Punchinello’s Chronicles

September 18, 2009

The Perfect Soft Boiled Egg

Filed under: Food & Recipes — Punchinello @ 1:10 am
Tags: , ,

When I notice something odd, it bothers me. I think it may be related to OCD (not the organized crime division, the other one). Often, it’s because there isn’t a good explanation, or the references have been written poorly. Too many people make too many assumptions, and the results aren’t working. That’s the problem with soft boiled eggs. Too many explanations involve “bringing the water to a boil” and “place the egg in the water.”

I’m forever indebted to Michael Chu over at Cooking for Engineers, who provides the definitive solution to making eggs (hard or soft boiled). At sea-level, because lower air pressure in mountains means water boils at less than 212° F. He explains exactly what’s going on and how to replicate his results. I did so, and WAH-LAH!…perfect soft-boiled eggs! And so, being that I have a sense of global responsibility and such, I decided to post it here. (The comments are pretty funny too, if you think about totally over-doing the analytics!)

The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

The problem was putting an egg into water for a period of time. Is the egg cold, right out of the fridge? It’s cooking while the water’s coming up to a boil, so how accurate is the time? And what’s a “boil?”

The solution − Steep the Eggs:

Bring the water to a rolling boil first, while leaving egg(s) in the fridge until ready to cook. Then put ’em in the water and turn off the heat.

  1. Large egg (however many you want to eat)
  2. Direct from fridge
  3. Covered pot (I like 2-quart with lid)
  4. 1-1/2 times depth of egg worth of water (about halfway up the pot) or more
  5. Placed (gently) in rolling boil (so it won’t crack). Use a spoon or some tongs.
  6. Put cover back on
    Note: It’s important to keep the cover on, to maintain a steady temperature loss from the water.
  7. Turn off heat, remove from burner.
  8. Let sit in hot water 7:30 mins. (7 minutes, 30 seconds)
  9. Remove eggs and immediately place in cold water (to stop all internal cooking)
  10. Let sit about half a minute or so until you can pick up egg without scalding fingers
  11. Knock of top, and scoop out egg onto buttered toast (or whatever).

I checked, and when bubbles are happening in the water, but it’s not that big-ass roiling boil, the water’s more likely at around 195-200 degrees, not really 212. Keep the egg(s) in the fridge until the water’s kickin’ butt, boiling like President Obama listening to Rush Limbaugh.

Almost all refrigerators keep temps at around 35-37 degrees, so that’s a constant. Likewise, the boiling water (at about sea-level, not in the mountains) is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so that’s a constant as well. A “large” egg is a commercial standard, so that’s also a constant.

By setting the water temperature and adding the egg, both at constant temperatures, the cooling and cooking become constant as well. Unless you’re cooking over an open fire, outside, in the middle of winter and it’s 20 below zero. In a snowstorm.

Keeping a cover on the pot as the water cools helps maintain a steady loss of heat as well. What you’re trying to accomplish is to remove as many variables as physics will allow. The cover prevents heat loss, thereby ensuring that the water cools at a slow and steady speed, long enough to make sure the cooking is near to exact.

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1 Comment »

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    Comment by black hattitude — October 15, 2009 @ 5:40 am | Reply


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