Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hard-Boiled Egg Failures... and Success?

My youngest stepdaughter decided to move in with us back in July (good news!), but she LOVES hard-boiled eggs (bad news - for her, anyway). When she went to boil up a few, I wanted to mention the altitude (she'd been living in Nebraska, aka "sea-level", with her mom), but I kept my mouth shut; maybe she'd have beginner's luck, maybe she knew something I didn't. I just stood back and watched.

Guess what happened?

Failure. Again. That left two of us greatly disappointed.

But I love my (not-so-little-anymore) Samii, and there's nothing I wouldn't do for her, including thinking about stealing my Mom's antique Sunbeam egg-cooker, which shielded me from this issue for so much of my life - lol. (I didn't do it, just thought about it - ha!)

I set out to get it right, once and for all - for Sam...

Without going into too much science, there IS a reason that eggs don't cook the same at high altitudes as at, or near, sea level. Here it is in brief: higher altitude = less sky. Sky = atmospheric pressure. Less pressure = longer cooking time. But 200 degrees is 200 degrees, right? Wrong! The pressure actually plays a role in "pushing" the heat into the object to be heated. (Which is why it takes 20 minutes or longer to cook pasta here - no joke.) With everything else, you just cook it longer, no big deal. So why doesn't longer cooking work with eggs???

I found no specific explanation behind why longer cooking doesn't work with eggs, but we all know that eggs are a very delicate structure. They don't like high heat. They also don't like long cooking times. In fact, eggs don't like being boiled at all! They appear to tolerate it at the times needed at sea-level, but they become a pouty and impossible child (no pun intended!) at the cook times needed at 7,200 feet. And much like a difficult child, when things aren't working out, it's time to try a different method. And that's when I discovered...

...Steamed Eggs!!! (Dramatic, movie-type booming music plays in the distance.)

It turns out that steam isn't affected by altitude (although the time it takes to create steam DOES change). But once you have steam, you have the perfect environment for the best "hard-boiled" eggs you'll ever make - at any altitude. And best of all, it's easy to steam cook eggs!

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