A few years ago, Cooks Illustrated came through with the secret to perfect soft-cooked eggs, and we wondered whether the same priciples would lead to perfect hard-boiled eggs—an especially relevant question just before Easter.
First, the secret for soft-cooking the eggs was steaming: All you do is bring a 1/2-inch of water to boil (which happens in no time with only a 1/2-inch!) before placing eggs in the water, lowering the temperature to medium, and re-covering it. Then you set a timer for 6-1/2 minutes. This yields tender, warm whites and reliably runny yolks–whether one egg or six—every time. It’s like magic.
For hard-cooked eggs, I tried doing the same thing for 10 minutes. It worked, too, but the shells were harder to peel. I’d heard this has to do with the age of the eggs, but it didn’t seem to be making much difference.
Cooks Illustrated to the rescue again! As it turns out, everyone who tried the first method had the same question. And they explained that the eggs are sticking to the membrane, not the shell: “when an egg is very fresh or when it’s cooked slowly, the proteins in the white bond to the membrane instead of to one another, and the membrane becomes cemented to the white and impossible to peel away.”
The secret to perfect hard-cooked eggs that are easy-to-peel is to reduce the cooking time! Here are the steps:
Always begin with boiling water; never cold. Bring one inch of water to boil.
Use the steaming method. Place a single layer of eggs (as few or as many as you like) into a steamer basket over the inch of water and set a timer for 13 minutes.
Stop the cooking immediately. Transfer the eggs to an ice bath to prevent them from cooking longer.
You can read all about the tests they did to figure this out—and a tip for peeling eggs fast—on Cooks Illustrated.
P.S. A Pinterest Board full of Easter inspiration.