Why is it Hard to Hard Boil a Fresh Egg?
A reader here at the Grow Network recently asked the question, “Do you know any tricks for how to make egg shells come off easily from hard boiled eggs?” I used to have this problem myself when I first started gathering fresh eggs from my own flock. As I learned, the problem was that the eggs were too fresh!
In freshly laid eggs, the albumen (egg white) sticks tightly to the shell membrane, making it impossible to peel. Eggs used for hard boiling should be at least 5 days old, in order for the shells to come off easily.
Mark Your Eggs for Easy Identification
I mark each egg as I find it in the nest with the date and the initial of the hen who laid it. I always use a pencil, not a pen or a marker. Ink could harm the potential developing chick inside the egg.
If I want to raise more chicks of a certain type, I will know who the mother is and how old the egg is. It is a pleasant coincidence that this practice also makes it very easy to know when an egg is ready for boiling.
The Perfect Hard Boiled Fresh Egg
For perfect hard boiled eggs, put them in a pot of water and bring it up to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave the eggs in the covered pot for 17 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs.
Then replace the hot water with cold water to cool the eggs quickly. Cooling quickly prevents the green ring around the yolk that comes from overheating. Sulfur in the egg white reacts with iron from the egg yolk to produce a film of ferrous sulfide on the yolk’s surface. This green layer is harmless but may be unappetizing.
How to Peel Your Perfect Eggs
A trick to remove the shell easily is to use a small spoon that fits between the shell and the egg, sort of like delivering a baby with forceps. We use a small coffee spoon called a cucchiaino, about half the size of a teaspoon, which is the perfect size for our eggs.
Read more: 5 Easy Ways to Preserve Your Fresh Eggs
How I Get the Freshest Eggs
My husband and I retired to south Italy in 2009. As soon as we got situated, we bought nine young hens and a rooster from a local farmer. We love watching our chickies run around the yard, scratching in the dirt and eating weeds and bugs. The yolks of our eggs are a much deeper red than store-bought eggs, and really delicious.
We have an unlimited free supply of organic free range eggs, and fresh oil from our own olive trees. We are really “living off the fat of the land.”
Why Fresh Eggs are Healthier for You
Of course, the nutrient content of organic free range eggs is far superior to conventional eggs. But even supermarket eggs are a source of the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan, which are needed by the heart and brain.
Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two yellow-pigmented carotenoids which are very beneficial to the eyes. Cooking eggs reduces these antioxidants by about half.
Read more: Would You Eat Chicken-less Eggs?
If You Can’t Get Fresh Eggs, Get Pastured Organic
Eggs are one of the most important foods to spend a little extra money on and always buy organic. Pastured eggs contain more vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta carotene. The reason for this is that the chickens are out in the open, like my chickens, eating highly nutritious weeds and insects.
One of the weeds chickens love is purslane, which increases the omega-3 content of their egg yolks. Avoid buying eggs labeled as “omega-3 eggs,” as they probably come from chickens that are fed poor quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized.
How to Get the Most Nutrition from Your Eggs
Egg yolks are loaded with bioflavonoids, brain fats like phosphatidyl choline, and fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K. Organic eggs can be eaten raw or added to breakfast shakes. The healthiest way to cook eggs is to soft boil or poach them, leaving the yolks mostly raw to preserve the vitamins. The worst way to cook eggs is scrambling, especially if the eggs are beaten ahead of time and allowed to sit, as may be done in restaurants. Mixing with air causes the cholesterol in the yolk to oxidize, which is what makes cholesterol harmful.
Conventionally-raised eggs should never be eaten raw as they are likely to be contaminated with salmonella, not to mention pesticide residues.
Infographic: Eggsposing Some Basic Facts About Eggs
Myths about Healthy Eggs
The idea that eggs are unhealthy and promote heart disease is a complete myth. It is true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, but this is not really a bad thing. The cholesterol in egg yolks has little relationship to blood cholesterol levels.
Research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that even eating several eggs every day did not raise blood cholesterol levels. In most people there is a feedback mechanism that decreases the body’s production of cholesterol when more is consumed.
Don’t Skimp on Healthy Cholesterol
Cholesterol has important functions in the body, such as controlling the fluidity of cell membranes. It is also the starting material for making vitamin D (cholecalciferol), the adrenal hormones aldosterone (which controls salt balance) and cortisone (for stress adaptation), as well as the male and female sex hormones.
When the diet supplies an insufficient quantity of the other antioxidants like vitamins C, E, B3, carotenes, and the minerals zinc, sulfur, and selenium; cholesterol can even function as an antioxidant in their place. Getting enough of these antioxidants, especially C and B3 (niacin), can lower a high cholesterol level.
The fact that niacin lowers cholesterol was discovered decades ago by Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer, who also pioneered the orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia with “mega” doses of niacin and vitamin C.
Digging Deeper into Cholesterol
Deposition of cholesterol in arteries is not the body’s stupid mistake. According to Linus Pauling and Dr. Matthias Rath, it is a repair mechanism for artery walls damaged by free radicals, due to a lack of antioxidants, especially vitamin C.
Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen and mucopolysaccharides, the “glue” that holds cells together. Without it, arteries weaken and bleed into tissue spaces. This is what scurvy is. Some people think this is also what Ebola is, and that high-dose intravenous vitamin C could cure it. Cholesterol is deposited by your wise body to patch up and repair damaged arteries.
Eggs are Healthy for Vegetarians Too
Many people suffer from depression because their cholesterol levels are too low, either naturally or due to cholesterol-lowering drugs. Drugs like statins also cause many other bad side effects, including blocking production of coenzyme Q-10 which is needed for a healthy heart.
Even vegetarians who are opposed to killing animals can eat eggs in good conscience. As long as they are not “fertile eggs,” for which you pay extra, there is no living embryo in the egg. Hens lay eggs whether there is a rooster around or not. The yolk and white are only a food supply for a potential chick, and a chick will never develop without a rooster to fertilize the egg.
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