Keeping eggs fresh has always been a challenge.
Less than 100 years ago refrigeration was a luxury for the rich, so keeping eggs fresh relied on ingenuity and the staples of the house.
In this article we are going to be talking mainly about hard boiled eggs; how to, storage, nutrition.
This is all you ever wanted to know about hard boiled eggs, all in one place. We will also talk about a couple of delicious recipes that are simple to prepare, but let’s start with the basics…
How to Hard Boil an Egg
Have you ever tried to peel a fresh hard-boiled egg? If your eggs are real fresh it’s almost impossible. The shell clings so tightly to the egg that you end up with an egg that looks like it has been half eaten, either that or you threw them across the room in frustration!
It was a long time before I found the secret to fresh hard boiled eggs – today I’m going to share it with you.
Steaming the eggs is the secret! Place your eggs in a steaming basket in the saucepan with enough water to come to the bottom of the basket – I generally do a dozen at a time. Cover the pan.
Turn on the heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat but ensure that water is still boiling and steam is rising.
Once the water is boiling set your timer:
- Small bantam size eggs (20 minutes).
- Large chicken eggs (25 minutes).
After the time is up pour out the hot water and replace with cold water. Repeat again and add lots of ice to the water – you want to ‘shock’ the eggs.
When they are cool you can peel them, start by rolling them across a hard surface to help shatter the shell; then peel under running cold water. They still take a little patience to get them started but once you get in the groove you will have them done in no time.
How Long Do Hard Boiled Eggs Last?
Hard boiled eggs with their shell still on, will last one week in the fridge. You should put them in a container and date them so you can remember when you cooked them. Place them in the back of the fridge so they stay cool.
Shell off eggs last between 5-7 days. They should be kept in cool water (change daily) or put them in a container with a damp towel over them. If they start to feel a little slimy – toss them out. It’s important to keep them at a stable, cool temperature as they will last a little longer.
How to Correctly Store Hard Boiled Eggs
The worst possible place to store eggs is in the door.
I can remember back in the days when the refrigerator came with a special egg compartment – in the door!
The door is subject to a wide variety of temperature change every time you open and close it.
You should store your eggs (fresh or otherwise) in a carton, or container, on a shelf in the middle of the fridge and nearer the back than the front. This ensures the eggs are kept at a more constant temperature and therefore not as likely to ‘go off’.
Hard boiled eggs don’t do well in the freezer. They turn rubbery and a bit slimy – very unappetizing.
Alternative Methods of Storing Eggs
There really are only three popular ways to store unused fresh eggs.
Pickled eggs are a yummy treat and simple to make. Pickling your eggs will extend their lives to around four months after which time they tend to get a bit rubbery.
Here in the US and Canada all eggs should be refrigerated, why is that? In an effort to combat salmonella and other nasty little bugs that might make you sick, the United States Department of Agriculture states that all eggs should be ‘power washed’ to remove dirt and organisms.
Sounds great, but the washing also removes the protective ‘bloom’ on the egg allowing easy access into the egg for bacteria after they have been washed, so refrigeration is necessary.
Some farming concerns here in the US have started vaccinating their flocks to prevent salmonella, but still the eggs have to be washed according to the USDA.
In the UK and many other countries, eggs are often stored on the counter at room air. Most UK and European flocks are vaccinated for salmonella so the egg is safe to eat at room temperature because the ‘bloom’ is retained.
At the height of the egg laying season I do freeze a couple dozen eggs which I use later for baking, it’s a good way to preserve some of those extra eggs for later times when eggs are harder to come by.
Freezing eggs does alter the texture somewhat so they are really only fit for baking as they lose their freshness easily.
You can freeze the whole egg – just beat all together like you would if you were making scrambled eggs. I use a large ice cube tray to freeze them in. Be sure to coat the tray with a little cooking oil otherwise they stick like glue!
Eggs can be stored for up to one year in the freezer. You cannot freeze ‘shell on’ eggs.
Other Methods of Storage and Preparation
If you don’t have or want a refrigerator, how do you store eggs? Our great grandparents were very inventive and some folks still use these methods today.
It’s worth mentioned that all of these methods call for fresh, unwashed eggs, supermarket eggs are a no-no.
You can stand fresh ‘shell on’ eggs in salt layers. Make sure they are stored point downward and that they don’t touch each other. Cover with salt and continue to pack the eggs.
The storage area should be above freezing and dry. It is said they will keep for several months.
In a pan place a quart of water and heat. Add salt until the water will no longer dissolve the salt (around 1/8th of a pound).
Place eggs very gently into a quart jar, and when the brine has cooled, pour slowly over the eggs. Place a plastic lid on the container and store in a cool place.
The brining process will take about 3 weeks and the eggs should keep for several months.
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Well, they aren’t quite a century old, nowhere near in fact, but they are a Chinese delicacy.
The traditional way of making Pidan (century eggs) was time consuming so modern science has sped up the process.
The eggs soak in a mixture of salt, calcium hydroxide and sodium carbonate for 10 days. Once removed from the mixture, the aging process begins. The eggs are wrapped in airtight plastic for 15 weeks or more. They are now ready for consumption.
The yolk has now turned to a grey/green creamy consistency and the white is now a dark brown salty jelly – the whole thing smells quite strongly of ammonia – enjoy!
Hard Boiled Egg Nutritional Information
We all know that eggs are good for us, but just how good are they?
This information is based on one large egg:
- Protein – 7gm
- Fats – 5gm – 7% Recommended Daily Amount
- Cholesterol – 187mg – 62% RDA
- Sodium – 63mg – 2%RDA
- Potassium – 63mg – 1% RDA
- Vitamin A – 5% RDA
- Calcium – 2% RDA
- Iron – 3% RDA
Eggs also contain vitamin D, B complex, phosphorus, selenium, riboflavin, choline, and carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin).
All of these items combine to give you a healthful boost of nutrition.
As we have seen today, some of the old time methods are still used in places where they don’t have fridges and they work well enough.
Bear in mind for all these preserving recipes you need fresh eggs. Supermarket eggs should not be used for long term storage.
If any of you out there have tried the century egg – please let us know in the comments section below…