One of the most important steps in cooking is planning ahead. That goes the same for your Easter eggs. This is a simple suggestion: buy your eggs this week.
For easier peeling, eggs should be 7-10 days old. This isn’t rocket science. When an egg is fresh the white is very attached to the shell. As the egg gets a little older it starts to dehydrate. This forms a small air sac around the egg that helps to separate the egg membrane from the shell. Thus, when you hard cook the “older” egg it’s easier to peel.
To help make peeling even easier, the American Egg Board (http://www.incredibleegg.org) says to peel the egg soon after cooling because cooling causes it to contract slightly in the shell. They also recommend to gently tap the egg on the countertop until the shell is finely crackled all over. Then roll the egg between your hands to loosen in the shell. Start peeling at the large end. Holding the egg under cold running water helps ease the shell off.
I know there are lots of suggestions out there on what you can do to help make peeling an egg easier…everything from putting pinholes in the shell to adding vinegar or salt to the water. But none of these ideas really work and some may actually allow bacteria to enter the egg. The best bet is to plan ahead and use just a little “older” eggs.
A quick food safety reminder: age does count after the eggs are cooked. Hard cooked eggs should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a week.
Speaking of hard cooked eggs. I have a personal “pet peeve”. I know it’s semantics or just me being picky, but it really bugs me when people say “hard-boiled eggs”. I always try to say “hard-cooked eggs”, because I learned a long time ago that eggs should NEVER be boiled.
Overcooking—as is frequently done when boiling an egg—causes that ugly green “halo” around the yolk. This green ring is harmless but doesn’t look very appetizing when making deviled eggs or serving hard cooked eggs. It is a reaction between the sulfur in the egg white and the iron in the egg yolk that occurs when the eggs have been cooked too long or at too high a temperature.
These recommendations come from the National Egg Board (incredibleegg.org)—sadly, they call them “hard-boiled” too. I thought of all people they’d stress cooking not boiling.
To hard cook eggs: place the raw eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by one inch. Cook over high heat JUST to boiling. REMOVE from burner and cover pan. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium and 15 minutes for extra-large.) Drain immediately and serve warm or cool quickly and completely under cold running water or in a bowl of ice water. If you don’t cool them quickly you may still get that green ring, because the eggs continue to cook inside the shell. Store the cooled eggs in the refrigerator.
Here is a basic recipe to color the hard cooked eggs:
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 22 drops of food color
- 1 cup hot water from tap
- Place ingredients in glass bowl or measuring cup that is deep enough to submerge the eggs.
- Allow the eggs to set for 5 to 8 minutes depending on the color intensity desired.
- Remove with a fork and allow to dry on a rack.
- You can use crayons to make patterns on the eggs. And you can re-dye eggs again for various color combos.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. They make fun after-school snacks and can be used on salads during the week.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State Univerisity
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