Copyright © 2013 jsd

Hard-Cooked Eggs – Steamed, not Boiled
John Denker

1  Rationale

If you’re going to be cooking eggs in their shells, may I suggest you steam them rather than boiling them. Advantages include:

2  Procedure

  1. Find or make a rack or other spacer to hold the eggs at least half an inch above the bottom of the pot, so that the eggs will be above the water level. Put the rack in the pot.
  2. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pot. A third of an inch is plenty.
  3. Add eggs.
  4. Put the pot on the stove. Turn the heat up high enough to make plenty of steam, enough so that even after flowing past all the eggs, there is steam coming out the top of the pot. Start timing from the moment steam starts to flow out the top of the pot ... as if it were a tea-kettle blowing steam.

    Note that because of the small amount of water involved, it heats up vastly more quickly than a full pot of water would.

  5. Later, after the eggs become warmer, you can turn down the heat. As long as there is steam coming out the top of the pot, you’re using enough heat.

3  Timing

For steaming, times range from 12 minutes to 15 minutes, depending on altitude, depending on the size of the eggs, and depending on whether they have been in the refrigerator or sitting out.

If you are cooking a lot of eggs, and can spare one, wait for what you think is the right amount of time, then take one out of the pot (from the top layer). Cut in in half. If it’s done, take the whole pot off the stove. If not, leave it on for another couple of minutes.

When cooking eggs by any method, you don’t want to overcook them or undercook them, and the process window is always rather small. Overcooking causes multiple problems, including:

4  Discussion

I have a rack to which I have attached four 1/4" diameter by 3/4" long machine screws. They serve as feet to hold the rack at a good height above the bottom of the pot.

The physics here works like this: You get a “heat pipe” effect. That is, due to the latent heat of condensation, the steam gives you much better distribution of heat than hot water ever could.

Also due to the lack of buoyancy, the eggs don’t jiggle around so it is very unlikely that they will break.

You can google for more information if you want. Or just do the experiment. I bet you’ll never boil another egg ever.

Note that as always, a transparent glass lid is preferred over any kind of opaque lid. Whoever said “a watched pot never boils” didn’t have a glass lid.

There are many other methods, each of which can be made to work, and each of which has its proponents. One popular method involves putting the eggs into a pot of cold water, bringing it to a boil, then removing it from the stove and letting it cool gradually and naturally. This has the advantage of taking very little effort. However, compared to steaming,

5  References

Martin Lersch
“Towards the perfect soft boiled egg”

Copyright © 2013 jsd