General Question

bccreative's avatar

Why are hardboiled eggs so hard [for me] to peel lately?

Asked by bccreative (215 points ) 3 months ago

Currently I cook hard boiled eggs to my preference which is minimally boiled, ensuring a delicate white and a fluffy yolk free of both green copper patina and unwanted sulfuric smell. But lately that membrane between the shell and the egg has been tough and tenacious. I’ve heard that overly fresh eggs are hard to peel, but I don’t want to “age” my store-bought eggs before cooking. Peeling under trickle of water not working lately. I’ve even overexerted myself blowing cooked egg out of its shell per Tim Ferris’ video. So what can I do to make the peeling easier?

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35 Answers

JimTurner's avatar

I’ve had this trouble numerous times. What I do is first after boiling I let them sit in a little cold water then I tap one gently with a spoon and begin peeling really slow and careful.

Coloma's avatar

It has to do with freshness and how long you cook them.
Fresher eggs have a tougher membrane that does not peel as easily.
I am a former chicken keeper and the easiest way to tell if an egg is fresh is when you break it open the yolk will be firm, and spherically centered in the albumin in a mound. Old eggs yolks go flat, break apart and spread out.

Let the eggs cool thoroughly before peeling under cold water.

Pachy's avatar

Great info, @JimTurner and @Coloma. I love hardboiled eggs but hate making them. I buy them bagged.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I’ve heard a trick is to add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when you cook them.

hearkat's avatar

@Coloma – that test isn’t useful if you want to hard-boil the eggs though. Isn’t there something about how they float that’s supposed to indicate freshness?

My fiancé has been adding baking soda to the water, and he says that seemed to have helped, as well as putting them in an ice water bath after removing them from the heat. We do get our eggs from the farmers, so they’re usually fresh.

bccreative's avatar

@JimTurner I always put them into cold water when I deem them done, otherwise they’re continuing to cook. There’s no magic in tapping with a spoon versus myriad other cracking options. Peeling speed is relative; I’m as patient as the next guy but Ido have other things to tend to besides egg peeling.

@Coloma I guess my local stores turns over their egg inventory quickly because they’re almost always very fresh (evidenced when I crack them open for other purposes). It’s impractical to age my eggs, and I’m frustrated by the tough membrane that’s tenacious, even under running water, even when I’ve torn through the membrane, it’s got a life of its own. The running water was always my ace-in-the-hole and I taught my kids that method. But it’s not working lately. I suspect it wants to be cooked longer but I don’t want to do that.

ccrow's avatar

It most likely is because of how fresh they are… something that might help is to gently crack the shell all over, by rolling the egg on the counter, before you start to peel it. I have chickens so my eggs are very fresh; if I want to do anything with hardboiled eggs I have to plan ahead, or end up losing chunks of the egg while peeling.

bccreative's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 @hearkat I haven’t yet tried the baking soda but I’d have thought it would only soften the shell and not address the leathery membrane.

bccreative's avatar

@ccrow I generally don’t crack it all over because if the membrane is really putting up a fight, then the misery is extended. Better to go for larger pieces if the egg lets me.

JimTurner's avatar

@bccreative I understand what you mean. At times I’ve boiled numerous eggs at the same time and some peeled perfectly and others have gotten under my skin. It would be nice if the entire dozen came out correct.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

For the last few years I also struggled to peel hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs. Last Thanksgiving I discovered something quite by accident. My usual method is to put the eggs in the water, heat to boiling, then turning off the gas and put a lid on. Then, after 15 minutes, put them in cold water for a while. Well, I forgot about them when they were boiling, and boiled them longer (don’t know how much longer) but that batch of eggs peeled much easier.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Do you let the eggs come to room temperature before you boil them or do they go in straight from the fridge?

I get better results when I let mine sit out for about an hour before I boil them.

dxs's avatar

Also, try making a crack in the egg to to open it and then rolling it on a hard surface.

Coloma's avatar

@hearkat Right, that doesn’t help with boiling eggs, just a tip in general. Cooling the eggs in ice water does help but it’s all luck of the egg draw. lol
Fresh eggs sink, old eggs float.

zenvelo's avatar

Shell free peeling:

After they cool in cold water: crack at each end, pull off to make a little hole. Then hold up to your mouth and blow into one end. That will separate the shell from the white. You can then peel the shell off with not damage to the egg white.

Coloma's avatar

@zenvelo A closet egg blower ey? haha

ccrow's avatar

Gosh @dxs I already said that!!;-)

hearkat's avatar

@zenvelo – There was some discussion about that method after NPR linked to a Quora page about common things you’re doing wrong – or similar title. My fiancé tried it and it hasn’t helped consistently.

bccreative's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I suspect that cooking them longer would help but I don’t like the consequence, namely the rubbery white and the dried-out, green yolk.

My method is to put eggs in hot tap water, bring to a boil, then simmer on lowest flame for 15 minutes.

@WestRiverrat That’s a new idea worth trying; thanks!

@dxs Doesn’t matter how I crack it – the membrane clings to both egg and, to lesser degree, to shell.

@zenvelo I referred to that method in my original question. Doesn’t work easily or well if the membrane insistently clings to the egg.

Perhaps I’ll start rapping on the eggs as they’re cooking, to (hopefully) get water in under the shell, before cooking time is finished.

Sounds like my only options are to buy old eggs or [maybe] cook them longer. <sigh>.

dxs's avatar

@ccrow Whoops! My apologies…I read too fast.

glacial's avatar

What I used to do when I had hardboiled eggs regularly is to crack it lightly, enough to get the tip of a spoon in, and then wedge the shell away from the egg with the spoon. It allows for nice, large pieces of shell to come off, and it means I don’t have to handle the egg much. Won’t work if there’s too much curvature to your spoon, though. It has to be vaguely… egg-shaped.

ibstubro's avatar

Right now all the rage is little containers that you crack your eggs into before cooking them.

I can’t tell you much more than that because it’s not a product that interests me, and I’ve mostly seen them second hand, sans graphics. I have no storage, and seldom boil eggs. If you boil eggs regularly, the cooker might be worth looking into?

jaytkay's avatar

I have become an egg boiling master. And it’s really, really easy..

1) Old eggs peel easier
Old eggs have a bigger air bubble on the butt end
Which makes them easier to peel
Which also makes them float higher, so you can test for age before boiling.

2) How to boil eggs
Use a good sized pan, like a 3 quart pan for four eggs (Too big is better than too small)
Place eggs and cold water in the pan
Bring just to a boil and turn off the heat
They’re done, timing is unimportant. When you get around to it, put the eggs in the fridge. Five minutes, two hours, whatever

JLeslie's avatar

I’ve had the same problem in recent years and have asked a Q myself. I only make boiled eggs maybe twice a year, so I don’t even remember all the methods suggested to me. I want to try @jaytkay‘s method, because it sounds like you don’t need to really watch the pot.

As far as eggs floating. In my book, of they float they should be thrown out. I do use that test when eggs have been in my fridge a few weeks. I’ve never had one float, eggs keep for a long time in the fridge. I do think older eggs are better though for hard boiled eggs, that seems to be true in my experience.

jaytkay's avatar

In my book, of they float they should be thrown out

There are degrees of floating. New eggs sink. After that the butt end turns up a bit. Then they stand on tip toe.

And when they float high I throw them out, too.

bccreative's avatar

@jaytkay – I’m eager to try your methods although I eat a lot of eggs so the age issue seems problematic. I’m curious if different cooking methods affect the tenacious membrane issue I’m having.

@ibstubro – those solutions make me crazy but hey, if it works for some… It shouldn’t be a big deal to boil and peel an egg; I’ve done it all my life (yet lately it is).

bccreative's avatar

@glacial thanks for the tool idea! I’m going to do some experimenting…

GoldieAV16's avatar

Ever since I started cooking my hardboiled eggs this way, peeling has been a breeze:

Put eggs (age of eggs doesn’t matter) in cold water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, and cover the eggs for 11 minutes. Plunge the eggs in a large bowl of ice and water.

Voila! They practically peel themselves.

ibstubro's avatar

Sorry, @bccreative, I always look for the easiest path. If I ate a lot of boiled eggs and I was that pent up over peeling them, I’d either do as @Pachy suggests and buy them bagged, just poach them, or I’d get one of those egg cooker things.

Shouldn’t doesn’t equate to doesn’t.

jaytkay's avatar

Hey, I found the site where I learned all the details about boiling eggs. A HUGE amount of info.

It’s a great read, but if you simply want to hard boil eggs, skip down to the bottom where it says, “Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs”.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/10/the-food-lab-science-of-how-to-cook-perfect-boiled-eggs.html

glacial's avatar

@jaytkay Love that link – so much good information about boiling eggs. There is a lot of advice about peeling eggs as well, but it’s all in the comments section. Lots of people out there experimenting!

jaytkay's avatar

@glacial it’s all in the comments section

I didn’t read the comments, thanks for the tip, I am heading there now.

bccreative's avatar

@ibstubro You advice was sensible; didn’t mean to sound dismissive. More of a ‘WTF’ frustration similar to tying your shoes the same way all your life and then suddenly they don’t stay tied anymore. Maybe I’ll revert to poaching; haven’t made eggs that way in a good while!

@jaytkay Heading to that link soon; thanks!

bccreative's avatar

@glacial Your earlier tool idea inspired me to do a jiu jitsu kinda move on cooked eggs today: Because the membrane under the shell is so leathery, I used it to my advantage. First cracked the egg along the equator, then pulled the egg apart into two halves. A teaspoon was used to eat each half similar to eating a soft-boiled egg. I’ve been eating my avocados that way too, versus slicing them up.

dxs's avatar

You could also try this method.

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