Spoiler: They're not always all they're cracked up to be
If you’ve wondered if it’s even worth trying one of the so-called egg hacks in one of those listicles—Change Your Breakfast Game Forever!!! Faster Better Breakfasts Will Be Yours! Calling All Egg Lovers! 67 Egg #Hacks That Will Make Everything (Everything) In Your Life Easier!—your instincts are pretty good. You’re no dope, and neither am I. The tips, which tap away at our kitchen anxieties (snotty-looking poached eggs, hard-boiled eggs torn to pieces in the peeling process, that dastardly gray ring around the yolk), often seem to complicated the very things they’re aiming to simplify, and tend to be dubious at best.
I bought two dozen eggs, clicked through a bunch of those listicles, and took careful notes for you. Here are nine egg hacks—some that work, and some that are plain silly.
How’d it go? This “hack” doesn’t make sense to me. I suppose that using your hand instead of doing all this in a jar helps keep the boiled egg from breaking against the jar’s hard lid, and the water gets under the shell as you shake, making it easier to pull the shell off. Instead, I had a boiled egg with lots of tiny shell fragments still well attached to the egg itself.
Recommended? Nah. Easier just to roll an egg around on the counter, crushing the shell lightly, and then jimmying a spoon under the shell and prying it off.
How’d it go? This went predictably well. All you do is cut an egg in half! The shell doesn’t get on the inside of the egg as I might have suspected, though the white of the egg stuck a bit to the shell when I tried to spoon it out. Such are eggs.
Recommended? Sure, if you’re planning on halving or quartering or mashing up your eggs anyway. And definitely if you’re making a plate of deviled eggs.
How’d it go? Pinch off a bit of shell at the egg’s top and bottom, then blow into one side and catch the egg as it flies out. This is one of those things you just feel sort of silly doing, but it does work. Two things happened: First is that I really hated putting my lips on the eggshell. This may not happen to you, but something about it really grossed me out. Secondly, when I blew into the egg, it made an incredible screaming noise akin to when you blow into a blade of grass. But the egg did indeed pop out, no shell attached.
Recommended? I guess?
How’d it go? This is pretty easy: Boil an egg, sandwich it in cardboard and strap a chopstick to its head. And it works! Three tips: Prick the fat end of the raw eggshell with a pin before boiling to avoid any misshapen boiled eggs, as they won’t make for a pretty heart. Second, don’t press the chopstick down too hard into the boiled egg, since you’ll break the white (I did this twice). Third, try as hard as you can to make the cardboard in a shallow, wide “V” so you don’t end up with something that looks more like a short-eared rabbit than a heart.
Recommended? YES. C’mon. How cute is this? (Though it takes a little practice.)
How’d it go? I shook a little baking soda into the boiling water before adding the egg (it foams a little—don’t be alarmed). Eight minutes later, after rinsing the egg in cold water so I could hold it, the shell slid clean off in two halves with the help of a spoon.
Recommended? Yes! And it’s worth trying, since it doesn’t cost you any extra time (and you certainly have baking soda on hand).
How’d it go? Well, it did poach the egg—just-set white, totally runny yolk. This technique was good in that regard. But I was nervous about cooking the egg in plastic (because chemicals), and these nerves were only furthered by the plastic wrap melting to the rim of my pot at one point. If you’re not skeeved out by heating up plastic and want to try this, you could suspend the bundle from a wooden spoon laid across the top of the pot.
Recommended? No. Too much hot plastic smell for comfort.
How’d it go? The hack’s author gives lots of “helpful” tips, like putting the raw egg in a baggie before getting ready to whirl it around, just in case you’re doing this with kids and fear the worst: “Now if they smack an egg on a tabletop (or their sibling's head), there'll be no mess to clean up (only hurt feelings).”
Okay, guys, this does not work. I did just as I was told, sliding an egg down the leg of a pair of tights and whipping it around as though the egg had been involuntarily signed up for one of those Sling Shot rides at an amusement park (and stretching out a perfectly good pair of tights in the process). Upon boiling it, the egg was not golden; the yolk hadn’t even traveled inside the white or lost any of its shape. It was basically just a traumatized boiled egg. Tasted fine, though.
Recommended: Alas, no. The author also says it took him “four eggs” before he could properly get a golden one, but I say if you can’t get it right the first time, it’s not a hack. Also, why would you spend so much time doing this?
How’d it go? This surprised me. Weird? A little. Bad? Not at all. It’s probably not for folks who are here for buttery, custardy, spoonable scrambled eggs, but for folks who prefer an egg sandwich anyway (or the little crispy egg bits at the edges of a frittata), it’s pretty good—fluffy in texture, but with a definite waffle form. Four eggs was just right for my Cuisinart Belgian waffle maker, and I cooked it on the three mark; be sure to grease it really well, since the egg will likely stick. (But let’s get something straightened out: This is not an omelet.)
Recommended? Yes! Especially for sandwiches. You could even let everyone pick their own fillings—cheese, very finely diced meat or already-cooked vegetables—and dollop them onto individual waffle corners before closing the waffle maker, so everyone gets the egg they want. (And much easier than making a one-egg omelet.)
How’d it go? This is the first time I have successfully made a poached egg! Leave it to Julia Child. Put a whole egg in boiling water for precisely 10 seconds, remove it and let cool until you can hold it, then whirl the water around in your pot of boiling water to make a “funnel” and crack the egg into the center. Fish out with a slotted spoon after two or three minutes and gently blot with a paper towel.