There are few things in the kitchen that are more irritating than trying to peel eggs so they’re like they ought to be… especially for deviling. You can google and find all sorts of “tried and true” methods… folks who swear by this method or that one. And you may have your own too. This is something I’m often asked, and although my method doesn’t work 100% of the time, it has worked better than any other I’ve tried… and I think I may have tried them all.
Years ago, when I owned Personal Chefs Network, we did some fun online classes since our members were scattered all over the place… and pre-facebook too. We would sign up to teach a particular thing, then gather online in some sort of format I don’t even remember now. One of our members, Rivka, delved into eggs… (I can’t believe I remember that long ago, but can’t remember what I walk from my chair to the kitchen to do). I retained what she taught us in that class and have used that knowledge over the years. The book we worked our way through is The New Making of a Cook by Madeleine Kamman. It was published in 1997 and is a great reference book and you can probably get from your local library or order online now for really cheap. For those who like to know a little chemistry behind cooking methods… it’s a great one to have.
So my method may cause your jaw to drop… because, like me, you were probably taught you must start out with room temp tap water. Not warm, and surely not hot. Well I’m about to throw that nonsense out of the window!
A little preface…
Older eggs will peel better every time. I get my eggs from a farmer down the road…. very fresh. Unlike those in the grocery store… that were likely harvested weeks ago. I get several dozen at the time and rotate, so I’ve usually got a dozen or so tucked in the back of the fridge for boiled or deviled eggs. But you don’t have to do that… just noting this.
The reason older eggs peel better is this. Inside the shell is a membrane. As the egg ages, air from the inside escapes through shell pores, causing this protein membrane to part ways with the shell. So when cooked, it’s not as “tightly” attached… thus easier to shell.
So on to my method…
I bring a pot of water, just big enough to hold the eggs, to a boil. Yep, that’s what I said… BOILING water! Using a slotted spoon, I gently lower eggs into this boiling water! Let them boil (see times below), then remove from heat.
Pour off hot water and immediately add cold tap water. Even adding ice is a good thing. The purpose of this is to immediately stop the cooking process (like when blanching vegetables). Because over-cooking is not good.
I also find that cracking the shells a bit while sitting in cool water helps with peeling.
Once cooled to touch… gently tap to get cracks in shell. Peel!
I suggest starting at the big end of the egg. That’s where the membrane air pocket is biggest and generally helps in breaking that to peel the egg. I peel under slow running cool tap water as well. This helps loosen the shell as you go along.
Note: Overcooking will give you tough rubbery eggs, and will also put the yolk off-center AND give you that greenish/grayish edge to your golden yolk. There’s nothing wrong with that (too much chemistry to get into here)… and it comes from overcooking.
This isn’t a failproof method and doesn’t always work perfectly, but tends to work the best and most consistently for me.
OR… to get the same results as above, you can steam them. Put eggs into steamer basket and sit that into a pan with about 1″ of boiling water. Cover and steam.