Today’s post is a little bit longer than normal, because I’m going to talk about three things – buying, storing, as well as how to boil an egg. If you just want to know about the boiling part, skip ahead.
Eggs are a staple food all over the world. Apparently, the average American eats about 250 eggs per person, per year, and the average hen lays about 250 eggs per year. So somewhere out there, there is one hen whose sole purpose is to provide you with your eggs. Fortunately, the grocery store acts as the middle man.
When buying eggs you get to choose which size and color you want. Size matters, color doesn’t. White, brown, or South American light blue and green eggs are all the same on the inside. Official sizes are Peewee, Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Jumbo. It is rare to see Peewee and Small eggs in grocery stores here in the USA.
Sometimes when you open a box of eggs one or two seem smaller than the rest. The cartons of eggs are actually sold by the total weight of the carton, not each individual egg. Most recipes nowadays use large eggs as the standard size.
Before putting a carton of eggs in your grocery cart, open the carton and make sure there are no cracked eggs. Move each egg slightly to make sure none are stuck to the carton. If any are stuck, choose a different carton.
Always buy eggs before the sell-by date on the carton. If stored properly in the refrigerator they should keep 3-5 weeks from the time you bring them home from the grocery store.
Here’s what to look for when you crack open an egg: If the sticky stuff surrounding the yellow yolk in the center, (known as “the white”), is somewhat cloudy, that means it’s a very fresh egg. A clear white means the egg is ageing, but still fine to use. If the white is pink or “iridescent” then the egg has probably gone off and should be thrown out.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, by the time you get home from the grocery store, you end up with a cracked egg. It may have been cracked from the very beginning, and you just didn’t notice when you were checking them in the first place.
For whatever reason, just throw the cracked egg away. There is no point eating an egg that may have an unwelcome history of germs!
The only time it really is OK to eat a cracked egg is if it cracked while you were cooking the egg. That should present no problem.
Although virtually all refrigerators in the USA have egg-holders on the door, that’s not really the best place to store eggs. There is too much temperature fluctuation on the door shelves. Consequently, the best place to store eggs is in the original carton that you bought them in.
Buying and storing eggs is different through-out the world. My post “Born in the USA” explains why.
(Briefly “In the USA, government standards say all eggs must be washed and stored at temperatures no higher than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Washing the eggs is a good thing but it does leave the eggs without an outer coating and very susceptible to invasion by bacteria. Hence refrigeration of washed eggs is absolutely necessary.” Unwashed eggs do not need to be refrigerated)
Can Eggs be Frozen?
You can freeze eggs BUT it can be a bit more complicated than just popping them in an ice-cube tray. PLUS both the taste and texture will be compromised.
Also the USDA has a great general information page on eggs.
Very few cooks (or cookbooks) agree on how to cook an egg. In fact, the BBC News announced a foolproof way to cook eggs. A temperature-sensitive ink stamped on an egg lets you know if the egg is cooked by changing color as you cook the egg!
I don’t know why everyone uses the term soft boiled or hard boiled eggs. One should never ever boil an egg. In fact, you know when a “cooked” egg is overcooked by that green ring that you sometimes see around the yolk. It is perfectly fine to eat, but it doesn’t look great.
When hard cooking eggs it is best to use eggs that are at least one week old. You will find that they are much easier to peel.
OK, here we go!
Place the eggs tightly in a single layer in a saucepan. (One egg or 10 eggs will all take the same time to cook, as long as they are in a single layer.) Add one Tablespoon of salt to the water. (This will prevent the eggs from cracking.)
Then cover the eggs with water.
Place it on your stovetop on high heat.
Cover the pan.
Bring the water to a boil.
A lot of recipes will ask you to gently place the eggs in boiling water but I don’t like to do it that way. Too often while placing the egg in the water it has slipped, cracked and …well…hello poached egg!
After the water comes to a boil, immediately shut off the stove and let the pot of eggs just sit on the stove, covered, for 15 minutes for large eggs. Some people say to remove the pan from the stove top to avoid over cooking. All pans hold heat differently. Once you make the perfect hard cooked egg, try to use the same pan and timing to make all future hard cooked eggs.
After 3-5 minutes you will have a soft cooked egg.
A hard cooked extra large egg should sit for 18 minutes.
Drain the hot water from the saucepan and let cold water run over the eggs.
It’s best to peel the eggs right before you use them.
I know two ways to make the peeling easier. One is to crack the shell at the ends of each egg and return them to cold water. This allows the water to seep in.
Or after the eggs have cooled just put them in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cold eggs are much easier to peel.
A hard cooked egg should be put in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking and will keep in the refrigerator, unpeeled, about 1 week.
That’s it for eggs!
More startcooking.com egg posts:
- Cracking and Separating and Egg (video)
- How to Boil an Egg (video)
- How to Fry an Egg (video)
- Scrambled Eggs
- Omelet with Cheese (video)
- Dating an Egg with a Laser
- Egg Origins – Does it Really Matter
- Born in the USA
- Quiche With Ham And Cheese (video)
- Sausage and Egg Casserole (video)
- Pancakes – Chocolate Chip (video)
- French Toast
- 5 Ways to Make a Frittata
- How To Make Deviled Eggs
- Rice Salad Plate
- How To Make Egg Salad
- Vegetable and Chef Salad (video)
- Make Ahead Layered Salad
- Salad Nicoise
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