How To: Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs (really!)

With 8 chickens for only 3 humans, there is never a shortage of fresh eggs at our house. I can cook eggs in a ton of delicious ways. There was one way that frustratingly eluded me: hard-boiled, and all the things you can make with them.

Fresh eggs are notoriously difficult to peel, because the membrane under the shell has not had weeks of time to thin and separate that grocery store eggs have. Friends on the chicken circuit have given much advise, which I will outline for you here.

1.) Separate a however many you need and put them in the back of the fridge for a few weeks, and then boil as usual. -That takes way more planning than I’m capable of, and also seems to me to put shame to the point of fresh eggs anyway.

2.) Put a tablespoon of baking soda in the boiling water. (Variations- 2 Tbsp; equal amounts baking soda and vinegar) This doesn’t work. The many times I was desperate enough to try it, I guess I could say that sometimes the peels came off easier, but I was always left with lots of wasted whites, and pock-marked, sad looking eggs okay for egg salad, but that’s about it.

3.) Baking eggs. Yes, that’s right, on a baking sheet, in the oven. This actually worked okay. The original email I got about this suggested 350 degrees for 30 minutes. This was way too long for my oven, with tweaking I ended up at 300 for about 22 minutes, and directly into ice water to stop cooking. The eggs peeled pretty easily, but only in comparison to boiling in baking soda water. I remember grocery store eggs coming off in lovely large pieces of easy. I wanted that again.

About a month ago, I was chopping up some broccoli for the steamer, and next to me were the eggs I had gathered that afternoon. On a whim I rinsed off my eggs, and set them in the steamer basket while I finished my broccoli. I steamed them for ten minutes, then dropped them in cold water. After they’d cooled off enough to handle, I peeled on, and hot damn! It peeled like eggs peel in my fantasies. Don’t judge. However, what I had was a perfect soft boiled egg. I was onto something, but I needed a longer cook time.

The next day I steamed for 18 minutes and dunked them in ice water. Perfect! I made beautiful deviled eggs for the first time in years.

Hooray!

Now I am sure I’m not the first person to do this. Now that I do it all the time, I wonder how it took so long to think of this. I steam everything, why not eggs? I just want to make sure I’m not the last person to cook their eggs this way. Try it, fresh or store bought, you’ll never go back, I promise.

I know everyone has their families famous deviled egg recipe, so I’m not going to go there. In fact I couldn’t anyway, since I don’t follow one. But I thought I’d share my method, which is mood and ratio based.

I mash up my yolks with mayo, and then add other ingredients to what sounds good at the time. If I want a bit of sweet in there, I’ll put in a tsp. of sweet relish. My rule being, if I put in sweet, there has to be hot to balance, so if I put in sweet relish, I’ll add some form of heat, in sauce form, or if they’re in season, minced peppers. Sometime I just feel simple, and go with dill and vinegar etc. When I have my filling right, I put it into a zip top bag and snip off the corner to pipe into the eggs. This is just easier for me, because I always mess up spooning it in. It’s hard to mess up a deviled egg, but I do have fun trying!

Happy steaming!

(Originally published on 7/5/12)

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