I have to go to an all-day event tomorrow. Earlier in the week, the organizers asked everyone to bring one ingredient that will get tossed together to make a communal salad for lunch. My contribution is a dozen hard boiled eggs, sliced.
I know from past experience that older eggs are easier to peel than fresh ones. If I know that I'm going to be hard boiling them, I try to get the eggs a couple of weeks in advance. Since I didn't have that luxury this time, today I researched the best way to make and peel hard boiled eggs.
According to the American Egg Board, there's a reason that older eggs are easier to peel. There's an air cell, or empty space between the white and the shell at the large end of the egg. As the egg ages, moisture and carbon dioxide leave through the pores of the shell, air enters to replace them, and the air cell becomes larger. Because of the larger air cell, older eggs are easier to peel.
I Googled Hard Boiled Eggs and clicked through to several sites. There was a lot of different advice. Some sites mentioned adding salt to the cooking water. Others said that a splash of vinegar made all the difference, while yet others said that cooling the cooked eggs in cold water would make the peels slip right off.
I decided to try the combination approach (otherwise known as "do them all"). I put the eggs in a pot, added water to cover them, then added a teaspoon of salt and one of vinegar. I boiled the water, removed the pot from the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water the prescribed amount of time. When the eggs were done, I put them in a bowl of ice water and put the bowl in the refrigerator for several hours.
When it came time to peel them, I took the bowl out of the refrigerator, dried off the eggs, and cracked the shells. The first egg wouldn't peel; small pieces of the white came off with each piece of eggshell. The second one wasn't much better-it broke in half as I cracked it on the countertop. I was thinking that all the information on the Internet was wrong!
The next seven, though, peeled like a dream. I started to get cocky, thinking that I had the system down. Big mistake! The next two were almost unpeelable. When I finally got the shells off, they looked like moon rocks, they had so many craters. If I didn't HAVE to have the eggs, I probably would have tossed the whole project. The last egg was pretty obliging, though, slipping its shell off almost in one piece. My serenity returned.
The moral of the story? It doesn't matter how you cook or cool your hard-boiled eggs. They'll do whatever they want to.