Its becoming more and more popular for urban city and suburban dwellers to raise chickens for their eggs. There are lots of good reasons to raise chickens, but fresh eggs from chickens you raise yourself in a humane way is at the top of my list. But there was one problem I realized right away was due to the freshness of the eggs from home raised chickens… and that was the problem of peeling a hard boiled freshly laid egg. They would end up looking awful with big gouges in the egg whites. They were ok for salads where they would be chopped a bit, but they were an embarrassment when I ate them whole and others saw my poor peeling job.
Finally I found the answer and I promise it works like a charm. Instead of boiling the eggs in water, you steam the eggs. Its that simple. And it really does work.
I use my spaghetti pot… you know the kind of pot with the strainer built in so you can just lift the finished noodles out. This avoids having to pour a whole pot full of hot steamy water and noodles into a strainer in the sink… and the possibility (or reality in my case once!) of those noodles accidentally going down the drain. I think the spaghetti strainer works great, but any kind of steamer/strainer that fits inside a pot so you can add a lid to it will work. You only need about an inch of water on the bottom and you dont want the water to touch the eggs so the strainer must lift the eggs up a tad over the water.
Place the eggs (I usually do 3-6 at a time) in the pot and turn the heat on medium-high. Put the lid on the pot. Because there isn’t much water it will start to steam and boil quickly. I prefer my hard boiled eggs to be cooked but for the yolk to still be a tad lighter in the center. This isn’t a soft boiled egg, but its also not so cooked you get that ugly green ring around the yolk from over cooking. Based on the med-high setting on my stovetop it takes me 18 minutes from the time I turn the heat on to finish my eggs. Others suggest a longer time of up to 22 minutes. I think it really depends on how big your pot is, how hot medium-high is for you, and how many eggs you are hard boiling. Once you are done steaming immediately place you eggs in a bowl of cold water or take your steamer out and rub cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process. The you can either peel your eggs immediately or put them into the refrigerator to cool down completion.
How long can you store a hard boiled egg?
Only about 7 days if unpeeled. You may think this is a short time when often freshly laid eggs can last for months in the refrigerator. Check out this Mother Earth News article on a huge test they did in the 70’s that concluded unwashed fresh fertile eggs lasted well in closed containers in the refrigerator. The key in egg storage is to NOT wash the eggs prior to storage. Chickens leave a layer of “bloom” which act as a barrier to bacteria. If you wash this off it allows bacteria to enter the small pours in the shell. When you steam or boil the eggs to make hard boiled eggs you remove that bloom and therefore need to eat the eggs quicker.