May 25, 2012

Perfect Hardcooked Eggs


Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs

I have a love relationship when it comes to eggs. For years I thought I’d just have to suffer because my beloved ovoid friend was “unhealthy”. But now that has been settled and the incredible edible egg is back!

One of my favorite ways to eat eggs as a kid was when my mom would make deviled eggs. Just for me. Because I don’t like pickles in mine. I just like the creamy, yolky, savory filling balanced with the blandness of the white. Without chunky stuff. So my mom would make me 6 halves of my own.

After moving away to college I attempted to make my own but for almost 20 years I’ve ended up just making egg salad because my boiled eggs would turn out ugly. I could never figure out how to peel the eggs without mangling the white. And if you love deviled eggs you know they’re just not as good if the whites look like the surface of the moon.

Like you, I grew up with boiling as the way to hardcooked goodness. Notice I say hardcooked not hardboiled. That’s because I’ve discovered a new way that seems to not only make perfectly yellow (I hate that grayish-green circle, yuck!) yokes but also does some magicalness to the shells to get them to release much more easily. Steam!

Now I’m not talking about steam like some of these online video that have you attempting to jet-puff the oval awesomeness, or hard cook it outside the shell. This is plain ol’ steam from using either a steamer basket or if you’re lucky enough to have the steamer insert for your fancy cookware kind of steam. And, seriously, it will revolutionize your hardcooked egg ability. So much so that this may very well be the summer of the deviled egg!

Why steam? What’s wrong with the age-old tradition of boiling? Nothing’s wrong with boiling, but if you’re like me and have never figured out how to peel hard cooked eggs without mangling them you know there has to be an alternative. And with the scientific discussions of fresh vs. “old”, membrane thickness, organic and free-range or plain ol’ store brand when all you want are pretty deviled eggs or not wasting half your eggs when you peel them it’s worth a try. But it does actually become a bit scientific because the molecules of water that are formed from the steam are smaller than the ones formed in boiled water. With smaller molecules, the water penetrates the thin shell and gets under the membrane lifting it slightly so it slides off more easily.

While the science is fascinating, I know you just want pretty eggs. So, without further adieu, I bring you:

Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs (every time)

What you need:

  • Steamer basket and heavy-bottom pan with tight fitting lid (or double boiler with steamer insert and lid)
  • Water
  • Eggs (how many will depend on your needs and the size of your pan/steamer basket)

Hard Cooked Eggs

If you have a steamer insert for your double boiler, set that up just like you would the double boiler. If you don’t, you’ll need a steamer basket. I have one of those foldy type steamer baskets that’s at least 18 years old (wedding gift!). Place about an inch of water in the bottom of a heavy-bottom pan and then unfold the steamer basket inside the pot. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the basket so you may need less water in the bottom. If you have the steamer insert for your double boiler you likely know how to use it and probably don’t need to worry about the water level.

If using the steamer basket, unfold it into the bottom of your pan. Place the eggs in the steamer basket or double boiler. They can actually touch, because unlike boiling they won’t rattle around and crunch each other. But you don’t want them stacked or in layers.

Once the eggs are in the pan and ready, put a lid on tightly and turn the heat to medium-high and bring the water to a boil. The amount of time it takes will depend on how big your pan is, how much water and how much power you’re pulling on your stove.

So once the water is boiling,  let the eggs steam for about 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner and let sit for 3-5 minutes.

Depending on what level of asbestos hands you have will depend on at what point you can handle the eggs. If you’re like me, anything short of flaming hot is usually ok to handle. I’ve found that cold eggs don’t peel as easily so you’ll definitely want to peel these when they’re warm enough for you to handle. And I think at this point you don’t really need me to explain to you how to peel an egg. Right?

Once they’re peeled, marvel at (1) how easy it was and (2) how pretty they look. I used two different brands of eggs when I made mine, which explains why the yolks are different colors. Either way, they’re still pretty!

So try this and tell me what you think. OK?



Michael January 10, 2013 at 8:50 am

Just wondering if you have perfected soft-boiled eggs using this method? Thank you

Sara January 27, 2013 at 10:37 am

Hi Michael, I haven’t perfected soft-boiled eggs yet but I know they’re somewhere between 8 and 11 minutes instead of the 15 for hard-cooked eggs. I’m finding it more challenging with soft-boiled because of egg freshness and size. Hope you give it a try and let me know what worked for you. ~ Sara

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