Hard-boiled eggs are a perfect food. They’re great for bulk cooking and meal prepping. They keep for days in the fridge, they’re satisfying, hand-held, filling, and you can adjust the cooking time for a yolk that’s gelatinous and runny, firm and velvety, or somewhere in between. However, there is the small issue of reheating your meal-prepped eggs. Novice cooks, and even pros, can reheat too aggressively and ruin their perfect egg texture, or worse, you could have an egg-splosion.
I wish someone had told me how to gently reheat boiled eggs back when my brother and I were microwaving them. It’s a tempting method. Microwaves work fast and they get the job done from the inside-out. The thing with eggs is, they’re basically water balloons — delicate, yet strong. Two things happen in the microwave as it rapidly heats the food inside. The proteins in the cooked egg white squeeze out water as they cook, becoming tighter and tighter, preventing the steam in the centre from escaping. With no outlet for steam to exit, and no warning, your egg will explode, blasting hot egg all over the microwave, or (if you’re 10 year-old me) all over your vulnerable skin and the kitchen when you cut into it at exactly the wrong moment.
The other thing that happens in the microwave is that the egg continues cooking, rapidly. Thirty seconds in the microwave might not seem like a long time, but it’s enough time to turn your perfect jammy yolk into dust, and the tender white into a rubbery shell.
Luckily, there’s a better way to reheat your boiled egg. It’s simple and hands-off. Put the whole egg in a glass of hot water for five to ten minutes. This works with any type of boiled egg, but it’s especially helpful for delicate soft-boiled eggs, and you can reheat one or a dozen at a time. Although I technically steam my eggs, I still call them “boiled eggs,” and this reheating method works like a charm.
Pour hot-to-touch water into a ceramic mug, bowl, or measuring cup. I use the hottest possible water I get from my sink tap, which feels very hot on my hands but not painful. The “painful” temperature varies according to the internet, but it seems to range between 104°F and 120°F. I don’t suggest boiling water, that’s hotter than the recommended 144°F cooking temperature for eggs, and could further cook your egg whites. Leave an inch or so at the top of the bowl for displacement, so you don’t overflow later. Add the fridge-cold boiled eggs to the hot water. After five to 10 minutes, depending on how many eggs you have in the water, the heat will penetrate through the layers of the egg to the centre, gently warming it up. Shell-on or peeled is fine, but the shell adds an extra layer, so give it a little extra time.
This method results in a warm, jammy egg without rubbery whites or overcooked yolks, and no egg — ahem, EXplosions. Pop a couple eggs into hot water, do your morning routine, and enjoy your eggs perfectly warm with gooey yolks, ready for toast.
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