Eggs. One of the cornerstones of cooking, they can be enjoyed in a multitude of delicious ways. Eaten in moderation, eggs are a healthy source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them a complete protein, and also contain 12 of the 13 vitamins, lacking only vitamin C. In theory, you could live off of eggs alone as long as you had a small source of vitamin C to supplement them.
Eggs can be found in every non-vegan cuisine on the planet, and not just in the form of chicken eggs – gull, ostrich, pheasant, Guinea fowl, goose, emu, duck, and quail eggs are all eaten regularly. The chicken egg is king though, eaten everywhere and eaten a lot. In one month, the population of the USA eats approximately 8 billion eggs!
When shopping for eggs, there are many different styles to choose from. Here is a bit of information to demystify store-bought eggs for you:
White or Brown: There is no flavour or nutritional difference between white or brown eggs. White eggs are laid by white feathered chickens and brown eggs from red feathered chickens. Even though there is no real difference, I still enjoy brown eggs more for some reason!
Size: Eggs are available in different sizes. To put it simply, the older a laying hen becomes, the larger the eggs she lays. The eggs then get sorted by size. Buy whatever you prefer, but know that most recipes (including all of the information in this newsletter) deal with large sized eggs.
No Label: These eggs are the cheapest available, but are laid by chickens in very distressing circumstances. The cramped quarters and nasty conditions aren’t a pretty sight.
Free Run: These hens don’t live in cages, but may live in cramped indoor quarters that aren’t too much better.
Free Range: These hens are kept inside barns that have perches and some extra space. They are also allowed to go outside when weather or timing permits.
Omega 3: These eggs were laid by hens that are fed a diet high in flax seed, enriching them with extra Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be good for your health. If you already eat a healthy, varied diet, there is no real need to buy these.
Organic: Hens are fed organic feed and likely live in conditions similar to free range. The term organic is still pretty loose though (in Canada anyways) so find the logo on the package and research it to see if they truly live up to proper organic standards.
The Best Bet: Find a small local farm in the area and support it. Driving through the country-side, you often see “Eggs for Sale” signs. Stop by, buy some eggs, see if they have anything else for sale and maybe develop a relationship. I know this option isn’t available to everyone, but try your best to find a good egg hookup. The chickens are likely to have lived a much happier life, which makes the eggs taste better!
To Refrigerate or To Not Refrigerate…?
In North America, we tend to refrigerate our eggs, but in Europe and elsewhere, eggs are usually left on the counter. Why is this?
When an egg is laid, it is covered with a protective barrier or membrane known as the cuticle. When you wash eggs, the cuticle gets removed. Once removed, the egg is open to infection by bacteria, so it must be refrigerated to be kept safe. In Europe (and elsewhere) they don’t wash their eggs, and in North America they do.
If you have your own laying hens, you can collect the eggs fresh and keep them on the counter no problem.
2. Transfer the egg into a small bowl or cup, then tip it gently into hot water that’s sitting just below a simmer. Doing this will help the egg keep its shape. You don’t need to put salt or vinegar in the water and there is no real need to stir the water to create a vortex.
When it comes to hard boiling eggs…
there are many ways to do so, but I’d like to share my method, which I find reliably results in perfectly cooked eggs every time. Other methods follow similar procedures, so feel free to try out a few different ways of hard boiling and choose the one you like best, but once you do, stick with it. Also, keep in mind that those living at higher altitudes may need to adjust cooking times. Lastly, all of these times are for large sized eggs. Smaller eggs, or extra large eggs will result in different levels of doneness if you follow these cooking times.
Here is the way I do it:
- If the eggs were in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before cooking, or run them under warm water. This will ensure they don’t crack when introduced to hot water.
- Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil.
- Carefully add the eggs in with a spoon, gently rolling them onto the bottom of the pot (instead of dropping them in, which may crack them).
- Set the timer on the stove and cook for however long you’d like (see below).
- Once the timer goes off, immediately remove the eggs with a spoon and plunge into cold water to stop them from cooking. This is important!
- Once cool, remove the shell and eat, or leave the shell on and store in the fridge.
5 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 5 minutes will give you very soft eggs, with completely runny yolks and a just-set white.
6 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes will give you soft eggs, with set whites and yolks that are loose, but not runny. When people refer to “jammy” eggs, this is what they are talking about.
These are perfect for adding to ramen, laksa, or other Asian soups that benefit from an egg garnish.
7 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 7 minutes will give you jammy eggs with yolks that are beginning to harden around the edges. This is basically the half-way point between a soft and hard boiled egg.
I find these are often a crowd pleaser for breakfasts or brunches. They’re also great if you’d like a little bit of rich runny yolk in your egg salad. Just chop these guys up, add mayo, and the yolks will help make the sauce when you mix it all together.
8 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 8 minutes will give you whites that are still pliable, and yolks that are mostly set, with some jamminess in the centre.
In my opinion, these are the best bet for your classic hard boiled egg – great for breakfast, egg salad, you name it. This is the level of doneness I usually strive for when making pickled eggs, or Scotch eggs as well.
9 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 9 minutes will give you whites that are beginning to harden (not in a good way) but are still fine, and yolks that are mostly set.
If the thought of any runniness in eggs turns you off, then I would go with these. Personally though, I never go beyond 8 minutes, unless I’m specifically looking to use a hardened yolk.
10 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 10 minutes will give you whites verging on gumminess and yolks that are pretty much set, but not chalky yet.
I think these are perfect for making devilled eggs.
11 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 11 minutes will give you slightly gummy whites and yolks that are cooked all of the way through. Notice that they still have a bright yellow, sunny disposition and haven’t yet turned green around the edges.
If you like your eggs completely cooked through, this is how long you should cook them for. I don’t recommend cooking eggs for any longer.
12 Minute Eggs
Cooking the eggs in boiling water for 12 minutes will give you slightly gummy whites and fully cooked yolks, verging on chalkiness. They still look nice though, lacking the dreaded green edges you get from overcooked eggs.
These are fine, but I wouldn’t recommend cooking eggs this long unless you enjoy that slightly chalky texture that a lot of us associate with hard boiled eggs due to how they were cooked when we were growing up.
These eggs were cooked for over 15 minutes, then were left sitting in the warm water until I got around to them. As can be seen, the white has become rough and rubbery and the yolk has turned a nasty green colour. The texture of the yolk has also become chalky instead of creamy. They also smell much more of sulphur than all of the other eggs I cooked.
Unfortunately, I find people cook their eggs like this often but by following my guide, and being sure to shock the eggs in cold water after cooking, you can avoid the dreaded green ring from now on.
Being able to control the exact way you like your eggs feels wonderful and, despite its simplicity, makes you come across as a real eggspert! I’m sorry, that’s the one and only pun I’ll do here.
There are many ways to peel an egg, but this is how I do it, which seems to work most of the time. Hold the egg with the pointy end facing down. Tap it on a hard surface several times. Now peel back the broken shell, being sure get UNDER THE MEMBRANE, as seen in this picture. The egg white should feel smooth and wet. If it doesn’t, you’re likely on top of the membrane, and that will result in large chunks of egg coming off with it. Sometimes running water over the egg will help lift that membrane up so you can get your fingers under it.
Older eggs have looser membranes, so if you’re planning on hard boiling a couple dozen eggs, you’re better off getting older eggs rather than nice fresh ones. Don’t bother with any baking soda in the boiling water or other silly hacks, they don’t work. Use older eggs, and know that no matter what you do, sometimes you’re going to mangle an egg while peeling it. Do what I do and pop it into your mouth and cook up a new one!
The fresher the egg, the harder it will be to peel.
Here’s a trick for those of you who like pickled eggs. Though you can find all sorts of fun recipes online to make them from scratch, I employ this method whenever I happen to have a jar of pickle juice.
Once you’ve eaten all of the pickles out of jar, hard boil a few eggs, peel them, then throw them into the pickle liquid. Put the jar back into the fridge and let them hang out for 2-3 days. That’s it! Enjoy the pickled eggs within a few days, then discard the liquid (which can only be used once like this).