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Boiled eggs are eggs (typically chicken's eggs) cooked by immersion in boiling water with their shells unbroken. Eggs cooked in water without their shells are known as poached eggs, while eggs cooked below the boiling temperature, either with or without the shell, are known as coddled eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are either boiled long enough for the egg white and then the egg yolk to solidify, or they are left to cool down, which will gradually solidify them, while a soft-boiled egg yolk, and sometimes even the white, remains at least partially liquid.
There is substantial variation both in desired doneness and in the method of how eggs are boiled, and a variety of kitchen gadgets for eggs exist. These variations include:
- starting temperature
- Room temperature (for more even cooking and to prevent cracking) or from a refrigerator; eggs may be left out overnight to come to room temperature, comparable to how meat is advised to come to room temperature before roasting.
- Some pierce the eggs beforehand with an egg piercer to prevent cracking – though others recommend against this,[note 1] or add vinegar to the water (as is sometimes done with poached eggs) to prevent the white from billowing in case of cracking. For this purpose, table salt can also be used.
- placing in water
- There are various ways to place the eggs in the boiling water and removing: one may place the eggs in the pan prior to heating, lower them in on a spoon, or use a specialized cradle to lower them in. A cradle is also advocated as reducing cracking, since the eggs do not then roll around loose. To remove, one may allow the water to cool, pour off the boiling water, or remove the cradle.
- cooking time
- There is substantial variation, with cooking time being the primary variable affecting doneness (soft-boiled vs. hard-boiled).
- cooking temperature
- In addition to cooking at a rolling boil (at 100°C), one may instead add the egg before a boil is reached, remove water from heat after a boil is reached, or attempt to maintain a temperature below boiling, the latter all variants of coddling.
- After eggs are removed from heat, some cooking continues to occur, particularly of the yolk, due to residual heat, a phenomenon called carry over cooking, also seen in roast meat. For this reason some allow eggs to cool in air or plunge them into cold water as the final stage of preparation.
- Boiled eggs may be served loose, in an eggcup, in an indentation in a plate (particularly a presentation platter of deviled eggs), cut with a knife widthwise, cut lengthwise, cut with a knife or tapped open with a spoon at either end, or peeled (and optionally sliced, particularly if hard-boiled, either manually or with an egg slicer).
Soft boiled eggs are commonly served in egg cups, where the top of the egg is cut off with a knife, spoon or egg scissors, using a teaspoon to scoop the egg out. Other methods include breaking the eggshell by tapping gently around the top of the shell with a spoon. Soft-boiled eggs can be eaten with buttered toast cut into strips, which are then dipped into the runny yolk. In the United Kingdom, these strips of toast are known as 'soldiers'.
In South East Asia, especially countries like Malaysia, soft boiled eggs are commonly eaten at breakfast. The major difference is that, instead of the egg being served in an egg cup, it is cracked into a bowl to which soy sauce and/or pepper is added. This variation is usually eaten with Kaya toast.
Hard-boiled eggs are boiled for longer than soft-boiled eggs, long enough for the yolk to solidify. They can be eaten warm or cold. Hard-boiled eggs are the basis for many dishes, such as egg salad, Cobb salad and Scotch eggs, and may be further prepared as deviled eggs.
Hard-boiled eggs are commonly sliced, particularly for use in sandwiches. For this purpose specialized egg slicers exist, to ease slicing and yield even slices.
There are several theories as to the proper technique of hard-boiling an egg. One method is to bring water to a boil and cook for eight minutes. Another method is to bring the water to a boil, but then remove the pan from the heat and allow eggs to cook in the gradually cooling water. Others prescribe cooking in continually boiling water over heat for a shorter period of time.
Over-cooking eggs will typically result in a thin green sulfur coating on the yolk. Immersing the egg in cold water after boiling is a common method of halting the cooking process to prevent this effect. It also causes a slight shrinking of the contents of the egg, easing the removal of the shell.
Hard-boiled eggs can vary widely in how easy it is to peel away the shells. In general, the fresher an egg before boiling, the more difficult it is to separate the shell cleanly from the egg white. As a fresh egg ages after being processed for human consumption, it gradually loses both moisture and carbon dioxide through pores in the shell; as a consequence, the contents of the egg shrink and the pH of the albumen becomes more basic. Albumen with higher pH (more basic) is less likely to stick to the egg shell, while pockets of air develop in eggs that have lost significant amounts of moisture, also making eggs easier to peel. Adding baking soda to the boiling water can help make it easier to peel the eggs.
- ^ The American Egg Board, an industry group, recommends against piercing shells on food safety grounds: "Piercing shells before cooking is not recommended. If not sterile, the piercer or needle can introduce bacteria into the egg. Also, piercing creates hairline cracks in the shell, through which bacteria can enter after cooking.", Basic Hard-Cooked Eggs, American Egg Board
- ^ "Plan Under Way to Help Lessen Risks from Contaminated Eggs". FDA Consumer magazine. http://www.fda.gov/FDAC/departs/1999/599_upd.html. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- ^ "Fine Manners for Fine Dining". http://www.metro.ca/recevoir-le-monde/art-de-recevoir/abc-belle-table/etiquette-table/elegance-bonnes-manieres-table.en.html#10035544. Retrieved 2006-12-19. .
- ^ "Egg with Toast Soldiers". http://www.icons.org.uk/nom/nominations/eggandsoldiers. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- ^ a b "Soft-Cooked Eggs, Medium-Cooked Eggs, and Hard-Cooked Eggs". http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/BoiledEggs.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- ^ a b "The Egg Files Transcript". http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season1/Egg/EggTranscript.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-20.
- ^ "Learn More About Eggs". http://www.aeb.org/LearnMore/Faqs.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- ^ "Egg-ucation". http://www.bfhd.wa.gov/edu/eggucation.php. Retrieved 2006-12-19. - suggests boiled eggs can be stored refrigerated for one week
- ^ "About Eggs". http://melindalee.com/hardboileggs.html. Retrieved 2006-12-19. - suggests boiled eggs can be stored refrigerated 2-3 weeks
- ^ Alexis Madrigal, "Why Eggs Could Be Getting Harder to Peel", Wired, 2009-10-16. Accessed 2009-10-18.
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- Basic Hard-Cooked Eggs, American Egg Board
- Boiling an Egg - Science Background
- Boiling of eggs for molecular gastronomers
- wiki articles on how to boil an egg, poach an egg, and soft boil an egg. An overview of all processes for boiling eggs.