HERE’S HOW TO HARD BOIL EGGS SO THEY WILL LOOK GOOD IF SERVED UNPEELED, PEEL EASILY, AND BE COOKED PERFECTLY
- Bring eggs to room temperature (if you have not “planned ahead” place the eggs in a bowl of tepid water until they reach room temperature)
- Puncture a small hole in the large end of the egg with a straight pin or with an “egg poker” – a very inexpensive device made for this purpose. (This will allow the pressure to equalize between the air pocket in the shell and the hot water, to avoid cracking the shell when it is placed in the hot water.)
- Bring a generous amount of water to a boil in a saucepan large enough to hold the eggs comfortably [NOTE: No matter how large the pan, do not cook more than 18 eggs at one time]
- With a large spoon, gently lower the eggs, one by one, onto the boiling water [NOTE: Adding the eggs will cause the water to stop boiling, because the water temperature will be lowered]
- When the water returns to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer the eggs for exactly 11 minutes. (Very hard boiling may crack shells)
For Easy Peeling:
- Pour the eggs and their cooking water into the sink or a colander to drain
- Immediately run cold water over the eggs, to stop cooking
- Crack the egg shells all over (against the side of the sink, or using the back of a large spoon) while constantly running the cold water over the eggs.
- Once the shells are cracked all over, you can peel them immediately, or wait to peel them until you are ready to do so. (Refrigerate the eggs if you wish to store them for longer than an hour or so.)
- Peels should slip off easily.
Store peeled eggs: Peeled hard boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water to cover for about 1 week (change the water daily) – or in a sealed container without water (cover the eggs with damp paper towels) for the same length of time.
For Perfect “Picnic” Eggs, Served With Their Shells On:
- Instead of pouring the eggs and water into the sink, remove each egg with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl filled with ice and water
- Leave in the ice water bath until completely cooled
Store eggs in the shell: Hard-boiled eggs in their shells can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks
SAFETY NOTE: It is not safe to leave hard boiled eggs (including those in their shells) out at room temperature for long. If they have been taken to a picnic, or served on a buffet, keep them cool while they are being served, and discard the leftovers. Do not allow children to eat eggs that have been hidden in the garden by the Easter Bunny. Candy Easter eggs are safer (if less nutritious).
To center yolks perfectly in anticipation of making deviled eggs: place a rubber band around the carton of eggs, and set the carton on its side in the refrigerator for 24 hours before hard boiling the eggs. Yolks will be centered.
Very fresh eggs (such as eggs purchased at Easter time, when turnover is high) can be difficult to peel, no matter what method is used.
To Freeze eggs: To freeze whole eggs, break them into a rigid, freezer-safe container. Pierce the yolks and stir the eggs to mix them without beating in any air (foam will dry out the eggs as they freeze). For each 2 eggs, stir in 1/8 teaspoon of salt, or 1 teaspoon of sugar or corn syrup. This addition will keep the eggs from becoming too thick and sticky. Label the container with the number of eggs, and whether salt or sweetener has been used (for reference when cooking with the eggs) and freeze for up to 9 months at zero degrees.
Cook’s Note: about 5 large eggs will measure one cup; if egg mixture is frozen in an ice cube tray (and then transferred, when frozen, to a freezer plasic bag for longer storage), each cube will contain about one egg.
Egg yolks (alone) may be frozen the same way. Six or 7 yolks will equal about 1/2 cup. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt or 1 teaspoon of sugar or corn syrup for each 1/2 cup of yolks. Yolks may be frozen at zero degrees for up to 9 months.
Hard cooked yolks may be frozen airtight (no additives) for up to 3 months. Hard cooked whites will become rubbery if frozen and defrosted.
Egg whites can be frozen with no additives for up to one year, and can still be whipped.
Do not re-freeze eggs of any kind.
ADDENDUM: MAKING RAW EGGS SAFER
TWO SAFETY TIPS WHEN USING RAW EGGS IN UNCOOKED PREPARATIONS:
MICROWAVING EGG YOLKS TO KILL SALMONELLA
This first “recipe” was printed in the Chicago Tribune, back in 1994 – for those people who wanted to use raw egg yolks in recipes, but were afraid of the dangers of salmonella bacteria. [About one egg in every 20,000 actually contains salmonella bacteria - but for serving to children, the elderly, pregnant women, those undergoing chemotherapy, those with HIV, or otherwise having compromised immune systems, no risk can be worth it!]
Recently, we have found Pasteurized eggs in their shells in our markets (hurrah!) – only to have them withdrawn, apparently as a result of poor sales! They seem to reappear from time to time, but for those who still wish to use a recipe calling for uncooked egg yolks – and when no substitution of ingredient or recipe will do – here is the microwave technique for making egg yolks “safe” from salmonella bacteria. Pasteurized egg whites can be readily purchased in either dried or liquid form (and the white is the least likely location for growth of the bacteria) but the liquid whites do not whip well. *See below for a newer technique that pasteurizes eggs using warm water.
These (microwave method) eggs will have a slightly thickened texture, but can be used in the same way as raw egg yolks in Caesar Salad Dressing, Hollandaise or Bearnaise Sauces, Mayonnaise, certain Mousse recipes, or Eggnog.
In a small heatproof cup, such as a custard cup, mix together :
2 large egg yolks with
1 1/2 teaspoons, water – and
1 teaspoon, fresh lemon juice
Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Cook in microwave on high (100 percent) power, until mixture bubbles – about 45 seconds.
Remove the cup from the microwave. Carefully remove the plastic wrap, and stir the mixture with an impeccably clean fork.
Replace the plastic wrap over the cup. Microwave again on high power until the mixture bubbles again – this time it will take about 20 seconds to bubble. Allow the mixture to bubble (still microwaving on “high”) for 5-10 additional seconds.
Remove the cup from the microwave, remove the plastic wrap once more, stir the egg yolks thoroughly with another clean fork, and allow the mixture to cool before using.
*PASTEURIZING EGGS AT HOME
The more we learn about food safety, the higher our standards become – and, of course, the more things we find to worry about. Take raw eggs, for example. Folks used to think nothing of breaking a raw egg into their morning milkshake for extra vitamins and protein. Raw cookie dough was only a slightly guilty pleasure – like licking the bowl of cake batter. No one thought anything about the safety or lack thereof in Hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce, or homemade mayonnaise. Poached and fried eggs with runny yolks were simply a matter of preference – not a risky choice. Recipes galore call for beaten egg whites – and even whole eggs – that are never cooked. But then we found out about salmonella bacteria – and how dangerous it can be – and even the hardiest among us started to worry.
For the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, raw eggs can be quite dangerous. Even though the FDA says that only about one egg in 20,000 contains salmonella bacteria – the risk is not worth taking if you are among these groups of people – or if you are cooking for them. There is a company that produces pasteurized eggs in the shell – a fabulous solution, because the egg remains as viable as a completely uncooked egg in a recipe – but those pasteurized eggs can be very difficult to find consistently.
Now, a solution has come to our attention. It is possible to pasteurize eggs at home – and easily, too! Pasteurization is simply a process of heating a food to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time – designed to kill specific bacteria. It is known that salmonella bacteria are killed at temperatures of 140 degrees in about 3 1/2 minutes (or a higher temperature in less time). If a room temperature egg is held in a bowl of warm water – say, 142 degrees to be safe – for 3 1/2 minutes, the bacteria will be killed. It takes 5 minutes for extra large or jumbo eggs.
Place the room temperature eggs in a colander, and lower them into a pan or bowl of 142-degree water. Use an instant-read thermometer to be sure of the water temperature, and leave the thermometer in the water, to be sure that the temoerature is maintained. For medium or large eggs, leave them in the water for 3 1/2 minutes; for extra large or jumbo eggs, allow 5 minutes. Then remove the eggs, dry them, and refrigerate them, in a tightly-covered container.
Eggs begin to cook at about 160 degrees, and will be “scrambled eggs” at 180 – but if the 142 degree temperature is maintained, the result is a safe egg that will act like a raw egg in recipes.
Our listener, Andie, pasteurizes her eggs as soon as she brings them home from the market – a good way to avoid having to mark them, or creating confusion about which have been pasteurized and which have not.