Antony's covers all the options for great boiled eggs just how you like them every single time.
Put the eggs into gently boiling water. Take them out after your desired time.
3 and a half minutes - white still a bit runny (perfect for toast soldiers)
4 and a half minutes - white is firm, the yolk oozes (perfect for toast soldiers)
5 and a half minutes - hard boiled
Put your eggs into boiling water, immediately turn the heat off, pop a lid on and leave for 10 minutes. The white is creamy but still set.
For hardboiled eggs:
Put the eggs into gently boiling water and cook for 5 and a half minutes. Take them out and plunge them into iced water to cool so you can handle them. Lightly crack the shell against a board, roll them quickly, then peel off the shell in a bowl of water (the shell comes off more easily).
Don't ever boil eggs that have come straight from the refrigerator, because very cold eggs plunged straight into hot water are likely to crack.
Always use a kitchen timer – trying to guess the timing or even remembering to look at your watch can be hazardous.
Never over-boil eggs (you won't if you have a timer) – this is the cardinal sin because the yolks will turn black and the texture will be like rubber. If the eggs are very fresh (less than four days old), allow an extra 30 seconds on each timing.
Always use a small saucepan – eggs with too much space to career about and crash into one another while they cook are likely to crack.
Never have the water boiling fast - a gentle simmer is all the eggs need.
Remember that eggs have a pocket at their wide end where air collects and, during the boiling, pressure can build up and cause cracking. A simple way to deal with this is to make a pinprick in the rounded end of the shell, which will allow the steam to escape.
Did you know?
A single hen lays about 280 eggs a year. Light, temperature and feed all affect her laying capacity.
A simple test can be done to determine the freshness of an egg: Drop the egg into cold salted water. If the egg sinks, it is ‘extra fresh’; if it remains suspended in the water, it is about 2 weeks old; if it floats, the egg is not fresh enough to be eaten.
When boiling an egg, if the temperature gets too high (about 70°C) hydrogen sulphide generated by the decomposition of sulphur-containing amino acids in the egg white will react with iron in the yolk causing a harmless dark film of ferrous sulphide to form on the surface of the yolk. Close inspection of a 'greened' yolk sometimes reveals several concentric rings - the yolk develops within the hen in spherical layers and the rings reflect variation in the iron content of the hen's feed or water.
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