Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tips from the archives: Boiling an egg

"Have ready a saucepan of boiling water; put the eggs into it gently with a spoon, letting the spoon touch the bottom of the saucepan before it is withdrawn, that the egg may not fall, and consequently crack. For those who like eggs lightly boiled, 3 minutes will be found sufficient; 3 3/4 to 4 minutes will be ample time to set the white nicely; and, if liked hard, 6 to 7 minutes will not be found too long."

Mrs Beeton's Household Management by
Isabella Beeton. First published 1861

Everyone knows how to boil an egg, right?


Apparently, not.

I'd always assumed there was just one way to boil an egg, and that was my way.  But watching my husband boil eggs this morning, I realised he uses a completely different method.

So I consulted the oracle of domesticity, Mrs Beeton, and it seems she sides with him.  While I had been labouring under the misapprehension that eggs were placed into cold water and then brought to the boil before starting the timer, Mrs Beeton and my husband put the eggs into water that is already boiling.

What do you think? Start from cold, or drop into boiling?

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Brenda said...

So glad you are back! Missed ya! Boiling the perfect egg is still a big mystery to me. Everyone does it differently. And I have yet to find the perfect method. There are some good you tube videos about it I think. I remember hearing some fool-proof way to have them come out perfect. If I find it I will come back and share it.

Mary said...

ok this is very spooky.

In an effort to gently reintroduce the idea that I will try to quit sugar I have been boiling eggs for breakfast the past two mornings. The first time I did it Mrs Beeton's way, yesterday I did it your way - I think I have always known there are two ways to boil an egg.

I think your way produces nicer boiled eggs!

Stomper Girl said...

Fixit larned me to do it your way - I have many cooking skills but was unsure whether the egg had to start cold and warm up gently or could be plunged straight into boiling water. Seems to work well, except you then need to make sure you don't miss the point that the water starts to boil so you can start your timer... I always get bored and wander off, you see. So maybe Mrs. Beeton's method might be the one for me.

Gigi Ann said...

Welcome Back!

I always put my eggs in cold water and bring it to a boil slowly. Boil for about 10 minutes and than into ice water and peel.

Simon said...

Either way can work but your way is exposed to variation in time and result because it will be linked to the rate at which the water is heated (and passes on heat to the egg) and therefore varies with how much water you have and how much heat is put out by your stove. If you always use the same pot and hot plate no problem you can figure it out. Starting with boiling water means the time for cooking remains pretty constant because the water is pretty close to 100deg's (and the rate of heating the egg variies only slightly depending by the size of the egg). You wouldn't cook pasta in cold water (i hope) - same reasoniong applies. You should have paid more attention in high school chemistry!