Boiling the perfect egg.
This should not be a difficult task... right? Yet, if I were to challenge you at this current moment to make me a soft/medium/hard boiled egg... could you?
Be honest. You are allowed to think "no."
After reading this, you will be able to.
Before enlightening your mind with the proper cooking times, there are a few other factors to keep in mind when boiling eggs:
1) Egg Size: The larger the egg, the longer it will take to cook. For this article, I am referring to a large egg (not medium, not jumbo).
2) Temperature of egg pre-cook: An egg taken directly from the fridge will take longer to cook that at room temperature. However, logically - most individuals are not able to reach under a chicken, grab and egg, then immediately cook. Ergo, eggs have come directly from the refrigerator.
3) Egg to water ratio: The more water that you use, relative to the number of eggs, the longer the water will take to boil. I will typically use a sauce pot that comfortably houses the number of eggs that I am cooking (not too crowded and not too spaced out - otherwise they risk bumping into each other and breaking). I will cover the eggs with one inch of water)
4) Altitude: The boiling temperature of water falls as your altitude rises. If you live in the mountains, be sure to adjust accordingly.
Keeping in mind that outside variables will slightly adjust your egg cooking times, the following are general times that will ensure your properly boiled eggs:
How to Boil and Egg:
Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold tap water (until there is about 1 inch water above the eggs).
Place the pot of a high-heat until the water begins to boil.
Set a time for your desired 'doneness' (times listed below), turn off heat and cover with a lid.
Remove the boiled eggs from the water when they have finished cooking and place them in a bowl of cold ice water in order to halt the cooking process.
Carefully crack every part of the shells before fully peeling. Peeling under running water can also help the peeling process.
Important to keep in mind: the times start after the water has come to a boil and you have turned off the heat.
2 minutes: The white has not set and the yolk is raw
4 minutes: The white has fully set, but the yolk is thick and runny
6 minutes: The white has fully set and the yolk has begun to set, but is still slightly runny in the middle
8 minutes: The white has fully set and the yolk has set, but is tender
10 minutes: The white has fully set and the yolk has set
12 minutes: The white and yolk are both fully set
When working with eggs, the freshest are always the best; however, when hard-boiling eggs, older eggs are actually easier to peel. In order to determine the life of an egg, examine its behavior when placed in a pan of cold water:
Remains on its side on the bottom: 3-6 days old
Remains on the bottom, but the wider-end tilts up slightly: about 1 week old
Stands on its narrow end: 2-3 weeks old
Floats to the top? Well... you know that joke that beings:
"What do goldfish and eggs have in common?"
You get the idea, Nemo.
I will often boil a plethora of eggs, then immediately peel and place in my refrigerator. While egg yolks are full of cholesterol, egg whites are brilliant sources of pure-protein. The the occasional egg-yolk will not hard your heart:
Dress up a hard-boiled egg with:
Smoked salmon, guacamole, beet coulis, lentils, chive oil and micro-greens. I mean, that is one way to take an egg from boring to sophisticated.
"Beauty is the illumination of your soul" - John O'Donohue