Hot Polka Dot

How To Tuesday: Eggcellent.

   I know what you're thinking. I know how to boil an egg! Sure, everyone does. It's not really that hard. I'm sure you've boiled more than your fair share of eggs and they've all turned out fine. But then I'm sure you've also had a few batches of eggs that were less than fine.

Maybe the shell stubbornly and inexplicably stuck to the egg so the only way you could peel it off was to brutally mutilate the poor defenseless egg until all that was left was a pile of broken bits of white and yellow.

Or the shells cracked and unsightly half cooked egg goo oozed out into the boiling water to create this amoebas alien egg.

Or you're happy with the shape of the eggs but while preparing deviled eggs for a special occasion you slice into the yolk only to discover it's tinted a rather unappetizing shade of green.

Well I'm here today to make sure that never happens again. I'll help you understand the science behind boiling an egg and I'll reveal to you the little tips and tricks behind the perfect hard boiled egg.

Choose a pot that is just big enough to fit the amount of eggs you wish to boil. Gently place the eggs in the pot and cover them with cold water up to an inch above the eggs. This will ensure the eggs will have enough water while cooking and it will not boil off.

Add about a 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the water and stir it until it dissolves. Eggs that are at least 5 days old are easier to peel because their higher pH strengthens the membrane. Eggs that are fresher should be boiled with a 1/2 tsp of baking soda to make the cooking water more alkaline.

Fit the lid on the pot and heat it over medium heat until the water begins to boil. Of course you could always set the stove to high heat and boil them faster but the eggs should be boiled slowly so as not to shock the cold shell and cause cracking. Once you start to see consistent boiling turn the stove off and let it sit for 2 – 5 minutes for soft boiled eggs and 10 – 15 minutes for hard boiled eggs. I usually stop at 13 minutes but it might vary depending on your tastes, stove and pot.

With a slotted spoon lift the eggs out of the pot one at a time and place them in a bowl of ice water. This step has a three-fold purpose. It makes the eggs cool enough to handle, blanching the shells to make them easier to peel.

After a few minutes in the ice bath remove the eggs one at a time to peel the shells. Gently but firmly tap or roll each egg on a solid surface to crack the shell. Starting from the thicker base of the egg begin peeling the shell. It's easier to start at the base because usually that's where the air pocket is located which gives you room to start peeling without worrying about marking the delicate egg.

With wet hands and without using your fingernails slide your finger between the egg and the shell and carefully peel away the membrane and shell. Sometimes you get lucky and the shells comes off all in one piece without a fuss. Pay no attention to my freaky bendy thumb, by the way.

Rinse the bits of shell off the egg with cold water. Turn them into egg salad, deviled eggs or simply serve them with salt. Enjoy!

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  1. The napkin looks so great! I didn’t even notice it the first time I looked. Fits right in. Also I, too, have those thumbs. They’re super handy, right? I always feel badly for people who don’t have them. I don’t know how they get on.

  2. I for one love the tips about boiling an egg. Usually I do OK, that is when I remember to pay attention. My last lot didn’t do so well because I got distracted by Le Tour de France. Lets just say that my eggs did not win that stage. I am also loving your photos. They are all great but something about the reflection of the dots on the yellow bowl makes that one my favorite.

  3. I love hard-boiled eggs, soft, fried, scrambled, quiched, omletted, never learned how to make those puffy egg thingys-can’t remember name.

  4. Simple and the best way to get the yolk nice and yellow, not grey in the center. Thanks!

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