It's not that hard to boil an egg, but things can (and often do) go wrong along the way. Kitchen Konfidence offers solutions to two of the biggest challenges about making boiled eggs: timing the water boiling exactly and getting peels off easily (without losing chunks of the egg).
Brandon Matzek's first tip is to poke the flatter end of the egg with a small, sterilised pin. This, he says, make them easier to peel. The Science of Cooking site explains what might be at play here and a few other benefits you might get from the pin prick:
Some people use a pin to make a small hole in the shell at the large end of the egg before they put the egg in the water. At the large end of each egg is a small air space. When you hard cook an egg, this air heats up, expands, and escapes through pores in the shell — but not before the egg white sets. This leaves the egg with a flattened end. Pricking the egg provides a quick escape route for the air, which gives you an egg with a smoothly rounded end. If you prick an egg, watch for a jet of air shooting from the hole as the egg cooks.
Scientists disagree on the other possible benefits of pricking an egg. Some say that piercing the eggshell with a pin lets water leak between the shell and the egg's internal membrane, making for an egg that's easier to peel. Others claim that providing a quick way out for expanding gases makes the egg less likely to crack as it cooks, which may be particularly important for older eggs with larger air sacs. Still others say that poking a hole in the shell weakens it, making cracks more likely.
Brandon's second tip is genius for those of us who sometimes lose track of time when boiling eggs. He uses a probe thermometer that alerts him when the eggs are right about to boil:
Put the saucepan over a medium-high flame, and place the tip of a probe thermometer into the water. Water boils at 212°F, so set your thermometer to sound the alarm at 209°F. I like to give myself a little time get to the kitchen, and prepare for the next step. As soon as the water starts to boil, set a timer for 1 minute. The moment that minute is up, take the saucepan off the heat, cover, and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes. Timing will depend on the type of pan you use. I'd recommend 8 minutes the first time you try this. If the yolks are still a little squishy, try 9 minutes on your next batch.
Using a probe thermometer to boil eggs may seem a bit over-the-top, but it completely eliminates challenges #1 and #3 above. You will never over-cook an egg again.
For hard-boiled egg lovers, that's music to our ears.
For more egg boiling tips and tricks, see the full post on Kitchen Konfidence.
Foolproof Hard-Boiled Eggs [Kitchen Konfidence]