I'm in search of the best method for making hard-cooked eggs at high altitude and I need some help. So far I've tried four different methods for hard-cooked eggs with varying degrees of success. Quite honestly, I'm beginning to drive my family and co-workers a bit crazy will all the eggs. Do you have a favorite method of making hard-cooked eggs? I'm not really looking for perfection, just a tried-and-true method for consistently producing quality hard-cooked eggs in "the boat" at 6,700 feet above sea level.
This obsession began while I was thumbing through my newest food science book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. He writes for one of my favorite food blogs, Serious Eats. As a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is decidedly a nerd-in-the-kitchen who takes his food science seriously. In his six-pound book (of course I weighed it---what else are kitchen scales for?), he has a chapter on boiled eggs. As he describes the "truly perfect boiled egg" I, of course, had to try it. This launched me into my high altitude experiment of four different methods for hard-cooked eggs.
Below I've listed the methods that I have tried so far. Does my criteria for the best egg match yours? Have I tested your method yet? If not, leave a comment with your favorite method and I'll give it a try. Make sure to tell me your town or elevation when you comment.
Criteria for the perfect hard-cooked egg:
- Both the yolk and the white should be cooked throughout, but not tough.
- No green coating on the yolk! (As a child, my sister and I hated the green balls inside the yummy whites. One Easter we hid a dozen green-tinged yolks under our beds. Trust me, you have never smelled anything as bad as two month-old decaying egg yolks...yuck.)
- Relatively easy cooking method.
- Cooked eggs should be easy to peel.
The Food Lab Method - #1:
- They start with 2 quarts of water brought to a boil in a large pan.
- Carefully lower the 1-6 eggs into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Did I mention that you also need a timer for this method?
- Next, add a dozen ice cubes to the boiling water then return the eggs to a boil. If you are still tracking these instructions you are truly amazing because I am totally over following this method and it's fussiness...but it goes on.
- Once the water returns to a boil, lower the water to 190 degrees for 11 minutes. Of course you have nothing better to do than baby-sit your eggs with your thermometer for the next 11 minutes.
- Drain and peel under running water.
My opinion: I guess you can tell from my comments above that I am not a fan of cooking methods that need so much of my time and attention. After all...this isn't brain surgery, these are hard-cooked eggs. This method made perfect, easy-to-peel eggs, but I have better things to do with my time than hovering over a simmering pot of water monitoring the water temperature.
The 20-minute Boil Method -#2:
This method comes from The New High Altitude Cookbook by Beverly Anderson and Donna Hamilton. A good friend swears by this technique, so I gave it a try.
- Place eggs in the bottom of a saucepan, then fill the pan with cold water to cover the eggs by one inch.
- Bring the water to a "furious" boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer the eggs for 20 minutes.
- Cool immediately in cold water.
My opinion: This method would easily accommodate a large amount of eggs. The eggs were only slightly green, but some of them were difficult to peel. The total cooking time for this method was 30 minutes, plus cooling time. This method can work, but the eggs fell short of my expectation of perfection.
Boil and Leave Method - #3:
The cooking method that I have been using for the past ten years was derived from a conversation that I had with the people at the American Egg Board. At the time they didn't have specific recommendations for a high altitude version of their recipe, so I adapted their method until it worked for my altitude.
- Place eggs in a single layer in a medium saucepan, then add enough water to cover the eggs by one inch.
- Bring the water to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer the eggs for 5 minutes.
- Remove the covered pan from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Plunge eggs into ice water.
My opinion: This method works well for large batches of eggs, but often the eggs yolks have a green tinge. I have also noticed that the eggs with this method are hard to peel. Until recently, I thought that the ease of peeling had to do with the age of the egg, but now I'm thinking that it might be my cooking method. It's time to replace the method with something better.
Steamed Method - #4
My favorite foodie magazine, Cook's Illustrated, shared a new cooking method in their March-April 2016 issue. I had never heard of steaming eggs, but when my nutrition colleagues at the Colorado State University recommended it, I decided to give it a try.
- Bring one inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan with a steamer basket.
- Place eggs in the steamer basket and cover.
- When water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue steaming for 13 minutes.
- Plunge the steamed eggs into a bowl of ice water.
My opinion: If you own a steamer basket (and I hope that you do because it's my favorite way to cook veggies) this method is worth exploring. It is easy and took less than 20 minutes of cooking time, plus cooling time. The eggs were easy to peel but the yolks were under-cooked so I'll need to make some adjustments for my 6,700 ft. elevation. This method has potential.
Now it's your turn-
If you have another way of making hard-cooked eggs at altitude share it with me, I'd like to give it a try.
If you want to try something new, give method #4 a try and let me know how many minutes of steaming works for your elevation. I know that for Steamboat, 13 minutes isn't long enough cooking time. Post your results in the comment section and together we'll find the perfect method for high altitude hard-cooked eggs. Thanks for sharing!
Check back with lifeintheboat.com to see which method works best. I'll also be sharing some great recipes for all of those hard-cooked eggs.12