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Why is it so hard to peel eggs at altitude? Is there anything you can do besides the obvious?

We’re having a family debate— no matter how hard we try, we can’t peel hard boiled eggs in Colorado. None of the usual tricks work. Anyone know WHY it’s so difficult? We are curious about the science of it.

Zoe is an Account Executive at Food52.

asked 7 months ago

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4 answers 472 views
dryer_fire
added 7 months ago

I live at ~8000 feet and peeling eggs is a nightmare.

I'm not entirely sure of the science behind it, but I'd guess it has something to do with the fact that water boils at a lower temperature at altitude, but the temperature for coagulation of the proteins in the egg doesn't change. This is also likely why the first time I made custard at high altitude was a total disaster...

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HalfPint
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 7 months ago

Serious Eats did an egg 'study' and found that the best way to cook hard boiled eggs that peel easily is lower the cold eggs into boiling water instead starting them in the water. It has something to do with the whites pulling away from the shell before the center of the egg gets heated.

I don't know that high altitude has much to do with why it's hard to peel the eggs, but another method for easier to peel eggs is cooking them in a pressure cooker. Again, i don't know why that is so..

Anyhoo, here's Kenji's article n perfect hard boiled eggs: http://www.seriouseats...

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AntoniaJames
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 7 months ago

HalfPint, based on what you've added to this discussion, I am wondering whether the answer might lie in the fact that water boils at a lower temperature at high altitudes, which means that if the eggs are slid into the water when boiling, they don't get the benefit of as high a heat hitting the outside of the egg. Again, I'm just speculating, and have not done any research . . . . . ;o)

AntoniaJames
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 7 months ago

Also, not sure what "the obvious" means, but keep a carton for boiling in the back of your fridge, and only boil eggs that are a minimum of one and preferably 2 weeks old. It makes such a difference. And, of course, crush all the eggs lightly while they're in the bowl with cold water; I start peeling them immediately under some running cold water (or in another large bowl of cold water during droughts - and then I re-use that cold water to make ice cubes, specially marked, to use the next time I need an ice water bath). ;o) P.S. I don't know the science of it; the only effect of altitude of which I'm aware is that it takes much longer - 5 minutes or so -- at higher elevations. Also, not sure what your actual elevation is. There's a large variation in "high altitude" in Colorado!

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