness of the egg is a factor, but for me, that has never mattered.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Val

              i've done comparative experiments (at home and in grad school Food Science classes), and in my experience, age is indeed a factor. really fresh eggs are damn near impossible to peel cleanly no matter what you do - prick with a pin, run under cold water...doesn't matter. older eggs release the shell much more easily.

              this topic has been discussed *at length* here on CH...


              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Thanks for the comprehensive answer! If I had only suspected the egg thing was giving so many good cooks a run for their money, I would have searched for it before posting.

                1. re: sasha1

                  There was a trick sent in from a reader to Cook's Illustrated that seems to work well if you are not in a hurry and have the time to prepare the eggs beforehand.

                  After removing the eggs from the heat source, draining the hot water and cooling them.....roll them on the counter to crack the shells and return them to a pot or bowl of water. Let them sit in the water for an hour or so in the refrigerator.....the egg shell practically peel themselves.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    I was just about to suggest the roll and crack method. The exception is, however, that I don't soak them in water. If you do a sufficient job of rolling and cracking until you see fine lines all over the egg, the shell slips off quite easily.

                    1. re: LTL

                      I just roll my eggs while pressing down, and the shell comes right off

                      1. re: LTL

                        no LTL they really don't, I did that 3 batches ago, and the mess was everywhere. I followed what someone else said that mentioned doing this too.

                        excuse me for contradicting you, really not my purpose, but this is why I keep coming into these threads to pray I get help with the peeling process that seems to usually elude me.

                        I'm not a young little new cook any longer, I've been doing this all my life. never gave a drop of thought about making hard boiled eggs let alone peeling them, but I don't know why sometimes it works, other times, it doesn't. I always, for years and years, used to put my eggs into hot water to hard boil, my memory is that the eggs used to come off easier, but then, not being 20 anymore my memory may be a bit shifty ;(

                      2. re: fourunder

                        well fourunder, this is one I've not tried, all the other ideas I have and still no luck, but I have time to try this. next time I need to be able to peel eggs, I'll try this. I haven't tried to steam the eggs either in an egg steamer as someone over at another thread suggested. gad, why is this soooooooooooooooo difficult? aaaargh

                  2. The longer you wait after making hard boiled eggs the easier it can be to peel. It's usually most difficult right after they've cooled. I usually make them a day ahead of time or in the morning etc. I'm too impatient to it's easier if I do it and then forget about them. Anyway...good luck.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: A2hungry

                      Many authorities say that a boiled egg does not last as long in the fridge because boiling removes a protective layer. I have not noticed this, personally. I keep a few boiled eggs in the egg box (marked with felt-tip and turned upside down)

                      And I guess everyone knows how to tell if an egg has been hard-boiled?

                      1. re: Paulustrious

                        "And I guess everyone knows how to tell if an egg has been hard-boiled?"

                        I assume you mean by spinning it? A hard boiled egg spins and a raw one wobbles around.

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          Crack it over a bowl. If it is hard-boiled, nothing will fall into the bowl.

                          1. re: Paulustrious

                            you're right, back in the day, we just hard boiled eggs for later use, not immediate use. maybe that's why they peeled easier. now I tend to make them when I need them, which was 20 minutes ago.

                            always marked the HBE with a pencil and an X on top of the egg. brings back fun memories, thanks for reminding me................... :)

                          2. re: A2hungry

                            this is kind of in line with what the other person mentioned about making them and sticking them in the frig for a with my comment to them, I'll try this, thanks for help

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              one last thing in case you haven't tried it - *if* you can plan ahead, leave the eggs out on the counter for at least half the day or even makes a huge difference.

                              i feel your pain, iL Divo, peeling hard-cooked eggs is my #1 least favorite kitchen task.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                o ILY goodhealthgourmet, thank you, I always have time to plan, just as with everyone else probably in here, things are always done last minute, I need to take more time too simply breathe.........hahah

                          3. Peel away a dime sized portion of the shell at the pointed end of the egg. Peel away a quarter sized portion of the shell at the wider end. Hold the pointy end up to your lips, while cupping the egg loosely in your other hand. Blow into the pointy end. The egg will shed its shell & come out into your hand.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Rmis32

                              I am SO trying this tomorrow with my daily hard-boileds. I eat them mid-morning at my desk, so whether it works or not it should be an entertaining show for my officemates.

                              1. re: Cebca

                                Cebca, did it work? LOL I've never heard of this method of peeling eggs, and I'm dying to know if it did (or if you just entertained your officemates!)

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Well, I was all set to stun and impress everyone with my grand feats of egg-deshelling, but sadly, this did not work. So instead, I sat at my desk with my cheeks all puffed out, blowing uneventfully into a mostly-shelled egg. The instructions seem pretty basic so I can't imagine what I could have been doing wrong. Too bad, this could have been a cool party trick - the breakfast equivalent of tying a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue.

                                  1. re: Cebca

                                    I tried and failed with 3 HB eggs I made to test this method. If the egg hadn't already cracked down the side before I blew, it did as the air pressure hit it, and I could hear the air coming out.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      well im glad to hear im not the only egg blowing failure. or the only one who got really excited to check it out.

                                    2. re: Cebca

                                      Sorry you had no luck with this method. Works for me 80% of the time. Check out

                                      1. re: Rmis32

                                        It also works better if you add a tsp of baking soda to the water when boiling.

                                2. re: Rmis32

                                  Could you possibly imagine the outrage if all food establishments used this method for their hard boiled egg application? :o)

                                  1. re: Rmis32

                                    sheesh, now I gotta make just one to see how this fun idea works........wowow