Does anyone know why my hardboiled eggs sometimes turn out mealy?

Fairly often the whites of my hardboiled eggs turn out flabby, soft and mealy. I have Googled this a few times and never found an answer. It happens regardless of the age of the egg, and regardless of the egg vendor, though my eggs are always farmer's-market, organic, local etc. My cooking method is to put the eggs in with the water, bring it up to a boil, and then turn off the heat and let sit for 10 min. Then douse with cold to stop the cooking. When the eggs don't turn out mealy, this is perfect. I've seen recipes saying to put the eggs in at the point the water boils, then let sit for 17 min but A) I find it hard to get eggs into boiling water gently and B) that sounds annoyingly long. I've also possibly noticed a correlation with leaving the eggs out on the counter after cooking and mealiness, but am not sure.

Valerie Stivers


Declan July 23, 2013
Hard boiled eggs take exactly 12 minutes in boiling water. When cooked (12 minutes only) cool them immediately to end the cooking. They will continue to cook unless you run cold water Peel them while their still warm ... Makes peeling a breeze.
Droplet July 22, 2013
I have had this happen to me a few times and it is indeed unpleasant. I have an unconfirmed suspicion that it has to do with the tap water. Even though technically water is treated with prescribed amounts of chemicals per volume turnaround, sometimes after storms or repairs done somewhere in the city, additional treatments are mandatory and if you don't use filtered water, which I don't for boiling eggs, it can affect them as the shells are porous.
petitbleu July 22, 2013
Perhaps the eggs are old, but it seems unlikely (and that's easy to test for--eggs that float are not safe to eat). I've definitely used older eggs for hard boiling, simply because they're a bit easier to peel. But I've never found them to be mealy.
I also doubt that your vendor is transporting them in an unrefrigerated scenario--their USDA inspector would have a coronary, and they should know better (unwashed eggs can be left unrefrigerated for a time, but eggs sold at market must be washed and refrigerated). An easy way to test this is to buy eggs from a different vendor.
You're definitely not overcooking the eggs. 10 minutes is just about perfect. Could the eggs have frozen? Sometimes, especially on the top shelf of my refrigerator, things freeze slightly. I've definitely had eggs freeze partially on accident. It seems that this could result in a mealy texture.
bigpan July 22, 2013
Maybe do a test with some store-bought what's rather than from the farmers market.
bigpan July 22, 2013
I suspect the eggs are old. I find some sellers at farmers markets recycle egg cartons so I would not trust the date on the carton. And/or the might have been transported from farm to market in a hot truck (that is, unrefridgerated).
Jenny K. February 7, 2019
Farm fresh unwashed eggs do not need to be refrigerated. Mine sit outside in 110 temps all day and they're fine.
Maedl July 22, 2013
How odd. I make hard boiled eggs exactly as you described and have not encountered the problem you describe. I either use the eggs immediately or put them in the refrigerator, so perhaps the refrigeration makes a difference. On the other hand, in the Middle East I have seen hard boiled eggs stacked up in street vendors' stands where they are most likely kept for hours--if not days-- and no one seems to mind. I never bought any, though, so I can't say what condition the eggs were in.
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