Eggs have been a symbol of spring since ancient times representing renewal and new life. No wonder they are so popular this time of year. Whether coloring them for Easter or just for eating, it’s time to make hard-boiled eggs! Oops, did I just say hard-boiled eggs? I blame that on my Mom. She always made hard-boiled eggs. Literally, she boiled the daylights out of them. I didn’t learn until much later that there is a much better and fool-proof way to make perfect eggs. The secret is NOT to boil them. We want to cook the eggs. The culinary-correct term is “hard-cooked eggs.”
No offense to Mom, but don’t boil the eggs if you want to avoid rubbery whites or green yolks. The term “hard-cooked” is much more accurate and produces a perfect result. The biggest problem with boiling eggs is over-cooking at too high heat. Even a couple of minutes too long will make the white rubbery and cause an ugly grayish-green ring around the yolk. It’s still perfectly edible, just not very attractive. Allow me to get scientific on you for a second. Green yolks are caused by a chemical reaction between the sulfur (hydrogen sulfide) in the egg white with the iron in the yolk. This occurs when eggs are cooked too long or at too high of a temperature. It can also cause a distinct and distasteful sulfur smell. To avoid these issues, simply turn off the heat when the water reaches a rolling boil and let the eggs cook for 10-12 minutes.
Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself. Tell ya what, let’s start at the beginning on how to cook perfect “hard-boiled” eggs. The very beginning. The eggs. Contrary to most all other recipes, fresh is NOT best when it comes to hard-cooking eggs. Buying fresh eggs at a local co-op, farmers’ market, or outdoor stand makes us feel good about our food. However, if you plan to hard cook your fresh eggs, you’re in for a rude awakening. They are nearly impossible to peel! Trust me on this. I’d hate for you to go through what I did in testing this theory. Out of a dozen eggs, I destroyed more than half of them, and the ones that survived were only good for egg salad. I’ll spare you the details, but it has to do with the pH of the fresh egg white being super low, which causes it to stick to the shell membrane. The best eggs are 7 – 10 days old but don’t go over the expiration date.
Moving on, place COLD eggs in a saucepan (single layer) and cover an inch or so with COLD water. This is more important than it sounds. The eggs are cold from the fridge. We don’t want the temperature of the tap water to prematurely start the cooking process. The eggs need to start at ground zero. Heat the eggs on HIGH until the water comes to a rolling boil. Depending on the size of the pan, this takes around 8-10 minutes. SideBar: Do NOT add salt to the water. This raises the boiling point of the water, making the egg whites rubbery.
When the water has reached a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit undisturbed for 10-12 minutes. If it causes you stress just thinking of turning off the heat, after years of believing that eggs need to be boiled, compromise by turning the heat down to simmer. (I had to take baby steps before becoming a believer in just turning off the burner!). While the eggs are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice and water. The eggs are going to take a plunge when the timer goes off.
After 8-10 minutes of cooking, drain the hot water and transfer the eggs into the ice water bath. The ice bath stops the cooking process, preventing the dreaded rubbery whites and green ring. It will also cause the egg to contract and pull away from the shell, making it easier to peel. Let the eggs sit in the ice bath for at least 5 minutes. Now, it’s time to tap, tap, roll and peel. This is the best method ever for peeling eggs. It never-fails – except on farm fresh eggs, which nothing will work. (If you missed the pitfalls of boiling fresh eggs, go back to the 3rd paragraph). Anyway, take the eggs out of the ice bath and sharply tap both ends on the counter or a cutting board (tap/tap). Then roll the egg on the hard surface to crack the shell. Starting at the bottom of the egg (the wider base), begin peeling. The shell will easily come off without sticking to the white. Your beautiful, perfectly cooked eggs are now ready. Enjoy!
Easy “Hard-Boiled” EggsDifficulty: Easy
The secret to “hard-boil” eggs is not to boil them at all! This easy recipe includes easiest way ever to peel cooked eggs.
1 – 12 eggs
- Place the eggs in a saucepan, large enough for them to fit in a single layer. Add COLD water to cover the eggs by an inch or so.
- Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for 12 minutes. In the meantime, fill a bowl with iced water (ice cubes and water). Set aside
- Carefully drain the hot water out of the pan. Pour eggs in bowl of ice water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Tap, Tap, Roll, Peel: Remove one egg at a time. Give a sharp tap to the top of the egg on the counter or a cutting board. Flip the egg over and give a sharp tap to the bottom. Using the pressure of your palm, roll the egg on the counter or cutting board, cracking the shell. Peel the egg under the cold running water from the faucet or in the ice bath. Start peeling from the bottom first (always), as there’s a little air pocket and you’ll be able to get under the membrane. The shell should come off easily. Place on a paper towel to dry.
- Farm fresh eggs are extremely difficult to peel! Buy and refrigerate eggs for a week to ten days in advance of cooking (do not exceed use-by date), which allows the eggs to take in air. This helps separate the membrane from the shell so it can be removed without sticking and gouging the white.