The perfect hard-boiled egg must shell easily, have an unblemished white and a yellow, flakey yolk with no tinge of green sulfur surrounding it.
I grew up believing that hard-boiled eggs were automatically perfect. A pin-prick through the shell on the rounded side usually prevented them from cracking when they were put into boiling water for 8-10 minutes, after which the boiling water was tipped out and replaced with cold running water. The eggshells were cracked to prevent the formation of the green sulfur ring between the yolk and white. (I later learned that over-cooking causes the egg white to become rubbery and a chemical reaction between the hydrogen and sulfur in the white forms hydrogen sulfide. This reacts with the iron in the yolk and results in the formation of a green sulfur ring around the yolk.)
Once cool, the eggs would shell easily.
I’m not sure what changed – the eggs, the hens, the hen’s diet, the environment, or just me? Whatever it was, the eggs no longer shelled easily – the shell invariably stuck to the white, would come away in tiny pieces, with difficulty, and the yolk was sometimes slightly moist. The timing and something else was obviously off.
The following easy method now works for me –
I use large hens eggs – adjust the time for small, extra-large or jumbo-sized eggs.
Place the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan or pot, and add enough cold tap water to completely cover them by at least an inch or more.
Add a liberal sprinkling of salt to the water. (The salt will ‘set’ the white should any cracks form as the eggs heat up.)
Place the saucepan on the stove and bring the water to the boil.
Once boiling, set the timer for 10 minutes, while keeping the water bubbling.
Carefully pour off the boiling water, and transfer the eggs directly to a bowl of icy cold water with ice. (The heat, followed by extreme cold will cause the egg to contract away from the shell.)
Shell the eggs from the broad, rounded side, where the air pocket is. The membrane is more obvious here, can be ‘torn’ and used to pull off the shell more easily.
The eggs should have all the properties of a perfect hard-boiled egg!
The uses for hard-boiled eggs are endless
- devilled or curried eggs,
- addition to meals such as spinach pancakes (page 34 in our book, South African Cooking in the USA), pasta and fish dishes,
- salads, with or without Hollandaise sauce,
- egg-mayo sandwiches,
- a healthy snack (just as is).