Eggs are a popular dish for the beginning cook. Easy to cook but not necessarily easy to cook well.
Storing Eggs Properly
Raw eggs should be stored in the original carton. It should be stored in the refrigerator on a shelf at 40º or below. The compartment in the door is usually not this temperature. Eggs can be stored for 4 to 5 weeks beyond the packing date that is printed on the carton. Never leave eggs at room temperature for more than two hours.
Proper handling of eggs – cooking to proper temperature, serving promptly, washing hands properly and avoiding cross contamination – will prevent the possibility of the food borne illness called salmonella.
Always discard eggs that are unclean, cracked, broken or leaking.
Boiling the Perfect Egg
Choose the right eggs. Fresh eggs are less prone to cracking but are more difficult to peel. Eggs that have been in the refrigerator for a few days are more likely to crack but are much easier to peel.
If you are boiling fresh eggs, add a half of a teaspoon of baking soda per quart of water. Another alternative is to let fresh eggs cook a little longer. Place them in the refrigerator for a while before peeling. Adding salt to the water can make the eggs easier to peel later. Add enough to make the water taste salty.
Place the eggs in pot. Lay the eggs down gently. Add cold water to cover the eggs with at least 1” of water. Although the eggs will take longer to cook in cold water, it makes timing the cooking more reliable. Hot water gets hot too early and can cause the eggs to overcook. Turn on the heat. Turn on the burner to medium to high temperature. Cover the pot. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, remove the pot from the heat. Do not remove the lid.
The length of time you leave the eggs in the pot depends on several factors:
- Size of eggs
- Number of eggs
- Temperature of eggs when place in the pot.
For hard boiled eggs, leave them in the water for 12 to 15 minutes. Getting an egg boiled exactly as you like it is really a matter of experimenting. Follow the same procedure but adjust the time that they remain in the water for an egg that has a softer yolk.
Cool the eggs. Drain the hot water off the eggs. Be very careful not to burn yourself. Remember there may still be steam. Stop the cooking process by running cold water over them or place them in a bowl of ice water. Be sure the eggs are completely cooled.
Peel the eggs. Do not try to peel the eggs until they are cool enough to handle comfortably. I am listing some of the suggestions that I have heard for making peeling easier. Try them until you find a good way for you.
Peel under cold running water. Although this definitely makes the peeling job easier, it is not so great on your plumbing. Eggshells are relatively heavy and tend to sink. They then get caught on debris that
is stuck to the inside walls of your sewer pipes, grabbing onto other debris and eventually causing the drain to plug up. Peel them over the trash can. This will avoid the messy clean up job.
After the eggs have completely cooled, drain the water. Put the lid back on the pot (with the eggs still in it). Swirl and shake the pot. Take off the lid and you should see whole boiled eggs with the shells gently cracked all over. Peeling is then a breeze – that is if you can stand the noise made by this method.
Drain the hot water. Put the lid back on the pot and shake the pot from side to side to crack the shells. Fill the pot with cold water. Let stand until cool. The cracking lets the cool water in under the shells to make it easier to peel.
Pinch off a small section of the shell and membrane from the large end of the egg. Insert a teaspoon under shell and membrane so that the egg is being cupped by the spoon. Slide the spoon around and peel off sections of shell. Be careful, the egg has a tendency to slip and slide and fly out of your hand.
Cool the eggs. There is an air bubble in the wide end of the egg, this needs to be cooled. Crack the shell by firmly tapping the egg on a hard surface. Do one end and then the other. Place the egg on its side and roll forward for one revolution using your palm and pressing down firmly on the top of the egg. Submerge the egg in a bowl of warm water. Slip the entire shell off at once. This is an easy way but the mess in the water is hard to clean up.
Tips and Warning
If you are going to be cutting the boiled eggs in half, use the freshest eggs you can find. They will tend to have a yolk that is more centered.
To prevent the yolks from turning green, let the eggs come to room temperature before boiling.
To help center the yolk, stir the eggs and water a couple of times while it is coming to a boil.
Wonder if that egg in the frig is hard boiled or not? Spin it on a hard surface like a top. If it spins quickly without flying off in one direction, it is boiled. Uncooked (or under cooked) eggs will wobble, spinning unsteadily and spin off to the side.
Don’t put eggs in microwave. They could explode.
How To Crack An Egg
Ask anyone about cooking eggs and they will probably mention how difficult it is to crack an egg – and keep shells out of the result. You should always crack an egg over a small bowl. Do not crack the egg over the bowl containing the other ingredients. It does not matter if the egg breaks into that bowl but egg shells bits are not appetizing.
Step 1–Tap the middle of the egg sharply on the edge of the small bowl.
Step 2–Insert the tips of your thumbs into the crack in the shell. Hold the egg low over the bowl and insert the tips of your thumbs into the crack in the shell and gently pry or pull the shell apart.
Step 3–Pour the contents of the egg into the bowl. Throw away the shells. Be sure no pieces drop into the bowl.
Although cracking an egg one-handed doesn’t make the end product taste better, it certainly makes you look like a skilled and accomplished cook. It’s a good trick to pull out if you have company watching you cook.
Step 1–Start out with a small bowl. Make sure your hands are clean.
Step 2–With your palm facing down, hold the egg firmly with your thumb on one side and your first and second fingers on the other side.
Step 3–Using one swift motion, crack the egg on a hard surface. If you use a flat surface (rather than the edge of a light weight bowl) the pieces tend to stay in bigger pieces. A very heavy mixing bowl or a cast-iron pan is fine because it doesn’t tend to move.
Step 4–Keep your wrist straight. If you flex your wrist it will absorb the energy and prevent the egg from cracking. When you try again with more vigor, the egg will explode all over your hand.
Step 5–Do not relax your grip. Apply gentle pressure with your thumb. Slide your first and second fingers in the opposite directions along the surface of the egg toward its ends. Keep the pressure of your fingers even.
Step 6–As the two halves of the egg separate, the egg content will be released. The yolk should remain unbroken and there should be no shell in the bowl. If there are bits of shell suspended in the egg white, a large piece of shell works better than your fingers to scoop them out.
Step 7–Practice, practice, practice. Remember, practice makes perfect.