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Eggs Enough and Time


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#31 qrn

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 10:16 AM

Interesting subject...
One comment I have is, all the timing is predicated on water boiling at 212º.
Here, depending on the current barometric pressure water boils at 202º Very few folks are at sea level
Pasta takes at least 20+minutes...
Bud

#32 maggiethecat

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 08:19 PM

Interesting subject...
One comment I have is, all the timing is predicated on water boiling at 212º.
Here, depending on the current barometric pressure water boils at 202º Very few folks are at sea level
Pasta takes at least 20+minutes...
Bud

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That's a very excellent point, and perhaps the reason recipes for soft boiled eggs often suck eggs, or why my timing may not jive with yours.

Margaret McArthur

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#33 ChefCarey

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 05:34 AM

Interesting subject...
One comment I have is, all the timing is predicated on water boiling at 212º.
Here, depending on the current barometric pressure water boils at 202º Very few folks are at sea level
Pasta takes at least 20+minutes...
Bud

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According to Greenpeace 70% of the world's population live on coastal plains and 11 of the world's 15 largest cities are on coasts or in estuaries.

Seems like sea level temps will work pretty good for most folks.

#34 andiesenji

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:13 PM

While searching through The Splendid Table How To Eat Supper I came across the mention of Herve This and his 65 degree egg. (Actually 149 degrees F.)
This intrigues me and I wonder if anyone else has tried the experiment but plan to try it myself tomorrow.

Method described here.

I'm not sure my oven will operate at that low a temp but one of my dehydrators should so I should have some results. I don't know how successful but it should be interesting. I do love eggs...
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#35 maggiethecat

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 11:59 AM

While searching through  The Splendid Table  How To Eat Supper I came across the mention of Herve This and his 65 degree egg.  (Actually 149 degrees F.)
This intrigues me and I wonder if anyone else has tried the experiment but plan to try it myself tomorrow. 

Method described here.

I'm not sure my oven will operate at that low a temp but one of my dehydrators should so I should have some results.  I don't know how successful but it should be interesting.  I do love eggs...

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Andie, that article gives me furiously to think. Like you, I'm up gor any new thinking about eggs.

Margaret McArthur

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#36 andiesenji

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 03:55 PM

While searching through  The Splendid Table  How To Eat Supper I came across the mention of Herve This and his 65 degree egg.  (Actually 149 degrees F.)
This intrigues me and I wonder if anyone else has tried the experiment but plan to try it myself tomorrow. 

Method described here.

I'm not sure my oven will operate at that low a temp but one of my dehydrators should so I should have some results.  I don't know how successful but it should be interesting.  I do love eggs...

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Andie, that article gives me furiously to think. Like you, I'm up gor any new thinking about eggs.

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I've prepared them at least three times since I posted this and every time they turned out beautifully.
I took the eggs out of the fridge the night before so they were at room temp when I began.
I set my Excalibur dehydrator at 155 degrees F., figuring that some heat is lost because of the open system, and used a thermometer on the center rack to keep track of the actual temp which varied between 145 and 150. Opening the front as little as possible because the temp did drop each time. I left them for 90 minutes and the whites were not fully sent but 100% opaque and the "skin" of the yolk did not collapse but the interior was the perfect consistency for me - the texture of extra thick cream.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#37 nickrey

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:44 PM

I must confess to a cheat when boiling eggs.

Simply slip the Burton egg-perfect egg timer in with the eggs in the water, watch it gradually change colour and take the eggs out when the indicator reaches the desired level of doneness.

Some of the reviews on Amazon talk about a plasticky taste in the eggs when using the product but I've never experienced this.

Someone also commented that it doesn't work at high altitudes so it may not suit if you live in the mountains.

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#38 maggiethecat

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:55 PM

Andie: thanks for the update.

Nick: I've always wondered if those gizmos work How cool is it that they do, and like you, I can't believe the plasticy thing penetrates the shell. If I see one on sale somewhere I'll buy one. But do I really want less drama in my life?

Oh yeah, right!

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#39 Kim Shook

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 10:43 AM

That was wonderful, Maggie! The funny thing is that I never saw this until today and my daughter and I had a discussion about soft boiled eggs YESTERDAY! She wanted to know how to do them and I told her the same thing that said - basically: I can cook lots of difficult things, but soft boiled eggs are one of the most challenging things that I've ever tried. I think that I see soft boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast this weekend!

#40 Chocolatesa

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:55 PM

Thank you for this! You've convinced me that a soft-boiled egg is doable, and I can't remember having attempted doing this ever. I'm looking forward to one on hot buttered toast with white pepper and powdered fat-free chicken broth sprinkled on top! (I keep it in a shaker and use it on lots of savoury foods).
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#41 Rover

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 05:59 PM

Back in the wilderness of my long-ago-childhood years in England, soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers were referred to as Nursery Tea. This evokes images of Peter Rabbit, being told to sit up straight and remarks about not having done a sufficiently good job of washing ones hands.

I think I feel the need for Nursery Tea for dinner this evening ...

Great article, Maggie - thank you.

Rover

#42 Lisa Shock

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 08:57 PM

I have owned one of the plastic egg devices for years, mine is marked Norpro brand, but it's the same thing. It works wonderfully well every time. I even took mine to culinary school and my instructor ran it through a barrage of tests when we were studying eggs. It worked every time. He liked it so much, I gave him one.

Some amazon reviews talk about a bad smell, I have never experienced that, nor have I had one fall apart.

#43 maggiethecat

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 10:21 PM

Back in the wilderness of my long-ago-childhood years in England, soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers were referred to as Nursery Tea.  This evokes images of Peter Rabbit, being told to sit up straight and remarks about not having done a sufficiently good job of washing ones hands.

I think I feel the need for Nursery Tea for dinner this evening ...

Great article, Maggie - thank you.

Rover

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Rover, you're welcome. Although I'm Canadian, not British, my grandparents were from Lancashire and I know the glory of nursery tea (I have a Royal Doulton porringer , Bunnykins, which I use when I'm scooping out a couple of soft boiled eggs over toast points with much butter, salt and pepper.)

Perfect soft boiled eggs are eminently doable, but require timing and care. But oh, so plain and eggy and good. And cheap and somehow luxurious.

Kim et all, enjoy.

Edited by maggiethecat, 24 July 2009 - 10:22 PM.

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#44 Dave the Cook

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 10:07 AM

"Eggs Enough and Time" has been selected for inclusion in the anthology Best Food Writing 2009. Congratulations, Maggie!

This is the third year in a row that the Daily Gullet has placed articles in BFW, and the second time in three years for multiple inclusions. Read the official announcement here.

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#45 racheld

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 08:50 PM

Well, it's about TIME!! The Voice To Be Reckoned With is finally recognized. I just hope she realizes how great a talent she has. And is.

Congratulations, Sweetpea!!

And to Daily Gullet for recognizing The Real Thing.
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#46 jgm

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:27 PM

I just re-read this, after seeing it mentioned in the NewsGullet I received in e-mail this afternoon.

It's been a helluva week. Moving an office, which we've spent the past two weeks doing, has been the biggest pain in the arse I've had in recent memory. The entire week has been full of (what should have been) simple projects that turned into technological nightmares, and it'll take at least all of next week to iron them out. The way things have been going, I'll be lucky if I'm not dealing with them for several more weeks. To say I'm in a bitchy mood would be a compliment I don't deserve.

Then, Maggie, along comes your description of trying to find a song on a CD that will be the perfect length, and I realize someone understands, really understands, my frustration with the simple act of boiling an egg. It would take at least three glasses of wine to lift my spirits that much.

Life does have its moments. When I arrive home from work tonight, perhaps my husband won't secretly wish I'd worked late. We both are grateful to you, even if he doesn't know it.

Jenny

#47 maggiethecat

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:07 PM

jgm: You just made myday! Thanks so much for your lovely words. I feel 'ya about your job -- hope things get better soon!

Have that wine anyway!

Margaret McArthur

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#48 maggiethecat

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:15 PM

I'm back to midwinter soft boiled eggs, and with our push to have home made bread around all the time, we always have toast. I've forsaken my eggcups, and I'm scooping out the eggs over the nest of toast soldiers. Nursery food, sure, put pour on the butter and s and p and it's the cheapest, most satisfying lunch around. Dessert is one of Priscilla's home grown satsumas, which takes care of a lotta those food groups.

Margaret McArthur

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#49 Blether

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:59 PM

And your great eggs gave you a wonderful story, too. I missed this one till now, Maggie. You've prompted me (forgive me !) to fire up Winamp and use the media library to sort everything by length: at 5 minutes, I can let you have CCR Sweet Home Alabama, Bruce Springsteen The River or (5:01) Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Somehow 5:30 works for me and I get a more esoteric choice between Elvis Costello Man Out of Time (5:29 and maybe his best - he apparently thinks so, or did at one point), Art Tatum and Ben Webster Night and Day, and (5:31) Styx Domo Arigato Mr, Roboto - which has to be just the thing.

"World Enough and Time..." - are you familiar with AD Hope's "Since you have world enough and time, sir, to admonish me in rhyme..." ?

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#50 anm

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 02:52 AM

definitely an experiment I want to repeat .Thank you !

Brings back fond memories of eating soft boiled eggs with pepper for Cold ...A treat ..

Edited by anm, 16 February 2010 - 02:53 AM.


#51 anm

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:30 AM

Is onsen tamago consistency any different?

#52 Robert Jueneman

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 08:00 AM

This was certainly an entertaining post, but hardly the last word on how to cook an egg. For that, you need to understand some recent research that discusses the effect that both temperature and time have on an egg, and turns conventional thinking upside down. See http://blog.khymos.o...-yolks-part-2/.

Now, at last, we have a means of controlling the consistency of the egg yolk through a very simple means. Simply cook the eggs in a temperature-controlled water bath for the desired time and temperature, using something like the Sous Vide Magic controlling a rice cooker filled with water, or a high-end immersion circulator, or even a Styrofoam cooler and tea pot of hot water, and then either serve the egg immediately or chill it for future use. For example, picking 63°C for a reasonable trade-off between the precision of the graph and the cooking time, we can see that 50 minutes would yield a consistency of sweetened condensed milk, 80 minutes that of honey, 125 minutes that of cookie icing, and approximately 160 minutes that of Marmite. If those times are too long for your taste, pick a slightly higher temperature and adjust accordingly.

OK, that gives us whatever consistency we want in terms of the yolk. But what about those snotty whites?

Well, here we can go back to a much more basic cooking technique, simply boiling the eggs for a short period of time in order to set the white to the desired consistency, but not so long as to heat up the yolk; then chilling them back to room temperature before cooking the egg yolks to the desired consistency. The outer egg white (the thin albumin) that is in contact with the shell will set, while the inner white (the thicker albumin) that surrounds the yolk will not, and neither will the yolk itself. But when using this technique, it is important to cool the egg quickly after boiling it, so that the hot temperature does not diffuse to the center of the egg.

According to several reports, the boiling step to set the egg white can be done either before or after cooking the egg yolk with equivalent results, so long as the egg is chilled back down to room temperature before cooking the yolk. But it should be noted that it is the interior of the yolk that needs to be chilled, and not just the whites, so the water should be cold, and the egg left in it for perhaps 30 minutes before cooking the yolk.

In my experiments, pre-boiling the egg for two minutes left the white a little runnier than I would like for most applications, but three minutes was about right. (I should note that I live in Taos, NM at an altitude of 7000 ft or 2133 meters, where the boiling point of water is 99.9°C /199.3°F, neglecting barometric pressure fluctuations. If you are at sea level, a little less than three minutes might be required for the same results.)

The eggs were pre-boiled for two and three minutes, respectively, directly from the fridge, then allowed to cool down to room temperature in a water bath. Then they were cooked in a precision water bath at 63°C/145°F for 60 minutes, 75 minutes, and 125 minutes, using two sous vide machines. Of the three different times, 63C for 125 minutes following a 3-minute pre-boil was clearly the best, at least from the standpoint of standing alone and looking “sexy.” A thin lining (1 or 2 mm) of egg white was left inside the shell, but the yolk with some white set around it separated cleanly. When the yolk was broken with a fork, the contents were somewhere between the consistency of honey and cookie icing — just like I wanted for my purposes, e.g., for serving the yolk on grilled asparagus, but maybe too thick for a poached egg on toast.

Finally, a word of caution if you are using an immersion circulator, or a Fresh Meals Magic with a bubbler, or any other sous vide appliance with a built-in circulator. There is a non-trivial risk that an egg could crack during the cooking process, and especially so if they are bouncing around in the tank. If that happens, you are going to have a messy cleanup to deal with — particularly if any egg white coagulates inside the circulator. For that reason, I would recommend cooking the eggs in a Ziploc bag that is filled with hot water from the thermal bath to surround the eggs. You may want to suspend the bag from a skewer to facilitate filling it, as well as providing a means of fast and easy retrieval. The water in the bag will quickly equilibrate with the water in the sous vide container, but if an egg cracks or breaks it will be confined to the bag.

Attached File  Asparagus with perfect egg-0097.jpg   52.53KB   3 downloads

#53 Parmhero

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 08:06 AM

Soft Boiled Eggs

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  • Attached File  015.JPG   193.7KB   1 downloads

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#54 maggiethecat

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 11:25 AM

Robert:Very enlightening! Thanks. (Of course, had I known all this I'd never have had the courage to write the piece.)

Parhermo: Perfection! I now know what I'm making for lunch.

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#55 Kouign Aman

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 12:02 PM

I used this article for inspiration when testing cooking time for medium eggs (a size I've never used before) with perfect set-whites, soft-yolk to completely-runny yolk, to be peeled and marinated in a water/mirin/soy mix (3:1:1). Its freaking impossible to peel an intact egg if the whites are not fully set. It deforms and destroys itself. I will stand by that statement until and unless someone provides hard documentary evidence and a demonstration to the contrary.

I eventually ended at 3:50 minutes, for a product like Parmhero's. I love that picture!
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#56 violetfox

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 03:49 PM

The Ramen issue of David Chang's Lucky Peach is positively obsessed with egg cookery - I'm having a really great time playing with the different lengths of time and methods. I'm charmed and amazed by the variety of textures and effects that can be achieved by small variations in technique.
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#57 Kouign Aman

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 04:34 PM

Of course, for a perfectly runny yolk, where no white is desired, one could simply separate a raw egg and use the yolk (much as its used in the asparagus pic a couple posts up.).
Guaranteed not to be overcooked.
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#58 TheCulinaryLibrary

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 05:57 PM

Dear Maggie,
One small step for soft boiled eggs is definitely one giant step for egg boilers. But of course, like all cooking, it's an endless journey this quest for the holy grail of the perfect soft-boiled egg. FRESHNESS effects the cooking time required..and SIZE MATTERS so you'll need to add a minute for each upgrade from medium to large to extra large...and then there's there's the WHITE TEXTURE, salting the cooking water makes it toughen to rubber instead of setting softly luscious...then the YOLK CENTERING, turning your carton of eggs sideways the day before cooking will centre your cooked yolk perfectly.....oh...and now how to avoid that GREY-GREEN HALO when the iron in the yolk meets the sulphur in the white...

#59 maggiethecat

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:51 PM

Yes, it is all those things! But still, it can be simpler.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

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#60 Food Canon

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 10:51 PM

My quest for the perfect soft-boiled eggs ended when I discovered how to make 45min 65°C Onsen Tamago eggs, initially with some simple home kitchen equipment (blogged here), and then later, using Sous Vide.

The problem with eating perfect eggs this way everytime is it takes away the art and make the process too predictable.

The destination is great but I have lost the joy of the journey.

Attached File  IMG_6442-3.JPG   123.31KB   0 downloads

Edited by Food Canon, 16 September 2011 - 10:52 PM.