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the [new] secret to easy-to-peel boiled eggs

boiled eggs with curried chickpeas2boiled eggs with curried chickpeas3
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Ever had a problem with peeling boiled eggs?

It seems you’re not alone.

Almost 2 years ago, I went on a quest for the ‘secret’ to perfectly peeled boiled eggs. I wrote about my findings over here.

While I still use some of that method, there are parts I’ve abandoned over time.

the ‘old’ secret

I’m sure anyone who has eaten boiled eggs at my place over the last few years will be happy to hear I haven’t actually been ‘blowing’ on the eggs to remove the shells.

It doesn’t feel right from a hygiene perspective. Even if the results are great looking eggs.

So I’ve been on the lookout for a new ‘secret’ for a while.

Thankfully, heaps of people had shared their suggestions and tips (and disgust at the blowing method) in the comments. So I had plenty of inspiration.

the ‘new’ secret

I’m now convinced there are two key steps.

1. only peel cooled eggs
Whenever I’m in a hurry and I start peeling before my eggs are cool, I end up with craters.

2. crack & roll
Cracking the shell all over and rolling between your hands separates the membrane from the egg and really makes a difference to the peeling experience.

A big thankyou to everyone who left suggestions on my previous post.

For those of you who prefer a little more detail…

8 tips for moon-crater-free boiled eggs

1. use older eggs.
Pretty much by the time you get eggs home from the supermarket they’ll be old enough. But if you’re lucky enough to have access to super fresh eggs, save them for poaching and keep the older ones for boiling, if you can.

2. poach or bicarb
If straight-from-the-hen-house-fresh eggs are your only option, think about poaching instead. Or add 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda to the egg cooking water.

3. start cold
Starting the cooking with cold water decreases the chances of eggs cracking as you add them to a hot pan of water. It also evens out the cooking time so it doesn’t matter if your eggs were cold from the fridge or at room temperature.

4. be precise
Overcooked eggs can be more problematic to peel. And who wants rubbery eggs anyway? So use a timer and stick to it.

5. cool quickly
Slow cooked eggs are more likely to develop greenish-grey colouring on the outside of the yolks. Cooling quickly can prevent this discolouration occurring. Drain eggs from the pan and transfer to a cool bowl. Run water over the eggs then let them sit in cold water to complete the cooling.

6. cool thoroughly
I’ve noticed that warm eggs are more difficult to peel, regardless of their freshness. So make sure the eggs are cool before starting.

7. crack first
When you’re ready to peel, crack the shell all over by gently hitting it on the side of the sink, or another flat surface. This can be done before leaving the eggs to cool completely in water if you like.

I’ve also tried a method using a spoon to crack a ring around the circumference of the egg. Then carefully remove the ‘belt’ before lifting off the top and bottom halves of the shell. Not quite as easy as the crack-all-over method, but worth trying if you’re into exploring advanced egg peeling ;)

8. roll gently between your hands
The rolling is a new technique for me, but it seems to help loosen the membrane, making peeling a cinch.

boiled eggs with curried chickpeas 8

moon-crater-free boiled eggs
makes as many eggs as you need

If you have more time, you can also bring the eggs to a simmer. Cover the pot and remove from the heat and stand for 20 minutes.

as many eggs as you need

1. Place eggs in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer.

2. When the eggs start simmering, set your timer for 8 minutes.

3. As soon as your timer rings, drain the eggs and transfer to a bowl. Run cold water over the eggs for a minute and then let the eggs sit in the water until cool.

4. Bash the eggs on the side of your sink to crack the shells all over.

5. Roll the egg between your hands to help loosen the membrane. Gently peel the membrane and shell from the eggs.

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video version of the recipe

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boiled eggs with curried chickpeas

boiled eggs with curried chickpeas
serves 2

Inspired by the kedgeree recipe that accompanied my previous boiled egg post. The chickpeas work even better than the rice to accompany the eggs.

I find with all the protein from the eggs and chickpeas, the fish in the original recipe isn’t needed at all. Feel free to add in some canned salmon if you like.

2-4 eggs
1 onion, diced
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

1. Place eggs in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer.

2. When the eggs start simmering, set your timer for 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan on a medium heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes.

4. When the onion is soft, add the curry powder and stir for 15-20 seconds before adding the chickpeas. Continue to cook for another minute or until the chickpeas are warmed through. Season and remove from the heat.

5. As soon as your timer rings, drain the eggs and transfer to a bowl. Run cold water over the eggs for a minute and then let the eggs sit in the water until cool.

6. Bash the eggs on the side of your sink to crack the shells, then roll between your hands to help loosen the membrane. Gently peel the membrane and shell from the eggs.

7. Halve the eggs. Serve on top of the warm chickpeas with the parsley.

VARIATIONS

vegan – skip the eggs and serve with a generous handful of roasted cashews or almonds.

egg-free – serve chickpeas topped with fresh bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella torn into chunks.

leafier – serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves, or wilt a few handfuls of spinach or kale leaves in with the chickpeas.

kedgeree – replace the chickpeas with 1 1/2 cups cooked rice and add in some flaked smoked haddock, cod or salmon.

different spice – replace the curry powder with garam marsala or a combo of ground cumin and ground coriander.
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video version of the recipe

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recently on the stonesoup diaries

§ the easiest way to make sure your fish is super fresh
§ the best vegetable for stir fries
§ the brunch of champions

preserve like your nanna class

preserves class logoThe first class this year at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School is all about preserving.

And it’s now online.

If you’ve ever wanted to perfect your jam making, marmalade or pickling skills, this is the class for you!

Get access to ‘Preserve Like Your Nanna’ and over 13 other classes when you join.

For more details go to:
www.stonesoupvirtualcookeryschool.com/landing/all/

Cheers
Jules x

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{ 38 comments… add one }

  • Faith | Minimalist at Home 24 January, 2012, 6:35 am

    I’ve got to send this to my grandmother. She boils her eggs for an hour! The last time I tried to gently explain she was WAY over cooking them she lowered the time down to 45 minutes. ;-) Maybe she’ll take your word for it though.

  • Candy @ Candy Girl 24 January, 2012, 6:37 am

    Thanks for the tips! I used to never have trouble peeling eggs but it seems like it gets more difficult all the time.

  • Paola Yevenes 24 January, 2012, 8:56 am

    Thanks for this article. It’s a skill, isn’t it? We all presume we can do it, but not all of us can. At least, I can’t. Today, that changed. Thanks, again :)

  • Jen 24 January, 2012, 11:51 am

    Hi Clancy, thanks for the info. Ive posted a link to Hip Pressure Cooking site with a tutorial on using a Pressure Cooker for cooking eggs. Apparently with fresh eggs there its all about the air space at the bottom of the egg. With aged eggs this increases, and makes peeling much easier but you can get around it if you have a pressure cooker. L
    http://www.hippressurecooking.com/2011/04/hip-modernist-soft-medium-and-hard.html
    Love your blog
    Jen :)

  • Beth 24 January, 2012, 2:11 pm

    Wonderful – I made your curried chickpeas this evening and I’m smitten! Thanks for the great food combinations. Quick, easy and so inexpensive! : )

  • Rebecca 24 January, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I can’t wait to make this tomorrow for dinner.

  • jules 24 January, 2012, 5:14 pm

    Hi Faith
    Wow I’m almost tempted to boil and egg for an hour just to see how rubbery it turns out! Hope you have better luck in convincing your grandmother

    Jen
    Thanks for the pressure cooker tips… they always scare me though

    Beth
    So glad you enjoyed.. they’re one of my favourite things at the moment… smitten is a great word!

  • Anna @ the shady pine 24 January, 2012, 6:21 pm

    Great tips thank you for sharing them. I think eggs are a really underrated meal ingredient and this curry chickpea recipe looks so appetising!

  • Noelle 24 January, 2012, 6:26 pm

    Thank you for adding variations at the end of most of your recipies, I enjoy that. I often change recipies due to the fact that I am missing one ingredient or another; your suggestions will help in those cases.

  • Noelle 24 January, 2012, 6:32 pm

    Of course should be recipes not recipies… either I have pie on the brain or I am simply a pea brain!

  • Tori 24 January, 2012, 9:10 pm

    Awesome recipe… I had the curried chickpeas for dinner tonight, but i hate hard boiled eggs so I scrambled my eggs instead and mixed it all together, it was delicious!

  • Tina Smith 25 January, 2012, 5:29 am

    I’ve been using this method for years. It’s amazingly simple!

  • Alisha 26 January, 2012, 7:14 am

    this looks lovely! Just thought I would share my own secret to perfectly peeled eggs. Whenever I let mine cool the shell gets stuck to the egg, so as soon as they are done cooking I drain them and rinse with cold water and drain again they are usually still warm so I pick one out turn on the faucet and crack and begin to peel running under cold water to keep my fingers from burning and try to get the shell off in chunks. this is the only method that has ever worked for me.

  • daniel 26 January, 2012, 8:01 am

    love the recipe idea! just the general combination of hard boiled eggs + chickpeas sounded lovely, so i made them with spinach, chili powder, and lime juice – total success! thank you!

  • chinmayie @ love food eat 26 January, 2012, 6:42 pm

    Hey! I am new to your blog and I simply love your photos, recipes and writing. SO happy to discover your space :)

  • Michelle 27 January, 2012, 6:46 pm

    I can testify as to how hard it is to peel fresh eggs…I have four lovely chooks in my back yard and have yet to be able to peel an egg without losing chunks of it…even though I do use the older ones…but I’ve never tried the rolling technique so I’ll see how that goes I’ll give it another go!

    Love your recipes (haven’t bought bread since I discovered your no knead sourdough) and will be trying out this chickpea recipe as soon as I can.

    Thanks
    Mich

  • TFrazer 28 January, 2012, 1:59 am

    FYI, I add a tablespoon of vinegar when first placing the eggs in the pot with the water. It prevents any eggs that may be cracked from oozing whites out during the boiling process.

  • Stacy 28 January, 2012, 7:01 pm

    I just made this and it was even better than I expected. Thanks so much for this recipe. So simple, quick, and delicious. I’ll be making this again- often.
    Oh, and the eggs were perfect too. :-)

  • Nina 28 January, 2012, 10:26 pm

    I’ve been going through a legumes fever recently (they’re so good for me and my student budget) and stonesoup became a daily source of ideas and food goodness. I just tried this recipe, with a dusting of smokes paprika instead of curry, it was just as lovely ! Thank you !

  • Tom 29 January, 2012, 3:32 am

    The way I hard boil eggs, is to place them in a pot of cold water so that each egg is covered by the water, bring the pot to boil (uncovered), and when the boiling point is reached, place the pot off-heat and cover the pot with its lid. Let it stand for 10 minutes, and then transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice-water to stop the eggs from further cooking.

    After a few minutes soak in the bowl of ice-water, I break the shell of each egg rolling it to separate the shell from its membrane and induce smaller cracks around the shell and then easily peel the shell from the egg. Works every time, and the yolks are yellow (no green).

  • The Food Sage 29 January, 2012, 9:28 pm

    I’ve become used to losing half the egg when i peel them. After reading your post, i put it down to my impatience … i often peel while they’re still warm (at times, hot!!)
    I resolve to be more patient with my egg peeling in future. Thanks for the tips!

  • Anna @ the shady pine 31 January, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Love this post…great ideas that are handy and actually useful for the everyday.

  • Maire Smith 31 January, 2012, 6:04 pm

    I can never get eggs to peel easily unless I do it under running water. I think this must have much the same effect as the ‘blowing’ thing, but without the risk of adding bacteria from your breath.

    Have you tried it? You can also peel the eggs while they’re hot that way.

  • Denise Smith 7 March, 2012, 9:42 am

    I’ve never had any trouble peeling boiled eggs – I cook them, cool them under cold water, leave them to cool a little longer, crack them on the side of the sink – and then peel them under running water. I think the running water is the key – it loosens the membrane from the egg.

  • Aida 1 April, 2012, 11:53 am

    Looove your site!
    Another little secret for easy egg peeling – add a few TBSP of salt in the water you will be cooking the eggs in.

  • Gina 4 August, 2012, 12:33 am

    I need to ‘bring a plate’ tomorrow for a shared lunch.
    I decided on egg salad.
    Now I have 8 perfectly peeled boiled eggs.
    I’m going to chop them up and
    noone will appreciate my perfectly peeled eggs.
    Oh well, I do.
    Thanks, Jules.

    • jules 13 August, 2012, 7:43 am

      But you will know Gina!
      Jx

  • Vee 4 August, 2012, 3:52 pm

    That’s just the way my great grandmother taught me how to do it and I’ve never had a problem!

    • jules 13 August, 2012, 7:45 am

      Your great grandmother must have been very wise Vee!

  • Laurie 23 November, 2012, 2:34 am

    My husband always removes the eggs and runs cold water over them & adds ice. This really cools them quickly & they are much easier to peel.

    • jules 26 November, 2012, 3:00 pm

      Thanks for the tip Laurie

  • Nicole 24 December, 2012, 10:37 am

    I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you! You have saved me so much time and frustration! I really appreciate your helpful tips! This was the first time I’ve had perfectly peeled eggs and I did it in under half of the time I usually do! Thanks again!

  • Monica 26 January, 2013, 12:44 pm

    I am just new to your blog, but am really enjoying it.

    I just had to share with you my way of hard-‘boiling’ eggs, and that is to BAKE them. Put them in the oven for 30 minutes, at about 335 degrees (you may want to test and vary depending on your oven and hardness preference). Also, just place them in a muffin tin (so they don’t roll around). I thought for sure they would all explode on me, but this is not the case – perfectly cooked eggs, and mess-free.

  • Georgia 8 February, 2013, 4:34 pm

    put salt in water that eggs are boiling and it will make them peel easier.

  • Clark Peterson 11 March, 2013, 6:47 am

    When the eggs are boiled and cooled, I crack the shells and roll them in my hands until their kinda fractured. Then I break out each end, and from the big end I peel away enough shell that I can slip in the end of a table spoon between the membrane and the egg, and with a little water running on it I just keep slipping the spoon between the membrane and the egg until I’ve peeled all the shell off. The running water seems to lubricate the process. … My wife thinks I’m nuts, but it works for me.

  • Jim murff 24 March, 2013, 2:06 pm

    Break the shell then slip a spoon under shell a slide around egg and under shell when you are peeling eggs while doing a cookin shoot and you are paying for a crew and talent you have not got time to pick off pices of egg shell from eggs

  • Kristin 19 April, 2013, 4:02 am

    I crack the egg on top and bottom, remove enough shell to expose the white then roll it between my hands, the shell comes off, usually, in one go. No more craters!

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