Sure as eggs is eggs!
Expert tips for cooking the perfect eggs
Whether they’re poached, boiled, fried, baked or scrambled, eggs are one of the most versatile and nutritious kitchen staples. Simple though they may be, however, there are a number of common mistakes when it comes to cooking them.
The following tips, courtesy of chef and Australian Eggs ambassador Manu Feildel, should help you to cook them perfectly every time.
Common mistakes when cooking poached eggs
- Using old eggs
When poaching eggs, freshest is always best. Older eggs will have whites that are quite runny, which means they won’t hold together as well in the water. Test an egg for freshness by gently placing into a bowl of water. If it lies on its side it is quite fresh; if it stands on end it is less fresh; and if it floats, it is stale or most likely bad.
- Cracking the egg straight into the water
Always crack your egg into a small bowl before tipping it gently into the water, as this will help it keep its shape in the water.
- Poaching them in salt water
Never add salt to your poaching water; the salt breaks down the protein. Instead, adding a little vinegar to your poaching water will help the white to firm up and hold together in a nice round shape.
- Having the water too cold or too hot
If the water is too hot and bubbly it will cause even the freshest egg to tear apart. The trick is to have the water at a gentle simmer around 90˚C, to gently cook through with light bubbles that massage the white to surround the yolk. If the water’s too cold the egg will disperse.
Common mistakes when cooking boiled eggs
- Dropping the eggs into the water
The delicate shell needs to be treated gently. Add your eggs one at a time, using a pasta spoon or slotted spoon so the eggs are not hitting the bottom of the pan or each other, which can crack the shells.
- Cooking the eggs with an off-centre yolk
If your eggs aren’t super fresh and you want to have your yolks in the centre when cooked, gently swirl them in the pot of water for a minute or two.
- Over-crowding the pot
It is best to add just enough eggs for one layer.
- Adding the eggs to rapidly boiling water
If the water is too bubbly, the eggs will bounce around causing the shells to crack and white to escape. Gently add your eggs to warm water, place over a medium heat to bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer until they are cooked.
- Leaving your eggs in hot water after they have come off the heat
To prevent that dark grey ring on the yolk of your boiled eggs, remove the eggs from the boiling water once cooked, plunge immediately into very cold water and lightly crack each shell a little on one side.
- Peeling your eggs too soon
To ensure your shell comes off cleanly, cool your eggs in cold water, this will cause the whites to slightly contract and pull away from the white skin between the egg white and the shell.
- Always cook on low to medium heat
One of the keys to getting the perfect eggs every time is cooking them at the right temperature. Eggs are delicate and require a gentle heat, regardless of how you’re cooking them.
- Use room temperature eggs when baking
Room temperature eggs will always give better results with baked goods. A quick hack is to pop the eggs into a bowl of warm water (not hot) and allow them to stand for a few minutes.
- Old eggs vs. fresh eggs for meringues
Older egg whites at room temperature are easier to whip and give a little more volume, but they also have larger bubbles and the foam needs to be used straight way. This makes them great when making macaroons and meringues! Fresh cold egg whites need a little more whipping, but have smaller bubbles with a more uniform texture, which is great for pavlova.