How to Boil an Egg

“As easy as boiling an egg.” As if.

Despite its unassuming nature, the simple boiled egg is anything but. If you’ve ever eaten a rubbery boiled egg, or bitten into a yoke discolored with an unattractive greenish coating, you’ve eaten badly boiled eggs. There are, and this should come as no surprise, numerous right ways and probably even more wrong ways to boil an egg and, for that matter, we should probably do away with the notion that a properly boiled egg is actually boiled. They’re simmered. Or, using the following technique, cooked using a method somewhere between poaching and steaming. Rather than even simmering the egg, the egg is allowed to rest in just-boiled water for as many minutes necessary to produce the desired results, whether they be hard or soft yolks.

What, by the way, is that green/gray coating that appears on some boiled egg yolks? It’s harmless, but comes as a result of the interaction between iron – found in the yolk – and reactive sulfur, which is found in the albumen, or the egg whites. The reaction occurs when eggs have been cooked too long or have been subject to too high heat. The following cooking method, however, neatly dispels both of those issues.

Place a number of eggs into a sauce pot of cold water and bring to the boil. As soon as it comes to a full boil, turn off the heat and then cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid. Let the egg rest for 12 minutes for a hard yolk or three minutes for a runny yolk. When the allotted time is up, quickly cool the eggs by either plunging them into very cold water or running them under cold water from the tap. This not only helps stop the cooking process, but makes the eggs easier to peel, as well.

Peeling a boiled egg can be a frustrating experience if it tears apart as you try to remove the shell, however. This is probably one of the few times when fresher isn’t necessarily better and you’ll want to use eggs that are several days old. As eggs age, they lose some of their moisture, which loosens the seal between the albumen and the shell, making them easier to peel. How long can you keep an egg around? Provided it’s purchased in the proper condition – refrigerated – eggs can stored for several weeks at 41 degrees, the proper temperature for refrigeration.


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