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Volume III
March 29, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

The Trick to Perfect Soft or Hard Boiled Eggs

By Alice Osborne

In a recent edition of Mother Earth News, author Tabitha Alterman, shares her secret to making perfect soft- or hard-boiled eggs. This is the time of year to especially want this information - 'tis the season to stock up on and use more eggs, so I was tickled to find her information!

Tabitha says that to make perfect soft- or hard-boiled eggs, start with, room-temperature eggs. And that's an important key - you have to plan ahead to get your eggs out of the fridge and up to room temperature before plunging them into water. I'm always pulling them from the fridge at the last minute - chilly eggs were what I've been trying to cook.

She then says these room temperature eggs are to be placed in a pan of cold water.

And that's the other mistake I've made over and over. I've plunged mine into boiling water (and then wondered why, after it was all said and done, why some of them were cracked when I pulled them out of the water).

Then we should bring this cold water to a simmer over medium heat. Once the water is at a low boil, we should begin counting. "Timing is of the essence," expert egg cookers like to say.

Depending on the type of egg you're cooking, and the results you want, you'll remove the eggs at the time specified below. Finally, we should chill them under running cold water before cracking and peeling.

And here's a little side note: egg shells, finely ground, make an excellent amendment to our garden soil. So it you compost, you know to include them into your pile. If you don't compost but want the benefits of them anyway, just add them to your blender with some water and grind away. Then work this shell liquid into the soil around your plants. They'll thank you for it later in the spring.

But back to cooking eggs: I've never had the opportunity or interest in cooking anything other than chicken eggs, but in case you'd like to venture out beyond the land of chickens, Tabitha shares the timing for cooking not only chicken, but quail and duck eggs as well. And as I look at this chart, I can see another big mistake I've made: I've boiled my eggs for 10 to 15 minutes (if a little time is good, isn't a lot even better?), then I'd wonder when peeling them, why the yolks were so gray instead of that uniform bright pretty yellow we want.

Soft-Boiled Quail Eggs: 1 minute
Hard-Boiled Quail Eggs: 2 to 3 minutes
Soft-Boiled Chicken Eggs: 2 minutes
Hard-Boiled Chicken Eggs: 5 minutes
Soft-Boiled Duck Eggs: 3 minutes
Hard-Boiled Duck Eggs: 7 minutes

I'll be making potato salad with lots of hard-boiled eggs for Easter dinner, and I am going to follow her instructions to the letter. No more gray yolks for this little chicken!


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