Hard boiling (and peeling) fresh eggs from the market

We buy eggs from a vendor at the farmer’s market in Laguna Beach. Mostly we eat them hard cooked, for breakfast and occasionally on a salad or with some asparagus. They are quite fresh at the time of purchase – at most a couple of days after they are gathered, and they are delicious.

One can find any number of different recommendations as to the best technique for producing “perfect” hard cooked eggs. Our chosen method is to place the eggs in a saucepan, no more than will fit loosely in one layer, add cold tap water to the pan until it is nearly full, cover and heat just to the boiling point over medium high heat. Then we remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes (we set a timer). When the timer goes off, we pour off the hot water, and chill the eggs in ice water until they are quite cold. We drain and dry them and store them in the refrigerator. This method seems to reliably produce eggs with yolks that are cooked through with no discoloration, and whites that are not rubbery. Note: if the eggs seem larger than normal, we let them stand for 11 minutes.

Peeling fresh eggs that have been hard cooked presents a challenge. The fresher the eggs, the harder they are to peel without turning them into something that looks more like a white, pock-marked asteroid than an appetizing food item. We have found a couple of solutions that seem to work at least most of the time. One is to let the eggs “age” in the refrigerator for a week or more before cooking them. This makes them more like grocery store eggs, but at least you know for sure where they have been. The other is to cook them when fresh, as above, but heat them slightly in hot tap water for a minute or two before peeling. The heat makes the shell expand a bit and pull away from the egg white a tiny bit. I can’t say that this method is completely foolproof, but it often works great. Enjoy!

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