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Soft boiled eggs at high altitudes


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Okay, this is such a simple thing, and yet I cannot do it!

I live north of Denver. The altitude here is about 5400 feet. And for the life of me, I cannot properly cook a soft-boiled egg! Either I crack them open and they're too runny, or I miss the mark and they're hard-boiled. Trial and error, surprisingly, isn't really getting me anywhere.

Is there a useful formula that will help me determine how long to cook soft-boiled eggs at various altitudes?


Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

"Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn." ~Garrison Keillor

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I had 2 ideas that may be completely useless :biggrin:

1st was, Hot Spring Eggs like sous vide where you cook in water the temerature that you want the egg to Be, but you still have the temperature to elevation variable...

2nd was, there is a glass or lucite egg "timer" that you drop in the pot with the eggs and read when the egg is cooked to different degrees.

otherwise practice poaching


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The answer is rather more complex, and you need to understand a little about how an egg cooks.

Egg white and egg yolk consist of a number of different proteins, each of which coagulate at different temperatures. The ones in the yolk coagulate at between 65C and 68C, while those in the yolk start at 65C but the major component , ovalbumin, doesn't coagulate until about 80 °C. Water boils at 100C, although or simmers at a little less.

So how can we get the yolk to 65C or less and the white to 80C. We rely on the fact that the egg white doesn't conduct well, so when the egg is dropped in hot water it can be removed before the heat has penetrated to the yolk. Leave it longer, and the yolk heats up and get progressively harder.

Of course how much heat needs to be transferred depends on the initial temperature of the egg - fridge or room temperature.

At elevated altitudes water boils at a lower temperature (about 95C AT 5400), so the temperature gradient is less, and the time for the white to coagulate is longer, both of which make getting a hard white and a soft yolk harder.

People have made mathematical models (see http://newton.ex.ac.uk/teaching/CDHW/egg/ , which recommends 5 minutes for a "3 minute egg" or Martin Lersch's page http://khymos.org/eggs.php or http://eriks-food-ucation.blogspot.com/200...g-egg-with.html

One thing that might help is to put cold eggs from the refrigerator (pricked to stop the expansion of the gas bubble from cracking the shell) straight into boiling water, thus maximising the temperature gradient. Try around 6 minutes,

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