Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

By Christina Raving

It never fails. A person is new to keeping backyard chickens with their daily laid eggs. They love hard boiled eggs, and just know that the freshest eggs will taste so much better than store-bought. So they boil some up right from the hen’s nest. And when it comes to peeling them, to getting at the tastiest eggs they could ever imagine- it’s darn near impossible without utter carnage!

A diagram of the parts of the egg. a, The blastoderm. b, The shell. c, The outer shell membrane. d, The inner shell membrane. e, The air-sac at the large end of the egg. f, The albumin. g, The chalaza. h, The yellow layers of yolk. i, The white layers of yolk. k, The flask-shaped portion of white yolk. l, The vitelliac membrane.

There is a biological reason behind this. When you look at a diagram of the anatomy of an egg, there are two membranes between the shell on the outside and the albumen, or egg white. When an egg is good and fresh, the gas-permeable membranes between the shell and the albumen are tightly adherent to allow the developing embryo to breathe. It takes 7-10 days after laying for the egg to die.

Did you ever notice that all store-bought eggs are easily peeled when they are hard-boiled? That’s because they are all at least two weeks old. I remember an expose long ago of a large grocery chain that had the practice of taking eggs past their stale date, putting them in new cartons, and putting them back out for sale. Even when you buy premium, free-range, organic eggs, they will never have printed on the carton the date they were laid. It will always say, “Date processed”. You simply cannot buy eggs as fresh as your backyard hens can produce for you. And don’t even get me started on the industry definition of “cage free”. My hens roam freely throughout my yard; they’ve never seen a cage in their life!

So forget all those remedies for peeling an egg. Don’t waste vinegar or an ice bath. Simply hold those eggs in your refrigerator for 10 days before hard boiling. You are still going to be ahead of the game in freshness and taste. Then one last technique I would want to impart is to crack then roll them gently on the counter before you peel them. After that, you should have no problem.

How to boil the perfect egg every time:

1. Immerse the eggs in cold water in a pot.
2. Discard any eggs that float to the surface.
3. Cover the pot and bring it just to a rolling boil.
4. Turn off the heat and move the pot to the side.
5. Immediately set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes.
6. At the end of 15 minutes, drain the eggs, peel and eat.



  1. Dorie June 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    How about poaching them instead? Pretty much the same and no shell to peel!

  2. Sharon June 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Glad to know.

  3. Ella Wilson June 13, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    I have tried boiling fresh eggs with vinegar in the water, salt in the water, or using baking soda in the water. Of the three options baking soda was the best method at getting most of the shell off of the freah eggs. But, recently I read an article,on the internet, that said to use steam to get the perfect boiled eggs. So, I brought a vegetable steamer basket. To my surprise steaming has proved to be the best method of all! So, just ask google, you tube, or any search engine “how to use a steamer basket to boil eggs”. You should find information about how much water and how many minutes to steam. Then you’ll be as happy as I am when each fresh egg peels fast and easy.

  4. Molly Duncan June 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    I use the steaming directions found at Simply Recipes. Works perfectly every time.

  5. Nancy Danner June 13, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Well I beg to disagree with the article about hard boiled eggs. I have fought this problem for 54 years and low and behold last month some one ask the very question about hard boiling fresh eggs and Gina sent them to a former news letter for the answer. I went to that news letter and it says to poke a small hole in the egg. Then steam the eggs for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool naturally. They peel like magic!!! I have done this three times in the last month. I use fresh eggs right from the hen house layed that very day and they peel wonderfully. So give it a try, you will be amazed.

  6. Louise June 14, 2017 at 5:19 am

    I own an electric steamer and I steam all my veges in it, I started steaming my eggs for 10 minutes from cold as I do not have a hotplate. Sometimes the eggs play up on me but 99% of the time they come out perfectly. The beauty of it is I can steam the dozen and put them back into the box and use them as I require them over the next week.

  7. Vicki June 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I also use a steamer. Perfect eggs every time.

  8. Pammy Parsnips June 17, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I can also offer from my research that bringing to boil quickly, boil for 15 mins then plunge into jug of very cold water and put whole jug and eggs in freezer for 15 mins also makes peeling easy regardless of age.

    I’ve taken to pickling a few each week for snacks!! May not last ?

  9. Susan Riley August 14, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    I found in a recipe magazine that if you bring your water to a boil first, then add the eggs. Boil for 15 – 18 minutes depending on the size of the eggs. Remove and put eggs into a bowl of ice water and let cool. They peel like magic! I’ve never had an egg not peel perfectly since using this method.

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