Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ingredient of the Week


I love hard boiled eggs.  I eat them whole with a dash of salt, as deviled eggs-to which I cannot eat just one, and especially as egg and olive salad on toasted rye bread.  To that I say, “Scrumpt-diddily-delicious!”  It is easy enough to cook eggs; however, peeling eggs is another story.  Reading a food science book inspired me to challenge my cooking ways to get a tender white egg that had a creamy yolk instead of a rubbery egg with a crumbly dry yolk.  

I found that the term “cooked” eggs was key.  I grew up boiling eggs, which led to tough eggs with a green tinted yolk, which results from overcooking causing a reaction of sulfur in the yolk with the iron in the egg white. Also, a stink is produced when shells break leaking albumen into the water.  Have you ever stopped to listen to boiling eggs?  That clink is from the eggs hitting the bottom of the pan and from hitting other eggs.  I now ensure that my eggs do not boil. 

There are several ways to hard cook eggs.  It is all about time and temperature because the whites cook faster than the yolk.  Steam eggs by placing them in a basket made for such task which is then placed over heated water, or pack them in salt and heat them in the oven (like a baked potato,) or simmer them in a pot of hot water.  I just kept to the stove top.  I placed six large eggs in a pot with enough cold water to cover them completely by an inch, placed it on a burner, and brought the water to a bubbly simmer (just near boiling, but not quite), immediately turned off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and left the eggs to steam for 10 minutes.  After time was up, I placed the eggs in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and to loosen the skin from the egg.  The first time, the eggs came out softer than I liked, which made for tender creamy eggs with wet golden yellow yolks, however, I was aiming for a harder yolk.  The second batch was left to steam for 13 minutes, which was just the right amount of time to create a lovely hard-cooked egg.  

Next, I went on to the peeling. Peeling eggs was not all that it was cracked up to be.  Hah, pun intended!  I managed to mutilate the eggs.  The protective skin stuck to the egg, the shell came off in shards along with the egg.  While it is said that one is able to peel a shell off in one continuous motion – like an apple peel, I had a ways to go in my technique.  Good thing egg salad was my favorite; diced eggs hid all flaws. 

I went back to reading in order to shed some light on this dilemma. Here is what I found out. 
  1. Fresh eggs are more difficult to peel. However, store bought eggs are “old enough” by  the time they get to the store and are not to blame for pocked eggs.
  2. Rotten or bad eggs float in water due to the amount of air within the shell.
  3. Make sure to cool eggs completely immediately after cooking or peeling is more difficult.
  4. An egg shocked in cold water is easier to peel than one left to sit and cool.
  5. Start peeling from the wider end of the egg which has the air pocket between the egg and shell.
  6. Try a gentle crack and roll method for cracking the shell.
  7. It is purported that adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when cooking fresh eggs makes for a more alkaline bath, which then seeps through the egg shell and aides in assuring the protective membrane sticks unto itself rather than the shell.
  8. If making deviled eggs, try cutting the hard-cooked egg in half and then scoop out the egg as you would with an avocado.  Saves you from unsightly peeling incidents.
  9. If making deviled eggs and you are aiming for a “centered” pocket for the prepared egg stuffing then use fresh eggs that have been placed on their side in the refrigerator to keep the yolks centered. 
     Basic Hard-Boiled Eggs.  Retrieved June 4, 2013 from
     Geiger, B.  (2009, June 4).  Food ScienceCracking the Boiled Egg MysteryIn Fine Cooking.  Retrieved June 4, 2013 from
     Lopez, J. K.  (2009, October 9).  The Food Lab:  Perfect Boiled Eggs.  In Serious Eats.  Retrieved June 4, 2013 from
     McGee, H. (2004).  On Food and Cooking:  A Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Rev. ed.). New York: Scribner. p. 82-89.

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