Friday 21 March 2014

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Going back to basics on the blog today. Let's take a look at how to make perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs. Hard boiled eggs have so many uses: spruce up just about any salad, Asian soups, egg salad sandwiches, pickling, part of any breakfast, deviled eggs, Scotch eggs, simmered in a curry sauce and countless other ways. They're easy and remarkably inexpensive. It's never a bad idea to have some on hand in your fridge for incorporating into some dishes you create or even just for healthy snacking.    

Surprisingly, a lot can go wrong when hard boiling eggs. They could be rubbery and overcooked. They could have a pungent smell. They could be scarred and beaten up when peeling. They can develop a nasty green-grey colour around the yolk (a reaction between the iron in the yolk and the hydrogen sulfide from the white). Here are some tips and techniques to avoid all of the obstacles and end up with perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs.

First of all, try to use eggs that are at the very least a week old. Very fresh eggs don't work so well for this technique (which makes this a perfect solution if you end up with several leftover eggs that need to be consumed). Generally speaking, as an egg ages it gradually loses carbon dioxide through tiny pores within the shell. This increases the size of the small air bubble within the egg. This in turn causes the contents of the egg to contract slightly which makes them much easier to peel. You may notice that when trying to peel a hard boiled fresh egg you may end up with pockmarks and craters all over your otherwise smooth whites. Though, this can still happen a bit if the eggs aren't as fresh. The secret to avoid this is a little baking soda. The sodium bicarbonate will help the egg separate from the shell as it cooks. 

Here's what you need to do...

Place your eggs in a large pot. Fill with cold water leaving about an inch of above the eggs. For every three cups of water, add 1/2 tsp of baking powder. Gently stir to dissolve the baking soda. The baking soda will fizz and cloud up the water a little. 

Bring the water up to a rolling boil over the stove. Let it boil for one whole minute (set a timer) then place a tight fitting lid on over the pot and remove from the heat. Leave the pot with the lid on for ten minutes (set a timer). Eggs can overcook in the blink of an eye so try to be as precise as possible with your timing.

Be prepared to have a large bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes to keep it cold. When your eggs have had their ten minutes off the heat, use a slotted spoon to carefully place each egg into the ice water. This will begin to stop the cooking process from the outside in. Leave the eggs in the ice bath for 5 minutes. Do not allow them to cool completely, they should still be slightly warm to the touch. 

Then fish the eggs out of the ice bath. Gently rap each egg a few times over a hard surface and begin peeling from the base (less pointy end) of the egg. The air bubble mentioned earlier will collect at this part of the egg. With little effort the shells should come right off without any fuss. 

There you have it! Pretty manageable, right? You should end up with perfectly smooth, perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs to be used however you desire. Even after refrigerating them, they should have bright yellow yolks and clean whites (no grey and no green).

I hope you take advantage of this foolproof technique. Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins, amino acids and minerals. They are timeless and enjoyed all over the world. This is one of the best ways to enjoy them.

Keep coming back for more techniques, recipes and exciting things to come...


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