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Aug 11, 2011 09:29 PM

poached eggs - really

Is there a trick to poaching eggs without the little dish? I read somewhere that you need to add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water. Not sure why as it really seems to make no difference. I just want to drop the egg in water and have it perfectly poached. Mine spread out a bit and there is always foam on top. Will I always have foam?

I have tried adding the egg when the water is at a simmer but I think at a steady boil is best. The egg it actually pretty perfectly cooked but it's just a little too spread out and sometimes if I forget to move it after a minute it gets a little stuck to the bottom of the pot.

What are your tricks? And have you mastered it so you can do a bunch at once? I only do two at a time.

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  1. The vinegar keeps it from spreading so much. Crack the egg into a shallow cup and lower that to the hot water, then just tip it out. Julia Child recommended stirring the water until you have a whirlpool, then tipping the egg in. The swirling keeps the whites compact.

    4 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Ditto everything greygarious said.

      Add a touch of vinegar, swirl your pot a bit to create a gentle whirpool, then drop in the egg.

      1. re: greygarious

        Swirling! That is so familiar! I do remember reading about how to do this best some time ago. But at that time I was hooked on my cute little egg cups and didn't try any of the tips. I am tired of washing them now and over it. I will give that a try in the morning. Thank you1

        1. re: greygarious

          Yes! Vinegar and swirling. This is how my dad taught me to do it when I was really little.

          I poached eggs using this method in front of a roommate a couple years ago and he stared at me as if I had done something magical.

          I have also heard of poaching eggs in milk, but I have never tried it.

          1. re: greygarious

            me, too, on the vinegar and swirl.

            and I keep the water at the barely-simmering point - it takes an extra minute or two, but I don't have egg-drop soup when I'm finished. You can also gently spoon hot water over the yolk to help nudge the cooking process along.

          2. Yup, swirling is most definitely key.

            1. I do a touch of vinegar, swirl the water immediately prior to dropping the egg in, and I do use a bowl. Not because you have to, but because I read it's easier to get the egg just above the water when dropped in which supposedly helps. (according to a lot of reading) I'm not sure how much that helps as I haven't done it without. (I'm kind of anal when it comes to "learning" how to do something in the kitchen)

              1 Reply
              1. re: MyNameIsTerry

                I do the bowl thing too. I've tried it with and without and it is much easier with. Cracking the egg on the side of the pan tends to result in steam-cooked egg white down the side of the pan.

              2. Fresh eggs is also important, the less fresh they are, the more they spread out.

                3 Replies
                1. re: pj26

                  I was wondering if someone would metion the freshness thing.
                  I cooked weekend brunches once apon a time and cracked a lot of fresh eggs into acidulated, gently boiling water...

                  1. re: pippimac

                    It's important isn't it? If the eggs aren't fresh, the egg whites won't coagulate very well. This and a whirlpool effect with a drop of vinegar = pretty perfect eggs.

                  2. re: pj26

                    Although the albumen looks uniform there are more and less gelatinous components. Fresh eggs have a higher ratio of gelatinous/non-gelatinous which and the white gets looser over time. So pick a carton that's as close to 30 days from expiration as possible.

                  3. I, too believe that the vinegar makes no difference. I've tried a little and a lot. The swirl does seem to help some, but I'm generally not very good at getting them perfect. I often cook them in little silicone prep bowls (greased) which allows me to cook several at once, as long as I have a big pot of water.