Not going as planned

Hard boiled egg mess

There is much to be said for failure. It is more interesting than success.
~Max Beerbohm, Mainly on the Air, 1946

Our new house came with three lovely chickens. I had the idea of making pesto deviled eggs earlier this week (after an inspiring snack at the Nordstrom holiday shopping event). Unfortunately, I appear to really suck at making hard boiled eggs.

How can a seemingly simple task be so bizarrely confounding?

The standard technique – placing eggs in a pot of boiling water, removing the pot from the heat, and letting the eggs cook for 12-14 minutes – has failed me twice! I hate over-cooked, green yolks, so I cooked them the first time for 12 minutes. The eggs were hard to peel and the yolks were only half-cooked. The next time I tried, I left the eggs in the water for 15 minutes. The results were no better, as the above picture demonstrates.

I made the pesto filling with the yolks, a cup of basil leaves, a few tablespoons of walnuts, a couple shavings of Parmesan, and a spoonful of Veganaise anyway. It was super rich and worked great as sauce for pasta and veggies. All in all a happy failure.

I still can’t figure out what’s wrong with my hard-boiled egg cooking technique, though. Is there a difference between home-grown eggs and commercial eggs that would account for the difference? Do I simply need to cook them even longer?

Good thing the ladies keep laying more eggs. I have a feeling I will be able to keep experimenting until I have the technique down pat.

16 comments for “Not going as planned

  1. Jamie
    December 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Jamie the pedant chiming in here.

    Sound advice on boiling older vs fresher eggs, but that’s not your main problem here. There are two key components to accurately boiling eggs:

    1) Amount of Water
    2) The temperature at which you begin to cook.

    Amount of water: Put only enough water in the pot to just cover the tops of the eggs. No more and certainly no less.

    Temperature: Ideally, put the eggs in water that is the same temperature as the eggs (although cold tap water and eggs from the fridge are close enough as doesn’t matter). After you have placed the eggs in the water, THEN turn on the flame.

    The idea is that you want to heat the eggs and the water at a predictable rate. Using this technique on the large burner on your stove (which I know well!) and with a 9 in. sauce pan, you will find that 4 eggs will be perfectly hard boiled at 10 min. after the water begins boil, softboiled at 2.5 min after the water begins to boil.

    Accuracy is important here – start the clock as soon as you have large bubbles of steam emanating from the majority of the bottom surface of the pan, not the wimpy little ones that appear 45 seconds before the actual boil. Once the water begins to boil, you can reduce heat significantly to keep it at a slow boil. (The water will be 100C at any rate, but you don’t want to bounce the eggs around and break shells in roiling water.)

    At the end of the cooking time, douse the eggs in cold water to stop additional cooking. If you’re making soft boiled eggs just a splash will do, as you want hot eggs for breakfast. If hard boiling, I like to put ’em in an ice bath.

    So you see Cary, boiling eggs isn’t that simple after all.

    I miss the girls and fresh eggs – we’re not going to be able to build the new coop before spring.

  2. Jamie
    December 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Oh, and a week is plenty old for hard boiling.

  3. Stephanie
    December 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Add a little white vinegar to the water before you boil them. It makes them easier to peel.

  4. Gilbert
    December 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I’ll agree with others fresh eggs are tough to peel. Supposedly putting some white vinegar in the water will make it easier, but may also impart taste. I haven’t tried it.
    My typical cooking for perfect hard boiled eggs is starting in cold water (filled 1″ above eggs.) Bring to boil (fish eye is fine for me) and then remove from heat for 12 minutes. Then I rinse with cold water for about 30 seconds and place in bowl and then straight into the fridge. No sulfur yolks. Not sure if it matters but I do them in a stainless sauce pan that has an aluminum core. HTH

  5. Matthew
    December 14, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I have used this method a number of times, and it’s foolproof! It even calls for fresh eggs! If you don’t want to watch the video it’s done in a few simple steps.

    -Bring about a 1/2 of water to a boil
    -insert steam rack and place at least 4 eggs
    -lower heat to simmer
    -steam for 12min
    -immediately move to ice bath and let chill for 5min
    -peel and enjoy!;_ylt=A86.J7oA441UOUAAHQwPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTBsOXB2YTRjBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkAw–?p=hard+steamed+eggs&tnr=21&vid=5DB4644F315E8C52FBC45DB4644F315E8C52FBC4&l=146&

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