boiled egg faq

Do hard boiled eggs float?
No, not of themselves. As an egg matures the gas inside the egg expands. If the gas is not released by poking a hole through the large end of the shell the egg will float – boiled or otherwise. That’s how you can tell how fresh the egg is – very fresh = little or no floating; a couple of weeks old definitely the large end will float upwards; six weeks old the egg will float very freely. Two months old and you might discover how explosive the gas pressure has become. Try to stay away from the gas powered contents of the egg at this point, you’ll be impressed by how penetrating the – um – fragrance can be.

The shells won’t peel off my hard boiled eggs!
Generally it’s better to cook the eggs, and then plunge them into cold water to cool them enough to peel them. I recommend tapping the shell with the back of a spoon to crack the shell into as many little shards as possible. Hold the eggs under cold running water, pinch the shell off the large end off – there will be a gap between the shell and the egg (where the gas was). The water will help separate the shell (still attached to the membrane) from the egg. If the egg is too warm (or it is a little under cooked) it’s very easy to damage the egg as it sticks to the shell membrane and tears. The food value doesn’t change, however.

Are brown eggs better than white eggs?
No – food value-wise it’s just a variation in the packaging. When I was a kid brown eggs were slightly less common and slightly ‘nummier’ i.e. tastier than white eggs. Today, white eggs are seemingly harder to get. I like them brown. I believe you can get green and blue eggs – I’ve never seen them – although duck egg shells are greenish colours.

What is the difference between raw eggs and hard boiled eggs? Can you tell the difference without breaking the shell?
Yes, it’s really easy – impress your friends, pick up girls, etc… take a raw egg and a hard boiled egg, and place them on a hard, flat, smooth surface. Try to spin the eggs on their sides. A raw egg will not spin very well, whereas a hard boiled will spin very happily.

What about quail eggs?
No idea of difference in food values. They’re smaller, cuter, and look rustic in a sophisticated kind of way. Boil as per hen eggs – perhaps for slightly less time (they are smaller). Pay particular attention to getting the hole in, as cracking the shell while boiling would be just erk. Serve unpeeled with a selection of salts, including spiced salt, in elegant mounds. A simple way to make spiced salt is to take a couple of teaspoons of salt and add chinese five-spice powder or garam masala to taste. I think they ate quail eggs in ‘Brideshead Revisited’. If they didn’t they probably would want to…

What about ostrich eggs?
No idea of difference in food values. They’re larger, and shiny white. Boil as per hen eggs – you’ll need a larger pot to boil the egg in and you need to plan in advance. Allow about 50-60 minutes for a soft boiled egg, and 90-100 minutes for hard boiled. If you want the eggs hard boiled, allow another couple of hours for them to cool down to the point where you can handle them. You’ll need quite an appetite too – one ostrich egg is the equivalent to 25-30 hens eggs.

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