Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to boil an egg

In relation to a holiday trip last week, I slept over at a friend's place. I'll not name this friend due to what happened next. You see, at some we found ourselves hungry, with nothing in the apartment but eggs. This is normally not a problem for me, as I consume 2-3 eggs on a daily basis. I challenge you to find a more delicious and versatile product. A meal on it's own, as well as the ingredient for some of the best dishes and cakes. Can be used for dinner, can be used for desserts. Definitely more on the broader use of the egg later. But this evening, we simply had nothing else than eggs to eat.

And that's when I found out... my friend didn't know how to boil an egg.

This is not really surprising. Some people don't eat eggs like this, for them they're just ingredients. Some probably just doesn't do it often enough to have a decent routine. And others may own devices that ehm.. boil eggs in other ways. 

I'll walk you through the process of how I cook eggs, with some extremely inaccurate science. Read on, and post comments!
First of all you need eggs.  

I buy my eggs from a local farmer. He has both white and brown, but for some reason I usually get the brown ones. I asked him once what color he preferred. He said they taste the same, but the brown ones taste the best. I'm not sure what he meant, but I think I agree. 
And these eggs are not only better than the ones from the grocery store, they are usually bigger, fresher - and for some weird reason - cheaper as well.  

For scientific reasons, I will boil three eggs of different weight. I'll boil them for the same duration, simply to show what difference it can make. I know most people have a preference when it comes to boiled eggs. 

As you can see, the size of the eggs vary a bit. If you buy your eggs from the grocery store, you're most likely getting eggs of more even size. 

Here are the eggs compared to the size of Optimus Prime. The eggs are about to undergo their transformation, and Optimus Prime will remain a fantastic toy. Even if he looks a bit outdated, specially compared to his live-action movie counterpart, he still has tons of play value. 

Here are the eggs compared to the size of Storm Shadow. He weighs less than 20 grams, and is not edible. Well, in the comics, he got eaten a bit by sharks, so I guess that's up for debate. This is the place to talk a bit about the nutrition in an egg. Everyone knows that it's filled with proteins, and proteins helps build up the muscles. What you may not be aware of is that by cooking the egg, you gradually damages the protein. This is why Rocky ate raw eggs (and because it made him look like a bad ass). Of course a cooked egg still has proteins, and it definitely tastes better when the white has hardened. 
If you cook it too much, the yolk (yellow part) will turn green.  The egg contains small amounts of sulfur and iron, and I guess the green color is some sort of oxide. Storm Shadow will turn slightly yellow if he's left out in the sun. This example is pretty white, but sun damage is a feared and powerful enemy of vintage toys.  

Air bubble 
Now, I won't go too much into the anatomy of the egg, but I can give some information that is relevant to the process. In the big end of the egg, there is an air bubble. This air bubble can make the egg crack when you boil it, and we should use a small needle to stick a hole. Fresher eggs have a smaller air bubble, and it will in fact increase in size over time. If your egg is floating, it's probably a bit too old to eat. 

Personally, I use this gadget to make the hole, but a tack will do as well.  

How much water? 
Know that you don't have to submerge your egg entirely. In fact, just an inch of water is enough, as long as you use a lid. It doesn't affect the boiling time of the egg, but it does mean less water for you to heat. I put my eggs in the pot a bit before the water is boiling. 

Boiling time 
It's hard for me to say how long your eggs should boil, as there are a few factors to consider. Shell thickness and size of air bubble are such factors, and both are related to how fresh the egg is. The fresher the egg, the longer it takes. I assume the race of the hen can be a factor as well. Either way, you should learn how your preferred eggs work, by trial and error. 
The middle sized egg is the normal for the eggs I buy, and I know I have to boil it for 7.5-8 minutes to get it perfect. That is with the white part completely coagulated and the yolk slightly soggy. I know many people like the egg hard boiled, and for my eggs to become hard, I'd let them boil additional 2 minutes. More than that would be not be necessary.
When the eggs are done, you can cool them off in cold water. They will continue to coagulate if you don't do this, but it's hard to be exact about this, so I prefer to cool them enough so I can just barely hold them. 

These eggs were boilded for 7.5 minutes, with an additional 30 seconds before they were cooled to my preferred temperature. The size of the egg is not that important for how the results are, but there are definitely some differences. The biggest egg has a bit more fluid yolk, the middle egg is slightly soggy (just as I like it), while the smallest egg is almost hard boiled.   

Eat your egg
There are different ways  for opening the egg, I like to slice it with a knife, just like a ninja. It's a bit messy, but fun. 
As for eating the egg, I can recommend with salt, with pepper, on bread with herring, ham, shrimps, mayo, or my favorite: with a good lump of butter. 


Enjoy your boiled eggs people!

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