Why can’t all hard-boiled eggs be easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs? For a food that seems so easy to prepare (eggs + water), boiled eggs can be quite maddening, especially when it comes to peeling. You’ve been there: everything between you and the egg korma (or egg salad) is a bunch of just-boiled eggs and yet it takes you 15 minutes to peel each one and remove it from you huge gashes of white with every tiny shard of stubborn shell. This is enough to drive you crazy, even if you are not very, very hungry.
The truth is, making easy-to-peel hard-boiled (or soft-boiled!) Eggs starts long before you get to peel. It starts with which eggs you choose, how you cook them, and how to process them once your timer (yes, you have to set a timer) hits. For egg yolks set to your liking and pearly, smooth, and unblemished exteriors, follow these guidelines for how to make hard-boiled eggs:
1. Don’t use super fresh eggs.
Farm-fresh eggs will be harder to peel – it’s a matter of special chemistry. To minimize frustration, save those chicken eggs for frying and scrambling, and use a carton from the grocery store when boiling.
2. Start the eggs in boiling water.
Eggs added to boiling water rather than brought to a boil in the pot with cold water will be easier to peel. Also, when you boil eggs with the intention of jam – for example, for soy marinated eggs, this method allows for more precise timing. (Otherwise, you will need to watch closely to observe the exact time of the water boiling.)
The biggest risk with adding eggs to boiling water is that they will crack and end up deflating and out of balance. To minimize this risk, scoot them carefully, using a spoon, then maintain a gentle simmer rather than a vigorous bubble so they don’t bump into the pan.
Cook up to 8 eggs in a 2 quart saucepan – more than that and they might break their heads and crack.
3. Set a timer.
It’s 7 minutes for jammy eggs with firm but sticky yolks, 10 minutes for cooked (but not chalky) eggs. If you are using XL or giant eggs, you will need a little more time.
4. Use an ice bath.
Unless you interrupted their cooking, this timer was useless. Let the eggs hang in cold water for a few minutes, until they are just cool enough to handle, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. While they are still slightly warm, peel the eggs under water.
This helps keep pesky shells – which should slide off pretty easily – contained. It’s also helpful to crack the egg at the fatter end, where you’ll find the air pocket, and peel it from there. If you’re still having trouble, peeling the eggs under a running faucet can help the shells slip off.
Keep eggs that you won’t be using straight away unpeeled – they’ll last longer as well! – and for up to 1 week, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.