Peeling hard boiled eggs

If you have ever had a frustrating egg peeling experience, you know that there is more to it than boiling and peeling.

Does it really matter what type of egg to choose to hard boil? Is one cooking method better than another to help the shell peel off? Ask a friend, search the web, or reference a cookbook and you will find many opinions about the type of egg to use and favorite cooking methods. If you have ever had a frustrating egg peeling experience, you know that there is more to it than boiling and peeling.

To prepare hard boiled or hard cooked eggs Michigan State University Extension recommends consumers select, cook and cool eggs incorporating proper food handling and storage practices to create hard boiled eggs that not only look tasty, but are safe to eat.

First, always wash your hands before preparing food. Select eggs that have been refrigerated and those which are clean and without any visible cracks. Do not wash eggs. Do not pierce the shell as bacteria can enter the egg, and contents of the egg may leak out during cooking.

The age of the egg affects how easily the shell will peel away after cooking. Eggs that are too fresh will have difficult shells to remove without damaging the egg white. It is best to use eggs that are at least 7 to 10 days old, allowing the egg to take in air which helps separate the membrane from shell. Look at the egg carton and read the “Best if used by” date to select eggs with the best flavor and quality.

When making hard boiled eggs the cooking time is important. Eggs that are overcooked produce a harmless gray-green ring around the yolk. Eggs that are undercooked will have runny yolks and could allow salmonella bacteria to cause a foodborne illness. Be sure the egg white and egg yolk are fully cooked and firm. Do not microwave shelled eggs because they will explode. Place eggs in a single layer in bottom of a saucepan, cover eggs with cold water. Heat the saucepan until boiling, and then remove from heat. Extra large eggs cook in 15 minutes, 12 minutes for large eggs, and nine minutes for medium size eggs.

After cooking, carefully pour off hot water then submerge the eggs in cold water, optionally ice can be added. Eggs will be easier to peel once they have cooled. Tapping the hard boiled egg on the counter will crack the shell allowing the peel to be removed. After peeling, promptly refrigerate the eggs if not used right away. Hard cooked eggs can be refrigerated for up to one week.

Safe food handling is the final step for all meals. Be sure to observe the two hour rule. If the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, food should only sit out for one hour.

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