Quick Tip: How to peel a sticky egg shell

April 7, 2010

Peeling a freshly boiled egg is rarely a problem, but eggs that sit in the refrigerator can be a nightmare to peel. Every Easter I spend 30 minutes peeling hard-boiled eggs over the kitchen sink while the folks in the dining room eat them up faster than I can peel them. So, I needed a fast, fool-proof way to peel eggs no matter how sticky the shells.

I peeled 3 eggs using each of the following methods:

  1. Chris Kimball recommends “Tap the egg all over against the counter surface, then roll it gently back and forth a few times on the counter.” Then, “Begin peeling from the air pocket end. “
  2. The second method was to re-heat the eggs in boiling water for 2-minutes, then to drain quickly in a colander and drop into an ice bath.  This will make the egg expand, then contract and briefly separate the egg from the shell.
  3. Third, I tried a combination of both methods. I heated the eggs, but before dunking in ice bath I tapped and rolled the eggs on the counter. Finally, when I dunked then in the ice bath the water was supposed to be able to work its way between the egg and shell.

The Results (see 1st, 2nd and 3rd place results in picture above):

  1. Chris Kimball’s was the winning method. Not only was it the easiest, but all three eggs peeled cleanly. Once, I accidentally pushed too hard while rolling and split the egg in half, but still the shell came of cleanly.
  2. The heat-and-chill method was considerably more work, but if you are going to peel them directly after hard-boiling them, then it only requires dirtying one extra bowl. Two of the eggs released cleanly, and one of the egg didn’t release in one small spot, but with minimal loss of egg white.
  3. This method resulted in the most loss of egg white. Also, I split one egg in half while rolling on the counter. Overall, the eggs are too fragile when hot to roll of the counter, so this method is not recommended. Only one egg released cleanly.

Things I didn’t try:

  1. Supposedly older eggs are easier to peel. I didn’t try that because I generally buy fresh eggs, and don’t really like the idea of buy marginally old eggs just for ease of peeling.
  2. Adding vinegar while boiling the eggs is supposed to dissolve some of the calcium carbonate in the egg shell, making for a softer shell and easier peeling. In my case, the eggs were already hard-boiled.
  3. Crack all over and peel eggs under cold running water. This was my old method, and resulted in about 60% of eggs sticking to their shells.

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