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Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs

Q: When I go to peel hard-boiled eggs,  I end up with very small, messy-looking  eggs, with big chunks of the white stuck to the shells. How do I get round this?


Older eggs are easier to peel than new ones.  As eggs age, some of the carbon dioxide contained in the albumen escapes, reducing its acidity.  Research shows that the reduced acidity helps with peeling1.  The trade-off, however, is that in older eggs the yolk tends to move further from being centered.  This happens because the white gets thinner and is less able to hold the yolk in place.  The best compromise is to use eggs that have been stored on their sides in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.  Contrary to what you would expect, keeping them on their side results in a more centered yolk than if they are stored on end.

Boil eggs at just below the simmer for about 12 minutes (see "Boiling Eggs without Cracking the Shells"), then plunge them immediately into cold water.  Once they are cooled, peel the eggs.  I find it works better if they are peeled immediately, rather than being stored in the shell.

To peel them, you first need to crack the shell all over.  An easy way to do this is to put the eggs back into the empty saucepan and rattle them around until the shells are cracked.  Alternately, you can cup the egg gently in you hand and crack the shell by tapping it gently against the inside wall of your "impeccably clean" sink.  As you rap the eggs against the sink, let it roll in you hand so that various spots get hit.  In either case, don't strike the egg too hard.  You want to crack the shell while trying not to damage the white underneath.  Rolling the egg around between your hands helps to get the shell cracked all over.

Then peel the shell away.  There is a thin skin under the shell that you want to have come off, too.  Once you start to peel away the skin, it will take the cracked shell with it.  Again, I find it easier to work under gently flowing water, as it washes away loose pieces of shell and helps to lift the skin as the water runs in under it.

Peeled eggs can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator.  Unpeeled hard-boiled eggs will keep for about a week.

Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking by Shirley O. Corriher.

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© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward


Ya right !!! That worked about as well as trying to herd cats.

Another way to peel eggs to put a small hole in one end of the hard boiled egg. Cup the egg in one hand and then blow into the hole, the shell should come right off. Only use this method for eggs you are going to eat yourself.

In my research for how to peel a hard boiled egg I keep finding the same reference to peeling them soon after cooking.
My problem is that I like to take two eggs to work every day for a quick snack. This means I have to boil them on Sunday but not peel them till later, sometimes up to a week. At this time I sometimes get lucky and sometimes not. So I still need to find out why some eggs peel good and sometimes not.

Thanks to you it really solved and helped immensely ! :)

If you add about a tablespoon of baking soda to the water while is it still cold, it raises the pH level, helping the shells come off. You still need to soak them in cold water after boiling.
Although I have never tested this idea, I have heard it before and it is consistent with the explanation for why older eggs peel easier due to a change in alkalinity.


Tracey, I always add a bit of salt to the water and it makes the shell come off easily. It you don't, the shells will be more likely to stick to the egg white and damage the look of the egg when you peel the shell.

Is there anything such as salt or vingar that you can add to the water during boiling so that the shell will peel smoothly?

an easy way to remove the shell from hard boiled eggs: after the eggs have cooled in cold water / gently tap eggs on counter to crack the shell then run a tea spoon (front side facing egg) between cracked shell and egg / the shell will come off easily

I heard that if you cover hardboiled eggs with ice cubes for 10 minutes or so they are easier to peel. I did it a couple of times now and it seems to help the peeling process and doesn't destroy the egg white as you try to peel. Do the ice cubes harm the eggs?

(probably not - Dave)

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