Foolproof boiled eggs for idiots

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Joined
May 18, 2014
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Silicon Valley, CA
I have found a method that has worked perfectly for me several times. The eggs are done exactly the way I like them and they peel easily and without damage to the egg white. It's a little more trouble than most other methods, but, for me, it's worth it.

It is based on this article:

https://www.seriouseats.com/sous-vide-101-all-about-eggs

The basic outline is this:

  1. Start a sous vide tub set to 165°F
  2. When SV is around 150°F, bring a large pot of water to boiling
  3. Take eggs from the frig, puncture fat end, place in boiling water for 3 minutes
  4. Transfer eggs to the sous vide tub (no vacuum bag needed)
  5. Cook for 45 minutes.
  6. Transfer eggs to an ice bath for at least 3 minutes.

Total time: about 1.5 hours, but almost half of that is waiting.

The whites are firm but no hint of rubbery. The yolks are set but almost creamy.

I may fiddle with the boiling time, cooking time, and cooking temp, but the result as stated is very close to perfect for what I like.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Silicon Valley, CA
I have now done several batches of 2, 4, and 6 eggs using this method. The results are very good. The only thing I would change is a slightly less cooked (more creamy) yolk.

The article said that the point of boiling the eggs first is (a) to make the whites separate from the shells and (b) to start cooking the whites first. Based on that, I figured that increasing the boiling time and decreasing the cook time would cook the white more and the yolks less.

I did a batch of 12 eggs that I boiled for 3:30 (+30 seconds) and cooked for 43:00 (- 2 minutes). The result was surprising. The yolks were exactly as I hoped – fully set but still creamy. But the whites were much softer, almost slightly runny.

This was a larger batch, so it took some time to get the eggs from one place to the next, so that may have affected the times. I’ll run another smaller batch so I can get the times more accurate.

But can anyone tell me why the whites would be less cooked?

Thanks
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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There are actually two parts to the egg white, one tat sets more firmly than the other. The less firm part typically near the yolk, takes more time to firm up to the consistency of the outer white. The outer white will also discolor if overcooked, and can become rubbery. If you take an older egg, and crack it into a sieve, there will be a more liquid part that goes through the sieve, while the firmer part of the egg white remains.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
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I do sous vide regularly but if I had to depend on sous vide for HB eggs, I would never eat HB eggs (or poached eggs either).
 
Joined
May 18, 2014
Messages
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Location
Silicon Valley, CA
There are actually two parts to the egg white, one tat sets more firmly than the other. The less firm part typically near the yolk, takes more time to firm up to the consistency of the outer white. The outer white will also discolor if overcooked, and can become rubbery. If you take an older egg, and crack it into a sieve, there will be a more liquid part that goes through the sieve, while the firmer part of the egg white remains.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

Yes, the article was clear about that. But I don't see how that explains my results.

Trial A: When the eggs were in boiling water for 3 minutes and then in the sous vide at 165° for 45 minutes, the whites were perfectly set and the yolks slightly more set than I would prefer.

Trial B: When they were in the boiling water for 3.5 minutes and then in the sous vide at 163° for 43 minutes, the whites were very soft, almost runny, and the yolks were slightly less set than in Trial A.

I thought the increased boiling time would cook the whites a bit more so I could cook in the sous vide a bit less for the yolks.

???
 
Joined
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Messages
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I do sous vide regularly but if I had to depend on sous vide for HB eggs, I would never eat HB eggs (or poached eggs either).

Well, to each their own. But for me, the sous vide eggs live up to every bit of the promise of the article that they are by far the best I have ever eaten. I am 100% in agreement with this statement at the end of the article:

Too much fuss for some simple eggs, you say? I say you have never tasted perfection.


The article also says that sous-vide eggs made their way around pretty much every fancy restaurant's menu in some form or another between five and ten years ago. It's one of the easiest and best uses of a sous-vide style water circulator—it required no expensive vacuum sealer (the eggs cook directly in their shells), and it allowed chefs to achieve textures with eggs that they had never been able to achieve before.

ymmv
 

IC 2.0

Cook
Joined
Aug 17, 2022
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Honolulu, HI
One problem with sous vide eggs is that it takes some time to fully cook to the desired doneness. Plus you need time for the immersion circulator to get the water temp. correct. You get the most consistent egg texture and cleanest presentation however, and it's nearly foolproof. We used this method a ton in restaurants to produce perfectly poached or soft boiled eggs for various dishes.

As for me, I do the cover, bring to a simmer, and turn off the heat method and it works for me perfectly. Once the heat is off I usually go 10 minutes for hard boiled and 6 minutes for soft boiled which is less that what the guides say. You have to take into account the carryover cooking. I rinse my eggs under cool water only and do not submerge into an ice bath. I've found that this can make it more difficult to peel off the shells later.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Silicon Valley, CA
The sous vide method produces really great results, but it's a hassle. So I tried this method from Serious Eats:


The results are almost as good as the sous vide method, but much, much easier. I have just one question that I hope someone can help me with.

Following the instructions to lower the eggs into boiling water for 30 seconds then simmer for 11 minutes, the whites are perfect, but the yolks are a little more well-done that I would prefer.

Question: How should I vary the 2 times (30 sec & 11 min) to get similar whites, but softer yolks?

Since eggs cook from the outside in, my inclination is to increase the boil time anjd decrease the simmer time. But by how much?

How about 40 seconds and 10 minutes?

Any other ideas or suggestions?

Thanks
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
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Messages
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Massachusetts
I use that method and believe it's the best! I would just redo the 11 minutes. Start with 10 and examine the results. Then decide if you want to go down to 9, 8, etc.

Didn't the Serious Eats article suggest other times for less done eggs?
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Silicon Valley, CA
I use that method and believe it's the best! I would just redo the 11 minutes. Start with 10 and examine the results. Then decide if you want to go down to 9, 8, etc.

Didn't the Serious Eats article suggest other times for less done eggs?
The article itself didn't, but the article it linked to did. It said 11 minutes for hard boiled and 6 for soft boiled. So I think your suggestion of trying 10 first is a good one.

Thanks
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Silicon Valley, CA
I have the serious eats method almost perfected. I have one question. The article says to lower the eggs into boiling water, boil for 30 seconds, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 11 minutes. After several tests with different boil and simmer times, I inserted a cooking probe into the water to see what the water temperature was during the entire process.

I added the eggs when the probe said 212°. It dropped down a few degrees, then returned to 212°. It stayed very close to that for the entire 10-12 minutes, never getting below 210°.

I can't tell any difference between boiling for 30 sec and simmering for 11, and just simmering for 11:30. I put the eggs in when it gets to a boil, then turn the heat down and cook for 11:30. Same result.

What am I missing? Why do they prescribe two times and not just one?
 

dcSaute

Sous Chef
Joined
Apr 24, 2011
Messages
922
what are you missing?
their lack of common sense.

putting an egg into simmering/boiling water to V:X minutes:second cooks it to Y:Z degree.

the major variable is the temperature of the egg when it goes into the water.
fourth order variable: altitude
tenth order variable: atmospheric pressure 'of the moment'

the 30 second til heat turn down is the figment of a food writer. it is irrelevant - as you have discovered.
poke a hole in the big end to prevent a pre-cracked/damaged egg from spewing out the white, and carry on.

find the time it takes to cook the egg to your preference. I use 12 minutes with eggs starting at 40'F
IMG_0997.JPG
 
Joined
May 18, 2014
Messages
74
Location
Silicon Valley, CA
what are you missing?
their lack of common sense.
The article seemed so well written, much better than most, that I had a hard time coming to that conclusion.

the major variable is the temperature of the egg when it goes into the water.
fourth order variable: altitude
tenth order variable: atmospheric pressure 'of the moment'
I take them from the frig, poke the hole in the fat end, and drop them into the water, so they are around 38°-40°. We are close to sea level (less than 100'), so the water gets up to 212°, according to my oven probe.

the 30 second til heat turn down is the figment of a food writer. it is irrelevant - as you have discovered.
Apparently so...

poke a hole in the big end to prevent a pre-cracked/damaged egg from spewing out the white, and carry on. find the time it takes to cook the egg to your preference. I use 12 minutes with eggs starting at 40'F
Ok, good. We like them a bit softer. I just did about 10.5, which seems about right.

Thanks
 

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