Eggs popped into my head the other day. Not actual eggs – just the thought of them. This got me thinking about boiling an egg: it’s cooking 101, isn’t it? Of course it is: basic culinary skills, one of the first things you learn to cook (toasting bread doesn’t count, although I have burnt my fair share of slices!).
Is there a right way and a wrong way? Do you place the egg in cold water before turning on the heat, or immerse the egg into already boiling water? Do you add salt to the water, or a drop of cooking oil, to prevent cracking? And of course, should it be hard boiled or soft? Questions, questions, questions. Where is my standard operational procedure when you need one?
As a scientist (retired) it occurred to me to conduct an experiment. So I did. Two saucepans. Two eggs, fresh from our chickens. Salt added to both saucepans to reduce the variables. One egg placed in the cold water. Gas then switched on and the saline in both pans began to warm up. And so, a glass of wine poured – something to occupy me while the water began to boil, which seemed to take an age.
At last the water reached 100’C and the second egg was carefully dropped in to the other saucepan. Timer set to three minutes, then another glass of wine consumed. The alarm buzzed and eggs removed using one of those large spoons with draining holes. Now for the tasting test. A sharp knife was used to sliced off the top of the eggs, and…
…the egg white was only partially white. Mostly, it was clear and runny. The yolk looked fine, at the desired consistency. But with almost raw egg white, no way was I going to taste it. Conclusion: three minutes to cook a fresh egg is simply not long enough. Not sure I can bother repeating this experiment for a while – maybe I’ll fry the eggs instead.