Peeling a fresh, hard-boiled egg can be a frustrating experience. As most of you know, eggs from farms or backyard hens are exceptionally tasty but oh-so-hard-to-peel when hard-boiled. The shell sticks to the membrane inside the shell and, when peeled, a good deal of the white comes off with it. The problem is caused by the moisture content in fresh eggs. The egg-shell is porous and normally, over time, the egg looses moisture. Supermarket eggs can be weeks or even months old. Dehydration causes the membrane inside the shell to separate and the liquid inside the shell to thicken.
Whenever I give my extra eggs to someone, I remind them that these less-than-week old eggs will be hard to peel if hard-boiled. A little research, I think, is in order to see if there is a way to make the process easier. There are step-by-step directions on WikeHow using salt or vinegar to help toughen the membrane surrounding the white of the egg and as a result, making the shell easier to remove. At What’s Cooking in America I found an article that suggested that adding salt to water before boiling makes the whites of eggs rubbery. All articles I’ve found suggest you use eggs at least a week old or more for hard boiling.
Just for fun I set up my own experiment. I selected week-old eggs from Tulip (the Ameruacana), Daisy (the Buff Orpington), and Rosie the (Rhode Island Red). I figured that if I used the eggs of just those three hens in both experiments, I’d eliminate at least one variable. See, I was awake during my 8th grade science class. I let the eggs come to room temperature, covered the eggs with cold water (1 inch over the top), put 1 Tbs. of vinegar and 1 Tbs. of salt, in one of the pans, and brought the water to a simmer. In the other pot I used plain water. I let the pots simmer for two minutes, covered them, and removed the eggs from the heat. I let the eggs sit, covered, for 15 minutes.
I drained the eggs, shook the pans so that eggs would crackle, and put them into bowls filled with ice water. When the eggs cooled to the touch, I peeled them, (that is, I tried to peel them).
The results? Not so good. The week-old boiled eggs were nearly impossible to peel without damaging the whites. I saw no difference in the ones simmered in salt and vinegar, and the ones simmered in plain water. The eggs were tender and delicious and no green around the yolk (which is caused by boiling them at a high temperature). What I learned: next time I’ll set aside a dozen eggs for two weeks before boiling them, use plain water, and maybe I’ll try this technique! I’ll let you know what happens. If you have the secret of cooking fresh hard-boiled eggs please tell us about it!