The secret to boiling eggs is not to boil them, which will potentially crack the shell and turn the white rubbery. Instead, get them hot enough, take them off the stove immediately and put your faith in the timer.
Other than overshooting the cooking of a soft-boiled egg, the worst thing that can happen is allowing the shell to crack and the contents to spill.
- Lower the eggs into the water with a spoon or ladle to minimize the chances of cracking.
- Use a small pot. The more room you allow eggs, the greater their freedom to roll around and crack against each other or the sides of the pot.
- The eggs need to be only just covered with water, not wallowing inches below the surface.
- Allow only a single layer of eggs in the pot.
Although the FDA recommends cooking eggs until the white and yolk are firm, dipping toast in a soft-boiled yolk is an irresistible pleasure for many. Be aware, though, that the white and yolk start to set at just under 150 degrees Fahrenheit, significantly below the 160 F benchmark for dishes containing egg products.
- Place the eggs snugly in a pan of cold water and bring to a quick, rolling boil.
- Put the cover on and remove the pan from the heat immediately.
- Start your timer.
- After 3 minutes, you will have a runny yolk and white that is set but still gelatinous.
- An additional 2 minutes and the yolk will still be runny, but the white firmer.
- Drain off the water immediately and run the eggs under cold, running water to stop any carry-over cooking.
Where a firm yolk is the desired result, the eggs can be started in cold water and brought to a simmer. Use just enough water to cover the eggs by about half an inch.
After simmering for 6 minutes, the yolk will be hard but still slightly gluey in the center. For an entirely firm yolk, extend the cooking time by a minute.
Alternatively, cook in the same way as soft-boiled eggs by removing the pan from the heat once the water reaches a boil. Bear in mind, though, that egg size is a factor. Medium-size eggs will be hard-boiled in around 9 minutes, whereas a full 15 minutes is required for extra-large eggs.
Drain the water and rinse the eggs under water for a minute. The cold water will stop the eggs overcooking, which can add a gray-greenish tint to the yolk.
Running eggs under cold water also makes them easier to peel. Fresher eggs have less air underneath the shell, and are therefore more time-consuming to peel. Older eggs are best for boiling.
Store eggs in the refrigerator, but cook them from room temperature. If you put a cold egg in boiling water, it will most likely crack.
For eggs that are less than 4 days old, making them very fresh, add half a minute onto the cooking time.