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Table Talk » Is it the salt or the plunge in cold water?

Today is a big day for eggs. Lots of people will be making hard cooked eggs and coloring them. Perfect day to write about making perfect easy-to-peel hard-cooked eggs.

Is it the salt or the plunge in cold water? I think it is both.

The first thing that you might notice is that I'm calling them hard-cooked eggs rather than hard-boiled eggs because I don't boil the eggs; boiling the eggs often results in rubbery whites, green tinged yolks, and shells that are impossible to remove.

I've been on a mission to make perfect easy-to-peel hard-cooked eggs. I've long used the method of placing the eggs in a saucepan, filling the pan with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch of water, bringing the water to a boil, immediately removing the pan from the heat, covering tightly, leaving for 16 minutes (for large eggs). The eggs are cooked perfectly for me, but they aren't always easy to peel.

Some say that the secret to easy-to-peel hard-cooked eggs is using older eggs. Sure that works, but who has time to plan ahead for their hard-cooked egg needs? I went in search of methods that would give me good results from whatever eggs I had on hand.

For me, the secret seems to be twofold: salting the water and immediately plunging the cooked eggs into ice cold water. Since I've been adding a tablespoon of salt to the water before I add the eggs, my eggs peel beautifully, even the ones that have been cooked ahead and left unpeeled in the refrigerator for a few day. The eggs don't taste salty.

Added 4/15/09:
After making some hard-cooked eggs, I read about using natural dyes to dye eggs on the Book of Yum blog. So even though I don't celebrate Easter, I had to dye some eggs. I used the turmeric dye to make pretty yellow eggs. It was easy and fun.


On Sunday I turned my pretty yellow eggs into deviled eggs with saffron, prosciutto, and capers. Saturday night I mixed 1/2 teaspoon of finely crushed saffron into a few tablespoons of mayo and let it "steep" overnight. For 4 eggs (8 halves), I mixed a tablespoon of saffron mayo with the mashed yolks, added 2 ounces of finely chopped prosciutto, a tablespoon of chopped capers, and a little of the caper brine. (I needed the mixture to be a little looser, but I'm not a big fan of mayo, so I used the brine instead, if you like mayo, use more mayo.)


These deviled eggs were sooooo delicious.

Posted April 11, 2009 12:44 PM in

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9 Comment(s)

Marcy Kaminski said… (on April 11, 2009 at 13:10 PM #)

I do mine EXACTLY the way you do them. I thought I was the only one who salted the water. I tell people and they don't believe it works. I believe all lthe points you mentioned, including older eggs, make for great peeling. That's about as perfect as you can get. :) Happy Easter!

christine said… (on April 11, 2009 at 13:14 PM #)

Great tip Patti - I cook my eggs the same way (I think of it as julia child's method) and do the cold water plunge, with ok results on ease of peeling. I've taken to always peeling under running cold water, which definitely helps but certainly wastes water. I'll try the salt trick next time!

Sharon Worster said… (on April 11, 2009 at 14:19 PM #)

I've always used Patti LaBelle's method for hard cooking eggs, which is similar but she doesn't put salt in the water. Hopefully it will improve my success as well. Thanks for the tip!

Martha said… (on April 11, 2009 at 16:03 PM #)

I use the same method as well, but have never salted the water. Here's the weird thing: I can peel the eggs just fine, getting the shell off in just a couple of large pieces, but my husband cannot for the life of him. He ends up with a pile of shell shards and a pock-marked egg. I'll try salting the water and see if that helps him.

Heather @CeliacFamily.com said… (on April 11, 2009 at 17:46 PM #)

I get fresh eggs from my in-law's farm, so peeling hard-cooked eggs is always a little tricky. I'll have to try the salted water next time. Thanks for sharing!

Dave Diamond said… (on April 12, 2009 at 08:08 AM #)

I'd have to consider this EGGsperiment a success. In the past, it's been impossible to get the shell off of a fresh farm egg, but the eggs I just peeled came out pretty well. Older eggs definitely peel more easily, but these weren't the usual disaster. Of course without a side-by-side comparison it's hard to say conclusively. Bad science, I know. I did cook two eggs in the salted water and try peeling one without the icy water. I think the ice water did make a slight, but not huge, difference.

Marcy Kaminski said… (on April 15, 2009 at 18:17 PM #)

They're so pretty and I LOVE deviled eggs. I made purple cauliflower last night and ended up with beautiful violet water. Would have made a great dye but do you think the boiled egg smell and cauliflower water would leave a lovely scent, LOL?

Fran said… (on April 16, 2009 at 10:50 AM #)

Wow, cool! I've been looking for a better way to hard-boil, er I mean hard-cook eggs. Neato!
Will you bring some devilled eggs with you when you come over? :-)

Patti said… (on April 16, 2009 at 20:26 PM #)

Yes Fran, I will! Good snack for next knitting knite.


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