Using a pressure cooker to hard boil young hen eggs

HARD BOILING YOUNG HEN EGGS

Hard-boiled fresh eggs can be hard to peel but eggs laid by young hens are almost impossible. This year I had to replace my entire flock. It was especially frustrating to discover that even when the fresh, young hen eggs were left for 7 rather than the normal 3 days before hard-boiling, they were still impossible to peel.

An egg has an inner and outer shell membrane. Since the egg shell is permeable, as the egg ages, carbon dioxide and moisture are lost through the shell. This causes the two membranes to separate and the air sac to expand. As a result, the older the egg is, the easier it is to peel. 

My normal method of hard boiling eggs was to place them in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. The cooking time depends on egg size. I wanted a quick method that would ensure that relatively fresh eggs could be hard boiled and easily peeled. My Internet search lead me to the prairie homestead page. Although they were not talking about the problems of hard-boiling young hen eggs, they did mention the idea of using a pressure cooker. I am a huge fan of pressure cookers and believe that no kitchen should be without one. I have a number of different sized cookers and use them all the time to make soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes in a fraction of the time. They can even be used to can tomatoes and other vegetables.

 

For the experiment, I chose four eggs that had been laid on consecutive days. The egg on the right labelled 1 day old was laid on the same day, the 2-day old one the day before, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put 1 cup (250ml) of water in a pressure cooker and bring it to the boil.

Place the eggs on a steamer and lower it into the pan.

Close the pressure cooker lid and bring it up to full power. Turn down the heat and leave it for 5 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time, if your pressure cooker has a quick release mechanism, quickly release the pressure by placing the pan under the running cold tap. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water, running and change the water until the eggs are completely cool.

RESULTS:

I then peeled the eggs and these are shown in the photo below. The results are conclusive and show how the eggs are easy to peel, and even the freshest egg could be peeled with care.

 

Peeling hard-boiled eggs

Peeling hard-boiled eggs using ice

peeling hard-boiled eggs using ice

Peeling hard-boiled eggs in ice

 

An eggshell is permeable to air and water. A newly laid egg is covered by a natural coating called the bloom. This prevents loss of moisture from the egg and bacteria getting in. In my opinion, it is better to take advantage of this and not wash the eggs. The eggs are protected naturally and so do not need to be kept in the fridge. You can then wash the eggs just before you use them.

There are two membranes inside the shell: the outer shell membrane which adheres to the eggshell and the inner shell membrane surrounding the egg white and yolk. As time goes by, air enters the egg through the pores and fills the gap between the two membranes and the egg cell expands. It is this gap between the two membranes which affects how easy it is to peel a hard-boiled egg.

I’ve read that in order to peel very fresh eggs, it helps to immerse them in cold water and ice cubes so I thought I would give it a try to see if it helps. For the purpose of the “eggsperiment” I used 15 eggs of varying sizes and laid between 0 and 3 days ago (0 being a couple of hours previously).

The eggs were cooked in boiling water for 10 minutes. Cold water was then run over them and they were they plunged into the iced cold water. I left them for 45 minutes.

I found that eggs laid the same or the previous day were very difficult to peel. Eggs that were two days old were OK. Eggs which were three days old or more were good. I also found that putting the eggs in ice made no difference whatsoever and is not worth doing.