03 June 2013

Basics: Foolproof Hardboiled Eggs

Sometimes, things seem like they are so easy, like we should all know how to do them perfectly.  Take hardboiled eggs, for example.  How much simpler can something be?  You take a bunch of eggs, put them in a pot and cover with water and boil them.

But is it really so simple?  If you have ended up with rubbery whites, powdery yolks or a funky green ring around the yolk, you know that it isn't.  Exactly how many eggs can you boil at a time?  And how much water should they be covered with?  How long should they boil?

With how versatile hardboiled eggs can be, from just being a protein-filled snack to the many salads in which they are a central ingredient, it's important to know how to get a perfect hardboiled egg.

The first step is to determine how many you want to cook, and then pick out a pot that will accommodate that amount.  For example, I like to keep hardboiled eggs on hand in the fridge so that we can throw together a quick meal or snack, especially when a five-year-old's hunger pains come out of nowhere and he is on the verge of a meltdown.  So for me, it's ideal to cook as many as I can in one batch (according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, it's safe to keep them in the fridge for up to a week).  I have found that my largest pot, a stockpot, will fit 22 eggs in a single layer without being so cramped that they run the risk of cracking during cooking. It's important that you do only place the eggs in a single layer, otherwise your eggs can cook unevenly.

So what is the process for cooking the eggs?

1)  Place the desired amount of eggs in a single layer in a heavy-bottomed pot with a good lid              
2)  Cover with cold water to one inch above the top of the eggs.



3)  On high heat, bring the water to a rapid boil.
4)  Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let it sit for ten minutes.  Make sure to set a timer so you don't forget, since another minute or two could change the texture of the eggs.


5)  Once the ten minutes are up, plunge the eggs into ice water using a slotted spoon.  If you are going to use the eggs right away, crack them before putting them into the cold water.  This will help make it easier to peel them neatly.  Otherwise, try not to crack them so they will last longer in the fridge.


6)  Let them cool completely in the ice bath and then either peel and use them or put them into a bowl or bucket to store in the refrigerator.


See?  The yolks are not powdery, there is no green ring, and the whites are tender.  Perfect for snacking and using in any recipe!  (And as it turns out, it really is pretty simple once you know the right technique...)