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Tips for peeling hard boiled eggs?

I am a member of a CSA and so we get all our eggs through that, fresh from the farm. I've read that fresh eggs are harder to peel when hard-boiled, but I've never in my life experienced eggs as difficult to peel as these. No matter how delicate I try to be, I end up peeling off whole chunks of the egg white. I looked up a bunch of tips online but so far nothing has worked: I've tried the trick of cracking the egg on either side and rolling out with your palm, I've tried letting the egg cool completely, and I've tried microwaving the eggs for 30 seconds. I've also tried putting a dash of vinegar in the water while the eggs were cooking. None have solved this problem. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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  1. Let them age about 2 weeks.

    1 Reply
    1. When I have to peela bunch of eggs I doo it under a bit of running water or keep a bowlof water handy for dunking. Shells slide off more easily.

      Haven't encountered REALLY hard shells yet, though.

      Good luck.

      1. When I am lucky enough to get local eggs from a friend or neighbor I keep them out on the counter or in a bowl on the dining table. The room temp is perfectly fine for storing eggs and they do age a bit quicker, resulting in hard-boiled eggs that are easier to peel.
        One note: I do wash each egg with soap and water and a sponge before putting them in a bowl.
        I think this totally skivves some people out, but I am perfectly comfortable with it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rabaja

          Don't wash eggs that will be kept at room temperature. Unwashed eggs have a natural coating that makes them less permeable to air, so they can stay at room temp. Washing removes that protective layer.

          1. re: greygarious

            Hmmm, so do you wash them as you use them?
            Most of the farms where I live that sell fresh eggs wash them before putting them out for sale (I know this only because I worked with a couple last Summer). Although some I get at the farmers market up here are clearly unwashed...I use them fairly quickly, does that matter?

            1. re: rabaja

              Large egg production facilities wash their eggs but they are then kept refrigerated.
              Smaller farms that wash are hopefully not leaving them at room temperature for days on end. They probably assume buyers will be turned off by streaks or feathers, and will refrigerate them at home, but if they don't recommend refrigeration, they should. . Personally, I don't wash them unless I am using them raw. If I crack an egg and promptly cook or bake with it, I don't think there's time for any problematic levels of bacteria to develop.

        2. There was a tip sent in by a reader to Cook's Illustrated a number of years back that I have found to be the easiest method. After you take the eggs off the heat and have cooled them down in cold water still in the pot, you drain the water and bounce the eggs against the bottom of the pot so they crack the shell all around the eggs. Now refill the pot of eggs with cold water and place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Take the eggs out of the water and the shells slide right off....no peeling at all.

            1. Aging, as mentioned above, will make a huge difference. And aging at room temp is a much quicker process: a day on the counter is as good as a week in the fridge.

              But my perpetual lack of foresight means that aging isn't always an option. Then I go with Julia Child's thermal shock method. Boil the eggs, then ice them down thoroughly. Bring some water back to the boil and submerge an egg for ten seconds or so. Then back into the ice water and peel under cold running water.

              If the shell is still sticking to the white, it's back into the boiling water for a few seconds, then into the ice water once more. The theory is that rapid expansion and contraction of the shell tends to separate it from the white. I dunno about that; I just know it works.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                That's good to know! I've never tried this method. I just got four dozen eggs that are washed/refrigerated and only a few days old, so I bet I'll be trying it soon.

              2. This may sound weird, but in my experience, going back to my youth, white eggs always peeled easier than brown eggs. For some reason brown eggs always stuck to the shells.

                1 Reply
                1. re: al b. darned

                  That may well be a matter of source rather than any intrinsic difference in the shells or membranes. In the Northeast, brown eggs are more common - so they've traveled a shorter distance and perhaps been stored a shorter time than white eggs. There IS a big difference in the hardness of the shells of brown eggs that I buy in the Boston area supermarkets and those I get at a local egg farm where the chickens get to peck around in an outdoor enclosure.
                  The eggs from the latter are really hard to crack. I even dropped one on the linoleum once and all it did was crack, with not even a leak.

                2. According to the Georgia Egg Commission, the following method of hard-cooking facilitates peeling of ultra fresh eggs. Make a pinhole in the large end of the egg, place the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, and cover with cold water to an inch above the layer of eggs. Place a lid on the pan and bring eggs to a boil. Remove the pan of eggs from the burner, leaving the cover in place, and allow to sit for 15-18 minutes, adjusting time up or down 3 minutes for larger or smaller eggs. Immediately remove eggs from the pan of hot water with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water for one minute. In the meantime, bring hot water to simmering. After one minute in ice water remove eggs back to the simmering water for ten seconds. The ten second interval is important because this allows the shell to expand without expanding the rest of the egg. Peel immediately by cracking the shells of the egg all over. Roll each egg gently between hands to loosen the shell. Peel, starting at the large end of the egg. The peeling may take place under cold running water to help wash the shell off the egg and to minimize the shell breaking into the white.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: momskitchen

                    I don't bother with poking a hole in the shell or swapping from hot to ice water. I just put the eggs into an ice bath after taking them off the stove until they are cool enough to handle comfortably. Then I smack the egg on the counter all over the shell until it is just a bunch of tiny egg shells held loosely together by the underlying membrane. Pick an end, remove enough chips of shell to get a good hold on it and then just peel it in a spiral manner towards the other end of the egg.

                    I have used this method while peeling many eggs for potato salad with my mom. She will be ripping up the white of her eggs trying to peel them the standard way, while I wind up peeling perfect eggs twice as quick.

                    I don't know how fresh my eggs are as I get them from the supermarket, but this seems to be overall more efficient than the standard method, regardless of freshness.

                    1. re: momskitchen

                      I have had good luck with this method....I make pickled eggs all the time and the ice bath/hot water trick works every time for really fresh eggs. Alternatively, if you buy your eggs at a liquor store, you can be guaranteed they won't be too fresh to peel. I do this when I am in a hurry.

                    2. Your eggs may just be too fresh. But here's the trick I always use. Once I remove a little chip of the shell, with the membrane underneath (usually from the air-pocket at the bottom, where the white shrinks away as the egg ages...), I run the faucet over the egg as I remove the rest of the shell. If you work it just right the water runs under the membrane and separates it from the white, making it really easy to peel.

                      1. there's another post that recommends boiling them in salted water -- apparently the hint came from one of the guys who runs a food truck to the area factories, so he peels a lot of eggs.

                        Tried it this weekend, and the eggs rolled right out of the shell....well enough that I'll try it again to see if I have the same success next time.

                        1. I always have good luck draining the water after my eggs are boiled and covering them with ice. Leave till the ice melts! Then peel.

                          This worked for my pops and I with eggs that came right out of the chicken coop.