We buy large Grade A eggs in the Southern Living Test Kitchen. To test their freshness beyond the stamp on the carton, place an egg in a glass of water. If it sinks, it's fresh; if it remains suspended, it's okay; if the egg floats, it has lost density—discard it.
Like steak, eggs have different degrees of doneness. Boiling eggs is all about the timing. Here in the Test Kitchen we cooked dozens of eggs in search of the most consistently tender whites and evenly cooked yolks.
Here's how to boil eggs: Place six eggs in a single layer in a 4-qt. stainless steel saucepan; add 5½ cups water (or just enough to cover the eggs), and bring to a simmer. Start your timer, maintain water at a bare simmer, and cook to preferred doneness, using the times below as your guide. Drain the eggs, and soak them under a steady stream of tap water until cool to the touch. Then get cracking.
1. Soft-Cooked Eggs — 5 minutes
White is just set, and yolk is creamy. Serve on its own, over pasta, or on toast.
2. Medium-Cooked Eggs — 8 minutes
Yolk is almost opaque and just firm. Great for composed salads.
3. Hard-Cooked Eggs — 10 minutes
The all-purpose egg. Yolk is bright yellow and just cooked all the way through.
4. Any Longer? Bless Your Heart!
You have ring-around-the-yolk because you boiled them for too long. Don't toss them; they're still edible. Many cultures prize long-cooked eggs.
Egg Shell Peeling Myths
Myth: Add cooking oil to the water so the shells slide right off.
Jury's Still Out: Cooking fresh eggs with baking soda makes them easier to peel.
Myth: Adding vinegar makes peeling a breeze. Though if cracked, it keeps eggs from splitting while boiling.
Myth: Chilling eggs before peeling eases the process.
There's more than one way to crack and peel an egg, but we prefer gently tapping all sides of the egg on a flat surface and peeling it under running water so the shell comes off quickly and easily.