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hard to peel boiled eggs

What's with these things? I use the same method and sometimes they are near impossible to peel. I end up throwing them away in frustration. I've heard that the fresher eggs are hard to peel I've heard that you need to run them under cold water, all kinds of tricks. But I start them with cold water, bring to a boil then let stand for 10 min. Normally they turn out just fine, but every once in a while I get a batch where you cannot peel them without peeling off most of the white.

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  1. Probably due to freshness, leave them out on the counter for a day or two and you should not have a problem.

    1. I buy super fresh eggs and have pretty much given up on boiled eggs - peeling the shell inevitably peels all the white off too. I'm sure some will post some magical solutions, but none work for me. Save old eggs for boiling. You can check the freshness by looking at how they float in the water, older egg will have a larger air pocket and float, older eggs will sink, middle aged eggs stand on an angle.

      2 Replies
      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Assuming you go to a farmer, have you tried asking for older eggs? Failing that... We often buy 2 dozen, one for the fridge for regular consumption, one goes on the counter for several days until we get around to boiling them.

        1. re: julesrules

          Counter, never thought of that. I do try to keep eggs of several ages around. I buy them from a farm which distributes at Whole Foods. I will buy others on sale and use them for boiled.

      2. I get fresh eggs daily. I have my own chickens. I make hard boiled eggs with eggs laid the same day.
        Steam them. Steam them for about 13or14 minutes. Plunge them into ice water. Crack the shells a little when you toss them in the ice water. Let the ice water get under the membrane.
        Peel when cool. The shell will stick to the membrane (not the egg white) and often peel off in one single "sheet", leaving a shiny, perfect egg.

        2 Replies
          1. re: sedimental

            Of course the answer to hard to peel hard cooked eggs (never boil them) is to steam them.

            After learning to steam eggs, I don't know why anyone eould use any other method.


          2. After you have boiled the eggs, plunge them cold tap water, or even ice cold tap water for a few minutes. The cold water will shrink the eggs just enough to allow smoother peeling.

            Let the eggs sit in the cold water bath for at least 5 minutes.

            I've heard too that fresher eggs are harder to peel. But the cold water bath should help you peel even fresh eggs.

            13 Replies
            1. re: sueatmo

              It doesn't help. I've always used that method. Baking soda in the water helps, but not always enough. I'm switching to steaming next time, from all good reports.

              1. re: mcf

                I'm shocked, mcf. I works about 90% for me. I don't even worry about it. Occasionally I get a hard to peel egg, but in the vast majority of cases, after a cold shock and a little time in the water, they peel fine.

                I boil my eggs. I place them in cold water and turn on the fire. I bring to boil on high, and lower the temp to about med or so to finish.

                Do you buy special eggs? Like super fresh organic eggs?

                1. re: sueatmo

                  I do buy only pastured eggs, but I have tried buying the oldest or just keeping them to or past the sell by date. I put mine into cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover for 10-13 minutes, depending on egg size. I dunk in cold water, load it with ice.

                  The baking soda hint worked like a charm for me a couple of times, then failed me once.

                  1. re: mcf

                    I have no idea if this makes a difference, but I boil my eggs, reducing the heat after the water comes to a boil. I've never used baking soda or vinegar.

                    If I have a fail, it will generally be one egg of the batch that I boiled, not the entire batch.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      It could be the method. I think higher heat = tougher protein, maybe it shrinks away from the shell more?

                      1. re: mcf

                        Honestly I don't know. I don't keep the heat high for very long.

                        I've been boiling eggs this way for my entire lifetime. But the cold water bath came later; I can't remember why I started doing that. Possibly I just figured it out on my own? I just boiled eggs this way a week ago. The eggs peeled fine.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          I asked because the difference for me is that I don't boil them at all, just bring to a boil, then turn off the heat for 10 or more minutes covered, depending on egg size, large -jumbo.

                          No grey ring, tender, golden orange or dark yellow yolk. And a botched up white outside. :-)

                          1. re: mcf

                            If you don't boil them too long they don't have the gray ring, which I am not fond of either.

                            Just like cooking rice or frying an egg, there are a bazillion ways to boil eggs. No one taught me how, so I am totally self taught. But steaming eggs sounds like an awfully lot of trouble.

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              We have one of the pasta inserts for an 8 quart kettle. I put a couple inches of water in the kettle. It boils in just a few minutes. Then I turn the heat to medium, put the eggs in, and set the timer for 13 minutes. The pasta strainer with the eggs then goes into an ice water bath in the sink for 5 minutes. After that they go on a kitchen towel to dry. I never hard cook fewer than a dozen eggs. Then they get peeled and used right away, or they go back into the carton, marked with a Sharpie and go back into the refrigerator. Waiting for a saucepan of water to boil is more trouble to me than using this method. Give it a try sometime.

                              1. re: John E.

                                I had to give up my steamer when I changed pans, so I don't have an insert any more. I almost never boil that many eggs though. And now that I have induction, boiling water is very fast.

                                However I am noting your method for Easter time!

                              2. re: sueatmo

                                Well, you can have an awful lot of trouble trying to peel, or you can set your eggs inside a little steamer basket... :-)

                                I suspect that wanting very tender, unboiled yolks makes the eggs softer and harder to peel, too.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  The thing is, I don't boil many eggs at a time ever. If I want a soft yolk I get pretty good results using the micro.

                                  I think steaming sounds pretty good when I need lots of eggs for coloring this spring. But mostly, what I am doing works well for me. Except for at Easter, I can't remember when I've boiled more than 4 eggs at a time, and mostly it is fewer than that.

                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                    If you want easy soft cooked eggs from the microwave I suggest this technique. Wrap 2 eggs in regular aluminam foil. Place them each in a coffee mug and cover with water. Microwave on high for 6 minutes (1800 watts). Then unwrap and eat as any other soft cooked egg. The water keeps the foil from arcing.

              2. That's weird. It should not be this difficult. Aside from the ice water method mentioned, try this:

                Boil the egg.
                Take it put and crack it a bit. Don't make big cracks, but make like cracks all around the egg.
                Bring it back to the boiling water again (~1 min)
                Take it out and put it in cold water for 1 min or so, or until it is cool.

                1. Heavily Salt the water.... This is the tip I got from my purveyor at the farmers market and it works really well.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sparky403

                    Yes! Salt is the answer! I have posted this on several sites and no one seems to believe it.
                    Eggs in heavily salted water, bring to boil, turn to simmer for 15 mins., drain and put in ice water, peel under running water.

                    1. re: Gail

                      Will I still be able to peel them if I don't cook them that much?

                      Way too cooked for me.

                        1. re: Gail

                          I don't like the yolk hard and pale yellow, that's what I meant, not just the ring.

                      1. re: Gail

                        interesting...wonder how/why that'd work.

                    2. Yes, steam them, as Sentimental described earlier. I stumbled on steaming eggs by accident. I was motivated by the ease of steaming but in time realized that peeling was almost always a breeze. I use an electric steamer which I just plug it in, set a timer and return to do the ice water plunge. I rarely have trouble peeling with the steaming method.

                      1. this had been debated a bunch of times on here alone. friend says she never has problems peeling the perfect HBE. to me she's either lying or magic. no matter what usually there are problems-stale/old/young/fresh/
                        no methods full-proof.
                        if watching Julia Child do them on her HBE show and she gets frustrated and pushes them aside, at least I'm in good company.
                        I rest my case.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: iL Divo

                          Have you tried the steaming method? So far, I've had only a couple hard to peel steamed eggs out of dozens and dozens.

                          1. re: John E.

                            I bought a steamer for a buck (I don't know like 2 years ago) simply for the purpose of steaming eggs after reading the posts suggesting the method.
                            I did try without much success.
                            I'm just saying that with so many professionals acknowledging the difficulty of perfectly peeling hard boiled eggs, there is no perfect method or they'd all know it.

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              I steam for 13 minutes, ice bath 5 minutes, then the eggs sit on a towel for about 5 minures before they go into the refrigerator. They mostly peel quite easy, much, much easier than eggs I simmer in water. I don't know why you do not have similar results.

                              1. re: John E.

                                ok, John E. I've done it 3 times now using the steamer.
                                can you see me? I know it's hard because I'm hiding behind a really big couch :)
                                I have only had one in the last batch of 5 eggs Monday that took a little of the white off. plus to me the texture is much more supple and tender than boiling the eggs. they are rubberier boiled to me. anyway, I am sold and will report back if in fact I have problems in the future but for now, I sure appreciate getting off my @rs and trying this suggestion. great egg salad sandwiches.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  I tried this method again with super fresh eggs and it worked perfectly. I even peeled one of the eggs in the car this morning with one hand, the peel slid right off.

                          2. I just went to the link someone posted for steaming instead of boiling eggs. I'll do it tonight because I have a plethera of eggs so I'll make us both egg salad sandwiches for lunch. I'll report. thanks

                            1 Reply
                            1. Baking soda in the cold water/ice bath, if you're using new eggs or don't know the age of the eggs.

                              The HB egg is hard to peel because the lining inside the shell affixes tightly to the shell.
                              That's why when you peel, some of the egg comes off in raggedy chunks with the shell.

                              That lining relaxes its grip over time, though. It's known that this is caused by a reduction in acidity that naturally occurs over time. Hence, the tip to use older eggs.

                              Baking soda reduces the acidity, just like time would. It raises the pH of the egg enough so the lining releases the shell, and you can peel with abandon.

                              Use whatever method you like to cook the eggs*, but always have a waiting cold water/ice bath ready to plunge the just-cooked eggs into.

                              But this time, when you're making the cold water bath, add a teaspoon of baking soda.
                              Let the eggs cool in the bath, and then peel.

                              Or, use older eggs, and forget the baking soda. But the ice bath shocker is a must.

                              *I like to cook HB eggs by covering them with cold water, bringing that to a boil, turning off the heat just at the boil, and covering the pan for 17 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and put the eggs immediately into the cold water ice bath.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                I think the shell loosens from the white with age because of dehydration.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  That might be operative too, but pH is often cited.

                              2. If the eggs are hard to peel, put one in a china bowl and roll it around while blasting it with a kitchen torch. About a minute or so should do it. It dries out the shell so it comes away cleanly. Oh, and keep the egg moving so you don't overheat one spot. Repeat with each egg.

                                1. add white vinegar to the water for fool-proof peeling. Also add white vinegar to the swirling hot water when poaching eggs to hold the whites together. Have a small pan of hot clear water to dip the eggs in after removing with a slotted spoon to remove any vinegar taste.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I think it's all about the eggs. My usual method is to put the raw eggs in cold water with white vinegar and bring to a gentle boil for about 12 minutes then shock in cold running water until eggs are cool. The eggs sometimes peel easily but most times not. I've tried putting a pinhole in every egg and cooking sous vide without success. I don't see how steaming them would make a difference but I'll try that next. Also, going to try the heavily method.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: zackly

                                      Since I learned about steaming eggs, I have not immersed an egg in water to hard cook them.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        I can't believe I'm seeing the owl from the Store Chain. Would like to know your connection as we still have one in Green Bay WI. I grew up with that store since 1947. There can't be many left as they were only in Wisconsin(?) maybe Minn.(?) Seeing that Red Owl is way cool. It makes my Day. My friend Bud Tosiers' Dad was a Manager there in the late 50's

                                        1. re: gbrainard5575

                                          I think Mason's is the last one left. The Red Owl logo is sort of a family joke. My parent's were part owners of one of the largest Red Owl stores that was ever built. It was a lot like Walmart and Target are now with a combined discount/grocery operation.

                                          These days my dad and one of his former partners joke about how much money they lost back in the 70s. They did not think it was funny back then. They were screwed by another partner. I just tell them that if they would have bought Intel stock back then they would each have $10 million dollars.

                                          I used to live in Green Bay back in the 80s. I worked for WNFL. The current owner says the call letters stand for No ****ing Listeners.

                                    2. I swear, the eggs I cook are ALWAYS hard to peel, new or old, it makes no difference. I just read a tip in cooks illustrated, I will try to describe it. The person took the part of the shell off that is by the air bubble, I suspect on the bigger part of the egg. Then they used a spoon to get inbetween the shell and the egg, maybe a grapefruit like spoon. They got the shell off that way. It seemed like something I would like to try, although I have not tried it yet.
                                      That being said, I read all the comments and I am going to try the heavily salted water, then use the spoon method if needed.
                                      I hate peeling eggs.

                                      1. this may be a repeat sorry...
                                        couple of years ago our DD bought precooked prepeeled
                                        eggs for holiday breakfast. I swear they were no where near as good as doing them yourself or my taste buds were off, but really flat taste

                                        1. I tried the steaming method a few days ago and it worked like a charm though I will admit the eggs sat on the counter for nearly a week because I forgot about them so that probably is a confounding factor.

                                          1. I'm a recent convert to the steaming then shocking method. I was dubious beforehand but it works for me! Cooked for 12 minutes then cooled under running cold water.