If you have chickens, or even just access to fresh eggs, no doubt you have started to look for different ways to use them all up. One favorite in our house is making deviled eggs, which means hard-boiling the eggs first. Should be pretty simple, right?
The first time I attempted hard boiling fresh eggs, I kept ending up with soft boiled eggs – runny yolks or only partially cooked whites! What was I doing wrong? I had boiled eggs many times before!
The difference? Fresh eggs from home-raised chickens. The eggs you get from the grocery store are very different from those you get from your backyard chicken. Why? Commercially raised chickens are given a generic, corn-based feed, and do not have access to green plants, bugs, and all the little seeds and tidbits they find when allowed to be outside. Our eggs had very thick shells (sometimes shockingly so, you have to smack the eggs so hard to crack them!), with really strong, stretchy egg whites. Commercial eggs have flimsy shells and the egg whites are runny – crack one on your counter or in a flat pan, and watch it run in every direction; a fresh egg from a healthy chicken will crack and the white stays either completely around the yolk, or only runs a little.
Chickens raised in the backyard or on the homestead have a much wider diet – ours have an outdoor pen where they can forage, and we supplement them with veggie scraps, garden weeds, bruised or bug-filled garden produce, and sprouted fodder in the winter. All of this, in addition to a quality feed that we leave available to them 24/7.
So how was I to cook these eggs? No one wants an over cooked egg, especially with hard boiled eggs, with their ugly gray ring around the yolk. This lead to some experimenting, and after much to do, I finally found the right time amount to turn out the perfect, hard boiled, fresh egg.
- Add eggs to the bottom of a sauce pan. Cover with water, about 1″ over the eggs.
- Bring pot to a boil, and allow eggs to boil for (3) minutes.
- Shut the water off, but leave the eggs in the hot water for 1 minute.
- In a small bowl, add ice cubes and cold water. Gently remove eggs from pot, and submerge in the cold water.
I know, 4 minutes in hot water?? It seems like a really long time, doesn’t it? Trust me, I was just as concerned. I slowly added a minute each time, ending with many soft boiled eggs, or partially raw yolks, before finally settling on this timing. After sticking with this, it’s worked every time!
One important trick, that I have found to be completely true – is that older eggs peel better. Store purchased eggs can be boiled right away (I won’t scare you with how old those are on average, but um.. you might want to look it up!), but fresh eggs should be “aged” for about a week before boiling. You can absolutely boil fresher eggs, but the week-old ones peel much easier.
If I am making deviled eggs, typically start peeling the eggs right away, because warm eggs are easier to peel than cold ones. I dry the egg, gently tap it until the shell splits, and then start working it away with my thumb.
If you want to keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge for an easy breakfast or a quick snack, store them in an airtight container in your fridge, and peel when ready to eat. Hard boiled eggs will keep for one week.