Saturday, July 31, 2010

This and That...

Having had to change today's topic from 'weigh before you buy' (foods sold at unit price, not by weight), have decided to lift another photo from my document file and have a chat about that.

This is, as you see, a bowl of halved, hard-boiled eggs with not a tinge of green around the yolk (as so often can happen). The secret to a good looking egg is to hard-boil it for only 8 minutes. Any longer and the outer part of the yolk will start to discolour.
Start the eggs off in cold water, bring to the simmer (no need to fast boil) and start timing. After 8 minutes immediately drain the eggs and plunge them into cold water (iced water if possible). Gently crack the shells all over, and as soon as the water warms up, remove eggs and place in more cold water. Remove shells when the egg has cooled down.

The age of the egg is all important if you want an unblemished egg once shelled. The fresher the egg the harder it is to remove the shell, so use eggs that are at least a week old.
Between the shell and the cooked white is a membrane, and the aim is to get the water between this and the white, and once this happens the shell slides off easily. So by taking care when removing the first bits of cracked eggshell, and lifting up the membrane as you do so, this makes the job so much easier.
Jamie Oliver once showed how he rolls a cracked egg over the work surface, pressing down gently with the palm of his hand while he does so. The really does crack the shell all over, and does make it easier to remove, however, pressing too hard and this can also split the white - something we don't always want to happen.

Nutritionally, it doesn't matter if the white of the egg looks a bit messy after shelling, and if being used to make egg mayonnaise, it is of no consequence. But if pickling eggs, or wishing for a good appearance, then care needs to be taken when shelling.
Whenever possible, always hard-boil eggs the day you intend using them, for shelled or unshelled - if left in water and chilled overnight, often the following day - the yolk will have started to discolour.