Eggsperiment

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SirHoundalot
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Eggsperiment

Postby SirHoundalot » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:17 pm UTC

--- NOTE: this is for the discussion of boiled eggs. There's another egg thread HERE for the non-purists ;)

So this morning I made a couple of boiled eggs and instantly fell out of love with scrambled eggs as a Saturday morning staple. I think that this is mostly due to the fact that one of the two eggs was completely PERFECT - there was a slight solidifcation of the very outermost yolk, which the soldier broke through with ease to release the yolk.

Sadly, this turn of events seemed to be completely by accident. I saw an article stating that the perfect boiled egg is cooked for 4.5 minutes and so decided to try that (I normally cook boiled eggs by adding them to a pan of boiling salted water and cooking them for 7 minutes). Unfortunately, I had forgotten to start the timer, and so estimate that my perfect egg was cooked somewhere between 5 and 6 minutes. Bearing in mind that the first egg to be removed from the pan was a little runny, but it was removed immediately before the perfect egg, I think that the perfect egg cooking window must only be a few seconds (the eggs were of a similar volume, although of course I have no proof of this, what with it being breakfast and not an experiment).

So, I call upon the XKCD community for help me in the quest to reproduce the perfect breakfast boiled egg - please post your cooking techniques!
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Phoenix112358
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Phoenix112358 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:32 pm UTC

A perfectly boiled egg sounds absolutely amazing - I have never been graced with one before. Always hard boiled and the yolks completely solid. ):

It seems to me that your quest for the perfect boiled egg seems will be harder than it seems, since eggs are of all shapes and sizes, and the positioning of the yolk inside the egg can vary. Closer to the outside would cook faster, wouldn't it?

But I will join you in your endeavours, and I will try to boil an egg (never done it before) tomorrow morning and see how it does. :D

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Hyphe
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Hyphe » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:33 pm UTC

The trick to having a perfect boiled egg is to have a very broad definition of 'perfect'. I've always found that eggs vary in size too much for me to get consistent results, especially considering that the egg continues to cook even once it's out of the water.

I boil medium-sized eggs for 5 1/2 minutes and they usually end up ok.

Once, I saw an egg timer that was a egg-shaped lump of transparent plastic. You put it in the water, and as the heat went through it, it changed colour. It had little markings on it for soft and hard-boiled. It was awesome, but I didn't buy it; I have never seen one since. :(

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Amarantha
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Amarantha » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:22 pm UTC

Michel Roux wrote a book called "Eggs" that iirc has good advice on this. I borrowed it from my local library, but was impressed enough that I intend to buy it.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby asad137 » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

Hyphe wrote: especially considering that the egg continues to cook even once it's out of the water.


Perhaps plunging into an ice-water bath after cooking would help on this point. Also, it's supposed to make it easier to get the shell off, I think.

I also wonder whether it would be easier to get more consistent results with an immersion circulator, with which you could put in any water bath temperature and thus cook the egg more slowly.

Asad

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby notallama » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:47 pm UTC

think you might be able to tell when it's ready by backlighting the egg?
i dunno if the opacity or anything changes when you cook it, but it might.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Mathmagic » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:53 pm UTC

notallama wrote:think you might be able to tell when it's ready by backlighting the egg?
i dunno if the opacity or anything changes when you cook it, but it might.

Well, the egg whites become solid white, for one.
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby notallama » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:50 am UTC

right. i was thinking about the yolk. but i guess if it goes that far, you already ruined it. :V

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby theliontakescontrol » Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:37 am UTC

The best way that I've heard to do it is to "flash boil".

Put the eggs into a saucepan of cold cold salt water. Turn it up high, bring it to a boil for about 30 seconds, cover the pan, and remove it from heat. Let it sit for 17 minutes, and put the eggs into ice cold water for two minutes. The cold water keeps the dark ring from forming around the egg... If you like it hard boiled, repeat the original process, but only let it boil for 30 seconds or so.

God speed. I'm more of an over-medium girl.
(I've worked in so many different restaurants that I've accidentally turned into an egg chef.... I just need somebody to make breakfast for now...)

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theliontakescontrol
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby theliontakescontrol » Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:38 am UTC

OH, and they always cook the best when they are at room temperature. Good luck, friend :)

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semicharmed
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby semicharmed » Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:33 pm UTC

I think this might be what you want, recipes (with pictures!) of the degree of cooked-ness versus time.
We used to eat these all the time as a kid, as I never like hardboiled yolks when I was little. And soft yolks were perfect for dipping toast.

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Axman
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Axman » Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

You CANNOT salt the water for boiling eggs!

It changes the mass of the water and the yoke won't stay suspended in the center of the albumin. Also, they're called three minute eggs for a reason. That, of course, is for extra-large eggs, you would want to cook them longer for large or regular eggs. And that's at sea level.

theliontakescontrol wrote:OH, and they always cook the best when they are at room temperature. Good luck, friend :)
Absolutely. Let them rest in a bowl of hot water before you use them if you don't have time to let them rest.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby asad137 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:47 am UTC

Axman wrote:It changes the mass of the water and the yoke won't stay suspended in the center of the albumin.


I'm finding it difficult to picture how changing the density on the outside of the shell has any effect on where the yolk sits in relation to the white on the inside of the shell. Could you expand on this please?

That, of course, is for extra-large eggs, you would want to cook them longer for large or regular eggs.


I'm going to assume you meant "cook them less" -- since usually smaller things require less time to cook to the same done-ness level ;)

Asad

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hermaj
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby hermaj » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:20 am UTC

Also, it's easy enough to centre the yolks by stirring the eggs in one direction as the water heats up.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Matsi » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:45 am UTC

I think the only effect that adding salt to the water has is to raise the boiling point, which means your eggs will be done faster than when using unsalted water.

Whenever I cook eggs, I place them gently in a pan with cold, unsalted water, making sure all the eggs are completely under water. Then bring the water to a boil on a high fire, and as soon as it starts to boil I set a timer for 3.5 minutes and turn down the gas so there's just enough heat added to the pan to keep the water boiling. After 3.5 minutes, I rush the pan from the fire to the cold tap and proceed to rinse for about a minute, then let the eggs sit in the cold water for another minute. Nine times out of ten, I end up with a (near)perfect egg. This is for eggs class "L" (at least that's what they're classified as in The Netherlands, L stands for Large so I assume it's an international thing).

edit: This only seems to work for me when i use my smallest pan with a diameter of about 15 cm, and I never cook more than 3 eggs at the same time in it. Bigger pans need more water so the time it takes to bring it to a boil is longer, and i can never figure quite exactly how long to boil the eggs in that case.

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Axman
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Axman » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:36 am UTC

Because you place the eggs in the water before they boil, the salt at the bottom is more dense than the water at the top while the salt moves through the water.

But that's for hard-boiled eggs, not soft, so go about your regular business.

asad137 wrote:I'm going to assume you meant "cook them less" -- since usually smaller things require less time to cook to the same done-ness level ;)


No, because "large" in this case refers to the size of the yolk not the size of the egg. An "extra large" egg will have less egg white than egg yolk and require less time to cook just the white.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby asad137 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:06 pm UTC

Axman wrote:Because you place the eggs in the water before they boil, the salt at the bottom is more dense than the water at the top while the salt moves through the water.


That still doesn't really answer my question...what's the physics that makes the density on the outside of the shell affect where the yolk sits in relation to the white? After all, you're not changing the density of the local environment around the yolk (i.e. the albumen).

And, even if the density gradient on the outside did have some effect, couldn't you just...stir the water?

No, because "large" in this case refers to the size of the yolk not the size of the egg. An "extra large" egg will have less egg white than egg yolk and require less time to cook just the white.


Ah, I never knew that! Thanks.

Asad

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby hermaj » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:40 pm UTC

Matsi wrote:I think the only effect that adding salt to the water has is to raise the boiling point, which means your eggs will be done faster than when using unsalted water.


Salt raises the boiling point by so little that in practical terms it has less effect on boiling point than altitude or humidity would, especially considering that you're not going to be adding massive amounts of salt to your water. Salt is primarily added to boiling water as a matter of taste, and in the case of eggs, to make them easier to shell.

I start off with the eggs in cold, salted water and heat the water up with the eggs, and I leave them boiling for about 8 minutes, give or take. To centre the yolks, I keep the eggs in constant motion in one direction around the saucepan as the water heats up. They usually turn out hard-boiled, but the centre of the yolk is still golden in colour, so for the OP's soft boiled egg, I'd suggest leaving them boil for 5-6 minutes. There's no one perfect time that's always going to work, though, so it's a matter of trying enough times to be able to make an educated guess.

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Axman
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Axman » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:25 pm UTC

asad137 wrote:After all, you're not changing the density of the local environment around the yolk (i.e. the albumen).
I don't know why, but I just tried it and it happened again. I should do it one more time and take photos, but last time I made lunch.

And, even if the density gradient on the outside did have some effect, couldn't you just...stir the water?
HERESY!

hermaj wrote:Salt raises the boiling point by so little that in practical terms it has less effect on boiling point than altitude or humidity would,
In Denver, water boils at a little over 200F, so ever bit helps. Except for the no-stir hard-boiled egg method.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Jorpho » Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:23 am UTC

(Nah, no need for a new thread.)

As part of a bid to start eating more, I have begun consuming one or two hard-boiled eggs at breakfast. Soft-boiling eggs is too complicated for me; I just put 'em in the water and boil the heck out of them until I feel like taking 'em out. I further enjoy the simplicity of not having to wash the pot afterwards, or even of having to use extra dishes at all.

However, I am finding that quite consistently, about seven hours after breakfast I begin to emit copious quantities of the most foul and noxious gas! It is all the more confusing since I eat scrambled eggs fairly frequently and never have this problem on those occasions. Do these two different methods of preparation really result in such disparate chemical changes within the eggs? Maybe there's something else I can eat alongside the hard-boiled eggs to mitigate this unpleasant side effect? (Perhaps I'll try poaching egg whites instead.)

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Rinsaikeru » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:02 pm UTC

I usually add white vinegar in small quantities to my egg boiling water to keep any of them from exploding. I boil from cold with the eggs in the pot, turn off and cover once it comes to a rolling boil. 10 minutes covered then shock in cold water.

Alternatively I shock them in cold water and mold them with one of these: http://www.cookingcute.com/using_egg_molds.htm
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby lardy » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:00 am UTC

I'm quite lucky, I can't stand soft or medium boiled eggs, but hard boiled (we're talking rubber bullet here) eggs are one of my favourite things.

Mashed up on a piece of toast with loads of black pepper. Yum yum yum.

I just leave them boiling away in the pan forever. Easy!

Also, someone mentioned the plastic changing colour thing. My boyfriend has one, he's a soft-boiled man. It works really well.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Ended » Sat May 02, 2009 3:33 pm UTC

lardy wrote:Also, someone mentioned the plastic changing colour thing.

I bought one of these after seeing this thread and I have to say, it works very well. I've only made hard-boiled eggs with it so far, but they've been pretty perfect - solidified white and solidified-but-ever-so-creamy yolk.

Also, I think the added SCIENCE! makes the eggs taste better.
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby mobikwa » Mon May 04, 2009 2:07 pm UTC

I read an article before on Lifehacker about cooking eggs correctly.
http://lifehacker.com/5200434/cook-the- ... of-science

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby nightlina » Wed May 06, 2009 3:03 am UTC

I like my eggs pretty much hard boiled (gloopy runny yokes are just too... gloopy :P) But I have a bit of a tendency to explode the eggs... I think I'll have to try Rinsaikeru's vinegar method :)

I recently got given this microwave egg thing - you put prick the egg with a pin and then put it in the case and pop it in the microwave - and was kind of successful with it. It was good at doing soft-boiled eggs.. but as I don't like soft boiled eggs, I gave them all to my dad. I tried to use it to make a hard boiled egg and successfully exploded the egg inside the microwave-safe case........... THAT was a fun mess to clean up :P So it's back to scrambled eggs for me :P
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Gojoe » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:59 pm UTC

*page bump*
I just found this little gem. It provides proof and reasoning for the amount of time you give an egg for both hard and soft boiled eggs.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/10/the- ... -eggs.html

It starts my disproving a few myths. Then explains the science behind cooking an egg. Then shows photographic proof behind his way of cooking.
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Nath
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:24 am UTC

The trickiest part of boiling eggs is the peeling. I can cook eggs to the right level of doneness, but can't for the life of me get the darn things open without making them look like the surface of the moon. And no, I'm not using particularly fresh eggs.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Jorpho » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:44 am UTC

Nath wrote:The trickiest part of boiling eggs is the peeling. I can cook eggs to the right level of doneness, but can't for the life of me get the darn things open without making them look like the surface of the moon. And no, I'm not using particularly fresh eggs.
Then you already know the problem.

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Rinsaikeru » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:46 am UTC

Well, actually, general kitchen mythology states that fresh eggs are the hardest to peel--so that doesn't exactly explain it.

I do best at not moon gouging eggs if they are still hot but have been shocked in ice water. I start at the bottom (usually where the air pocket is) and peel under the lining stuff.
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby hermaj » Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:17 am UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:Well, actually, general kitchen mythology states that fresh eggs are the hardest to peel--so that doesn't exactly explain it.


Yup, because the air pocket is larger the older the egg is, and the more air, the easier to peel. I shock my eggs in cold water too, but I think you can also add something to the water as they boil to make the shell more brittle. Perhaps vinegar?

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Gojoe » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:20 am UTC

I am told that salt added to the water helps to peel them. I have no idea if this is true or not.
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Nath
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:04 am UTC

I've tried vinegar, but it didn't seem to make an appreciable difference. Gojoe's link seems to confirm this. It gets a little easier if I cool the egg before peeling, but there's still a reasonable chance of destroying it.

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Amarantha
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Amarantha » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:00 am UTC

Didn't anyone rtfa? I don't have time to re-read it just now, but I'm sure some of that was addressed.

When I have eggs to peel, I crack the shells and leave them in the water for a bit. Water seeps in and seems to help with the peeling. But it's not completely foolproof, and I can't say I've done it often enough to claim causation.


edit - ninja'd by Nath

Nathja'd?

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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby Axman » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:43 am UTC

Ninjaed.

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ssbookyu123
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Re: Eggsperiment

Postby ssbookyu123 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:56 am UTC

I personaly like my eges very runney with sliced avacado salt and a peice of un toastd bread to sop it all p but your depiction is enogh to make me want to try my egs alittle firmer. Also did you mean somthing like this? http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=762&f=910


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