When I occasionally put on a large pot of eggs to hard-boil, I love to watch the water come to a boil. That might seem silly–an octogenarian watching a pot of water come to a boil. But to me it seems so fundamental. It’s one of the miracles of nature that is so common we never think about it at all.
But I think about it. I think of how humans must have first discovered that boil. I use wonderful stainless steel pots. I wonder what kind of containers my ancient ancestors used. I wonder what kind of eggs they cooked, where they came from, how they preserved tem. The whole process is so basic, and it must have taken millennia to perfect–and yet here it is–perfect and simple, on the top of my gas stove, over in minutes.
When the boil first begins, nothing seems to happen. It’s sort of like waiting for your computer to boot up. Then there might come a slight disturbance to the surface of the water. It seems to go smooth, get glassy, and brace itself for something to come. Then minute streams of tiny bubbles begin to rise up from around the side of the eggs. They gradually get larger and larger until bigger bubbles burst to the surface. I know that’s the beginning of the boil. If I keep watching, those large bubbles combine again until they almost disappear and the water begins to roil.
The eggs don’t move around much, although from the turbulence of the water you would expect them to. When they reach that state, I follow Martha Stewart’s advice and turn off the heat, put the cover on the pot, and let it rest for exactly 13 minutes. She and Julia Childs both agree this is the best way to hard-boil eggs. It leaves them without that green ring that surrounds the yolks if you boil them too long. The eggs come out looking perfect, and will keep for quite a while in the fridge before they’re gone.
I think watching water boil is like seeing the story of mankind through aeons of time. Two simple atoms, hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water. I think of how our bodies are mostly water. I wonder how my ancestors discovered the boil, and how they used it. Watching water boil is not simple or silly for me. It is the story of humanity in a pot.
Before I quit, I’d like to leave you with a method of peeling eggs I discovered on the Internet. It is so simple to do it rivals the simplicity of boiling. I have watched Martha Stewart on TV trying to peel a hard-boiled egg. Shs is pretty good at it, but even she can’t pull it off flawlessly every time. My method will take all the stress out of peeling eggs. Are you ready?
Take a mason jar, the half-quart size will do fine, but any reasonably-sized jar will work. Drop the egg into the jar. Half-fill it with water. Put your hand over the top and shake vigorously. Empty out the water, take the egg out and peel it. ,The shell is so perfectly broken that once you start to peel the egg the shell will virtually come off in one piece attached to the membrane that originally surrounded the egg.
The reason it works is that the water is able to penetrate the shell and separate it from the egg itself. It only takes a second, and it’s just another reason why water is so important to life. Try my method. You’ll be amazed at how well it works. Have a good eggy day!