Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
4 Jun

A Quick Guide to Perfect Eggs: 22 Tips for Buying, Storing and Cooking a Primal Favorite

EggPrimal eaters like eggs and eat many of them. What’s not to love? Highly bioavailable protein. Extremely nutrient dense. A good source of fat, including omega-3s if you pick the right type of egg. Versatile; good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It even comes in a tidy little package that travels well. And eggs are inexpensive, especially for the amount of nutrition and enjoyment you get. Yeah, eggs are good. Real good.

We don’t want to squander this precious gift from the feathered gods. So today, I’m giving you my top 22 tips, tricks, and guidelines to make the most of your eggs.

How to know if they’re spoiled. Place your eggs in a bowl of cold water. If they sink, they’re good. If they float, they’ve gone bad. If they start to float but keep one end on the bottom, they’re good but not for long. Also works for determining the guilt of suspected witches.

How to boil eggs to desired doneness. Place eggs in a pot or pan and fill with water until it reaches midway up the eggs. Remove the eggs and set aside. Bring the water to a boil at medium/medium-high heat (4 on a scale of 6). Return the eggs to the now-boiling water and cover the pot. For soft-boiled, remove eggs after 6 minutes 30 seconds. For medium-boiled, remove eggs after 8 minutes. For hard-boiled, remove after 10 minutes. After removing eggs, place under cold running water for at least 30 seconds. Drop the cooking time by 30-45 seconds if your eggs are room temperature.

Softer yolks are better for you than harder yolks. The harder the yolk, the more oxidized cholesterol (which coincidentally may not be huge issue for people who eat just a few eggs occasionally, but the more eggs you eat the more it matters). Softer yolks are just better, period.

How to peel boiled eggs. Tim Ferriss has a nifty trick where he cracks both ends, blows into it, and out pops the egg. I’ve had mixed results with this method, but if it works for you, it’s definitely the quickest way. I prefer to let the egg come to room temperature, either using cool water or time, and roll the eggs along the counter to create a web of mini cracks. This seems to separate the white from the shell and make peeling easier. Also: the fresher the egg, the more difficult it is to peel.

How to “boil” eggs and make them easily pop out of their shells. Use the steam setting on an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, for two minutes (for soft-boiled), three minutes (for medium-boiled), and four minutes (for hard-boiled but not overdone). Place in ice water for a minute and the peel should slip right off.

How to eat boiled eggs. Two ways: kosher salt and kelp powder; or kosher salt, black pepper, and turmeric.

How to cook an omelet. Got 20 seconds, two eggs, and a tablespoon of butter? Do it like Julia Child, the master.

How to cook an omelet stuffed to the gills with several pounds of ingredients. You don’t, unless you like a huge ordeal and leathery eggs. If you want eggs with tons of ingredients, make a scramble.

How to scramble eggs. There are two acceptable ways. First is Gordon Ramsay’s method, which involves lots of whisking, lots of butter, and creme fraiche. Scrambled eggs this way come out soft and slightly wet. Another method is to heat butter (or olive oil) on a stainless steel pan over medium high heat, crack whole eggs into it, and let them cook a bit – as if you were doing sunny side up eggs. Right when the bottom begins to set, go to work with your spatula, chopping and cutting and breaking up the eggs. Scrambling, in other words. As with Ramsay’s method, take the eggs off before they fully cook.

How to fry an egg. Let the pan get hot over medium heat. Don’t rush it. Don’t be impatient. That blue stuff flickering down below the frying pan? That’s pure unadulterated fire. It’s really hot and it won’t be long until the pan is hot, too. If you don’t wait, the egg will stick to the bottom and you’ll have to soak it to get the egg off and the yolk will probably break prematurely and it’ll be a whole thing. Once a drop of water sizzles into nothingness against the surface, add the fat, let it melt. Crack in the eggs. Let a shape start to form, then you have a few options. 1. Drop in a tablespoon of water and cover the pan, steaming the egg. 2. Flip the egg and turn off the heat, letting the pan cook the other side. 3. Turn the heat down and let the egg continue cooking through to the other side. Oh, and the pan should be cast iron and well-seasoned.

How to poach an egg without ruining it. Poaching eggs is annoying, time consuming, and often messy, but you can’t deny that it’s impressive and delicious when you get it right. Forget the swirling vortex, the poaching contraptions, the agony, the heartache; poach your eggs in a mesh strainer. And use the freshest eggs possible.

How to separate the white from the yolk. If I’m short on time, I’ll sometimes pop a few yolks in my mouth raw. I no longer mess around with passing the egg between shell halves (the eggs I buy have shells with strong membranes that make symmetrical halves difficult to achieve). Instead, I just crack the egg into my open hand and let the white slip through my fingers. To get that the chalazae off (the stringy thing that attaches the yolk to the shell), I pinch it between two fingers. Easy.

If you want to get fancy, you could also use an empty plastic water bottle.

How to break an egg. It’s unavoidable. You have to break the egg eventually, but how? There are many methods – one-handed, two-handed, with a knife, against a flat surface, against the edge of a bowl – but the tie that binds them all is this: a single swift smack. You must be confident. You can’t dilly dally and take a halfhearted whack that merely dents the egg and makes the job harder. Take control of the situation. Flick the wrist and “execute it quickly, like with the guillotine.”

How to get broken shells out of a cracked egg. We’ve all spent fruitless hours chasing the wily little devils around the pan with our fingers. It’s like trying to look at an eye floater head on: completely impossible. If you just use a jagged piece of egg shell itself, you can cut right through the white and nab the errant fragment. Like attracts like.

How to use yolks to thicken sauces. Butter and cream make for rich sauces, but my favorite way is to take the sauce off the heat and whisk in two raw yolks. Added viscosity and nutrition.

Spring for pastured eggs. They’re pricey, I know. But they taste so much better than battery-farmed eggs, they’re far more nutritious, and they contain more antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the yolk from oxidation during storage and cooking.

Find pastured eggs on Craigslist. Pastured eggs from the market can be really expensive, and often not that impressive. And some places might not even stock them. You’d be surprised at what you can find by searching Craigslist for eggs.

Look for duck eggs. Don’t give up chicken eggs altogther, but work duck eggs into the mix. If you can get them for the same price per egg, you’ll come out ahead as duck eggs are far richer and larger than chicken eggs. Plus, according to an admittedly biased source (DuckEggs.com), duck eggs are more nutritious than chicken eggs on a gram for gram basis. I suspect that may be an artifact of using battery-farmed chicken eggs rather than pastured eggs in the comparison.

They last longer than you think, even outside the fridge. Eggs are good for a couple months in the fridge. I’ve even left eggs out on my counter for almost a month – not during the heat of summer, but in fairly warm temperatures (~75 ºF) – and they were perfectly fine. Always do the cool water test explained above before tossing them.

Once refrigerated, always refrigerated. If your eggs have been refrigerated, they can’t become counter eggs. Avoid condensation on the shells.

When choosing eggs, look for a carton with a cracked egg. Play around with the broken shell a bit (it’s already broken so no harm, no foul) to see how much give it has. Avoid weak shells, which aren’t just hard to handle without breaking but also indicate nutrient deficiencies or excessive stress in the hen’s life. A cracked egg may even give you a glimpse at the yolk; you want dark, orange yolks whenever possible.

What to do with all the shells. Boil them, bake them, and grind them into calcium carbonate powder. Crush them and feed them to your chickens as a calcium supplement, compost them, or add them to your garden soil as a mineral supplement.

That’s what I’ve got, folks: all my favorite tips for enjoying your eggs to the fullest. What about you? What advice would you give a young man who’s never even kissed an egg?

Thanks for reading!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great article!
    I glanced at the title and thought it was an article on fertility at first.

    Agassi wrote on June 5th, 2014
  2. In our experience our fresh eggs from our organic fed free range chickens are easy to peel when hardboiled. Before we got more birds we got farm fresh but GMO fed from a friend and they were TERRIBLE to peel. The baking soda thing makes me think more neutral eggs peel better, and GMO eggs are acidic and acidic is bad for you….. Hmm more evidence? :)

    Ashley wrote on June 5th, 2014
  3. I often boil 10 -12 eggs at a time so I have snacks ready for when I’m in a rush. Sometimes I forget which eggs are raw and which ones I’ve already boiled. A trick to figure out which ones have already been boiled is to spin the egg on end. If it spins without falling over, it has already been boiled!

    Dr. Adam Kipp wrote on June 5th, 2014
  4. The best method I’ve found for “hard boiling” our fresh-from-our-hens pastured eggs is to place a dozen in a muffin tin with a little bit of water in each cup and bake them in the oven for 30 mins at 320 degrees. Perfect hard-boiled eggs that peel more easily. My husband and I each eat one daily, so I go through hard boiled eggs fast and traditional boiling methods didn’t help with peeling them. This method has been very successful.

    Diane wrote on June 6th, 2014
  5. my daily breakfast, 2 very soft boiled eggs with butter and dukkah, yum!

    claude wrote on June 6th, 2014
  6. Julia Child! Wonderful. I looked up and watched nearly the whole omelette episode. At the end she discussed an omelette party, complete with all the fixins – creamed spinach (???), chicken livers (!), creamed crab or lobster (mmm), cheese. Did some of her creations look funky and a bit gross? Sure, the presentation was not perfect (parsley on everything), but I’m sure it was delicious.

    I attempted to use her method this morning for breakfast, and did not botch it completely. There is hope yet.

    SB wrote on June 6th, 2014
  7. Might be useful to familiarize yourself with the horrific history of the genocide of women-witches-in Europe and America. Not very amusing and further perpetuates the misogyny so prevalent today. Love your work…simply found your comment about witches to be off-putting and inappropriate.

    Deborah Cain wrote on June 6th, 2014
  8. Cook bacon before you cook your eggs. Put eggs/veggies in bacon grease. Enjoy.

    s00paman wrote on June 6th, 2014
  9. You had the right idea with adding boiling water to the eggs, but we never juggle eggs out of the pot, then back into the pot of boiling water. We just bring some water to a boil in another pot (or in our electric kettle), then pour the boiling water over the eggs that are sitting in a pot. Way easier!
    We bring ‘em back to a boil, then let ‘em sit 20 minutes in the hot water. then pour off the water, toss the pan in the air a bit to crack the eggs, then refill the pot with cold water. If you peel ‘em underwater, they come off quite easily.
    That from the New Deli lady who’s been peeling eggs for over 30 years :)

    Jennifer Cote wrote on June 11th, 2014
  10. Hi Mark,

    I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and I’m insulin resistant so I generally try to steer clear of carbs. Eggs form a significant proportion of my diet and I usually consume about 6 per week.

    However, I was recently advised that eggs can hamper weight loss (a goal I am trying to achieve) for those suffering from PCOS. I’ve been unable to find any evidence to support this but do you have any advice on this?

    Eggs are so versatile and delicious so I’d hate to cut them out of my diet! Any advice you could provide would be much appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

    Juliet wrote on June 26th, 2014
  11. Took me a bit to figure out what you meant by “pastured eggs”. A lot of areas refer to these as “eggs from free range chickens”. You might want to include that explanation in your link to “pastured eggs”.

    Bruce wrote on July 23rd, 2014

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