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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Secret of Boiling Eggs

Many years ago I had a girlfriend give me some simple advice. 
"Do you know what the real secret of good poached eggs is? They have got to be fresh."
So true.
So here is the secret of good boiled eggs....
They have to be not so fresh!
It's true (and many of you already know this but it is worth telling) if you try to do a soft boiled egg (yolk medium rare) with a fresh egg from the hen house, they will be nearly impossible to peel without sacrificing precious white and pitting the egg into a lunar landscape.
If however you boil the heck out of an egg and make it so hard it could bounce then you will probably have no trouble removing the shell old or fresh.
This discussion today is for the purposes of achieving that beautiful 3 min egg with the soft creamy centre.

If you have chooks of your own then boiled eggs take some planning ahead.
You have two choices; one, you go to the supermarket and buy eggs or two, put some eggs into a bowl and leave them on the bench for a few days (not in direct sun or extreme high temps).
This ages them a little faster than being in the fridge and the egg white will not be so adhered to the shell membrane when you are trying to peel them.

Place the eggs in cold water from the tap covering them by a few centimetres or an inch and place on a med heat to bring them gently to a simmer. This avoids cracked eggs. 
Take note of the photo above as this is an important and yet misleading part of "boiling" an egg. You want the water to be a gentle simmer not a hard walloping boil which over cooks the egg.
Once at a simmer time for 3mins. I then remove from the heat and leave the pot in the sink covered once again with water from the cold tap. This starts to cease the cooking inside the shell and cools the egg down to prevent over-cooking which results in the greenish ring around the egg yolk. Not harmful, just a reaction between the sulphur of the white and the iron in the yolk, but it would have the CWA ladies tutting about the signs of unaccomplished cook.

After tapping the shell all around on the sink it comes away easily especially if you get it started at the air sack end (the big end of the egg). 
It is from experience and trial and error that you adjust up or down from your timing to achieve the amount of firmness you desire and account for the egg size too. Common sense will indicate that you don't boil a bantam egg for as long as your big girls' eggs.

Once they are cooled you can simply keep the unpeeled eggs in a bowl in the fridge for up to a week and they are very handy for sandwiches or on toast or dressing up a salad. I find the older they get they will start to develop that green ring around the yolk anyway as the chemicals react over time. 
There is so much egg lore that used to be taught in Home Ec at school but a lot of it has gone by the way-side and I promise to broach the subject again sometime.

So fresh eggs for poaching,
older eggs for boiling.


  1. I knew about the older eggs for boiling .. but had never heard about fresher eggs for poaching. Thanks for the tip.

  2. I'm SO glad to read this. I have been boiling our fresh chook eggs for my kids and having to peel half the flesh away. Impossible!!

    xo em

  3. Yes, I always use my older eggs for boiling but they seldom seem old enough to come out as nice as the store ones. Not that that makes me want to buy eggs in the least bit. I'll take my fresher, less beautiful ones any ole day.


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