Saturday, December 15, 2012

Soft boiled eggs - genius from Americas test Kitchen

It has always been a crapshoot cooking eggs in their shells - to a soft cooked stage. Getting the whites nice and firm and leaving the yolks runny. Coming from England, "boiled eggs" are a staple with toast strips dipped into the runny yolks ("soldiers"). Why is it so hard? Because there are no cues. The egg is cooking away with no externally visible signs. There is magic and mystery, but it is only at that moment of disappointent when one takes the top off that you realize that it is messed up again.
The clever people at America's Test Kitchen have done a lot of testing and seem to have come up with a foolproof way. I followed it and have achieved boiled egg perfection.


Large eggs in their shells at refrigerator temperature (see further notes)
Water to cover the bottom of a saucepan to a depth of about 1/2"


Place water in bottom of a lidded saucepan. Bring water to a boil. Place the eggs in the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on the pan. Turn heat to low. Set timer for 6 1/2 minutes. When timer goes off, eggs are cooked. This is essentially steaming the eggs, not boiling them.

Further Notes.

Cooking the eggs this way fixed my "how do you peel soft cooked eggs?" problem. These peel really easily.
Does 6 1/2 minutes sound too long? I thought so at first, but actually the elapsed time is about the same (and maybe a bit shorter) than the elapsed time using a pot full of water.
I had been bothered for a while about the whole physics of egg in the shell cooking. It was obvious to me that the initial temperature of the eggs, the amount of water, the number of eggs, the rate at which the burners are capable of delivering heat, whether to put the eggs in cold and bring them up gradually, whether to dump the eggs into already simmering water all are going to affect the outcome. That's too many variables. This way, the only variables are the size of the eggs, the initial temperature of the eggs and whether they will fit in the pot in a single layer. Piece of cake, really!
I haven't timed these for different sized/different temperature eggs.
Control parameters for my house.
  • Fridge temperature 36.5F
  • Egg weight ~ 2oz (56-58 gm) in the shell
  • Pot sizes (2qt and 4qt) - results identical


Anonymous said...

Add a steamer, like for veggies, so the eggs are not in the water, and they will never crack. I find six minutes is perfect

Anonymous said...

I am at 3000 ft and have to cook them 6 min 45 seconds. This is an amazing, and wonderful way to do soft boiled eggs. I have never gotten them right before this method. Thank you ATK.
I also use the steamer, but don't really find it necessary. Just easier to drop in cold water with it.

musicman said...

Just made some. Perfection!!!