5 Steps to Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Just in time for Easter eggs, I've got 5 easy steps to help you cook perfect hard-boiled farm-fresh eggs. I love deviled eggs, pickled eggs, and egg salad, but stopped making them since I began getting fresh eggs from friends' hens. If you've ever tried peeling a fresh egg, you likely struggled as I did… a frustrating, tedious task to to pick the shells off without pulling off pieces of the egg white. I swore never to try again! Even my friend Deborah, who supplies me with her hens' eggs (with shell colors ranging from light minty green to dark chocolately brown) had resorted to letting some of her eggs "age" when she wanted to hardboil them.

Technically, store-bought eggs have sat around long enough (an unpleasant thought) so the eggshells' coating wears off (or is removed by commercial cleaning), the egg becomes porous, and air is allowed to penetrate. This makes the inner membrane stick to the shell less and also makes the egg white shrink. More air space develops in the egg… resulting in easier-to-peel eggs. But who wants to use old eggs when you have access to super fresh eggs?

I accidentally came across a blog post on perfect boiled eggs last week, and I developed these steps from the comments to the post, where readers offered their own tips. I wanted to bring green deviled eggs* to a St. Patrick's Day potluck, and I didn't want to hassle with peeling the fresh eggs I had in the fridge. So I broke down and bought a dozen large white eggs at the supermarket. The expiration date was 3 days away, and retailers have 30 days to sell eggs, so they had been aging! I tested my new 5-step method, adding one farm-fresh egg to the batch - a lovely dark brown maran egg from my friend Deborah. The results were wonderful... the shells slipped off easily, the whites were not tough, and the yolks were pure yellow. The next time I tried using only one-day old eggs, and the results were still perfect! I'll no longer hesitate to make hard-boiled eggs.

Here are my five steps to perfect Hard Boiled Eggs:
  1. Poke a tiny hole through the large end of the shell with a sharp thumbtack (some people say this isn't necessary, but I tried one without the hole and it didn't peel as well)
  2. Put cold eggs in a steamer rack in a saucepan, cover and boil 15 minutes, starting the timer when the water starts to boil (NOTE: be sure you have enough water under the steamer rack so it won't boil away; elevate the rack in the pan if needed) If you don't have a steamer, submerge a small colander in the pot, making sure the eggs are above water
  3. Remove the steamer basket and rinse the eggs under cold water, then immediately put them into an icy cold water bath and let them stay there for 10 minutes
  4. Shake each egg in a 1/2 pint mason jar to crack the shell
  5. The shell slips right off!

* For green deviled eggs, Google "Avocado Deviled Eggs" or "Guacamole Deviled Eggs" and you'll find recipes - basically the yolks are mixed with your favorite guacamole recipe. I used a recipe that got the onion flavor from chives (sticking with the green theme ) and mixed my green filling in a food processor until smooth, so I could pipe the green filling into the egg whites. They are delicious, eye-catching, and cute too!

My hard-boiled eggs cooked with tender whites and clear yellow centers, perfect for these St. Patty's Day Green Deviled Eggs.