So how do you hard-boil eggs? Bet you’re like me and have done it wrong for years.

    Boiling eggs should be easy, but there’s some science here. The goal is to produce eggs that are easy to peel and to avoid that ugly green smear around the yolk.

    We begin by renaming the process. It’s not hard-boiling. It’s coddling, and that means babying the eggs.


    So how do you hard-boil eggs? Bet you’re like me and have done it wrong for years.
    Boiling eggs should be easy, but there’s some science here. The goal is to produce eggs that are easy to peel and to avoid that ugly green smear around the yolk.
    We begin by renaming the process. It’s not hard-boiling. It’s coddling, and that means babying the eggs.
    But first, we must destroy the myth that freshest eggs are the best. They are not for coddling. Fresh eggs have a tenacious membrane between the shell and the egg, that thin, rubbery layer you see when peeling. This causes the shells to stick, agonizingly. Your beautiful, white eggs become pitted on peeling, and you lose a lot of the whites.

Use older eggs
    Use week-old eggs. The membrane is still there, but age moderates its strength. The shells come off neatly and in large pieces.
    The other advantage of older eggs is the air pocket. All eggs have one (it jump starts the baby chick). The air pocket on older eggs is larger, and that helps speed efficient peeling.
OK, our eggs are properly aged. So how do we prevent cracking in the hot water? Never boil eggs with damaged shells. Make sure they are at room temperature. The cold causes expansion when shocked with heat.
Place your eggs in a single layer in a pan. They won’t cook evenly if you pile them. Cover them with water, an inch above. More just delays the process. Then turn on the heat to high.
    Now for the coddling. This requires us to rethink everything we know about boiling eggs. Watch for the first signs of boiling. When you see the bubbles, take the pan off the burner, cover with a tight lid and start your timer. Figure 17 minutes for large eggs and 20 minutes for jumbos.
Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Let them cool for 10 minutes, then refrigerate. That’s it.

Peel under water
    Now, the peeling: Do it under water. The membrane becomes slippery and zips right off. Peel single eggs under the cold faucet. Peel groups in a bowl of cold water.
    That’s the story. Give it a try.
How to judge egg freshness: Place the egg in a bowl of water. If it lays on its side, it’s fresh. If it stands on one end, it’s good for boiling (this is due to the expansion of the air pocket at the top as the egg ages).
    If it floats to the top on its side, like a dead fish, it’s probably rotten.

Send cooking questions to jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.