The never-ending fight over the perfect boiled egg

An article published today in Science Daily has a semi-rant about science communication through cooking. In the end, the article comes down to how to cook the perfect boiled egg – a subject long argued over various kitchen counters. A new method that ignores cooking time and focuses on temperature is emerging: the 6X°C egg.

While I’m still managing soft-boiling – 4.5 minutes in boiling water seems about right – chefs are moving on to specialized temperatures. Each chef has his own opinion on the exact degree, but cooking an egg somewhere between 60 and 65 °C for several hours (it doesn’t matter exactly) is now thought to produce the ‘best’ boiled egg. A single food scientist, César Vega, is speaking out about the ridiculousness of the idea, calling it “nonsense”. He argues cooking time depends on both time and temperature.

The real question is not of time or temperature, but of who out there cares? Vega, and the author of the aforementioned article, argue that cooking can be used to show scientific principals in a fun and understandable way. Most people cook everyday, meaning most people are engaging in a form of chemistry. (Although in my case, I doubt proficiency in cooking directly translates to proficiency in synthesis.)

So should chemistry and home ec. team up? I think so. From various demos I’ve done, the ones involving edibles are always the most popular, especially with younger age groups. So why not have courses explaining how yeast causes dough to rise or why egg whites can be whipped into stiff peaks? Maybe some chemical research can settle the perfectly boiled egg argument once and for all.

One thought on “The never-ending fight over the perfect boiled egg

  1. I guess it is a great world we leave on when some people can dedicate so much brain power and resources on the quest to find the perfect boiled egg… 🙂

    I myself believe I have the right protocol for the perfect soft-boiled egg. I’ll share it:
    1- Find a reasonable sized free-range egg
    2- Place it at 4C O.N. (can be left for longer)
    3- Forget to set the alarm (Note: This is VERY important)
    3- Wake up, realise you’re late and start swearing (insert bad-word at lib.)
    4- Put some water in a pan, while putting your pants and brushing your hair
    5- Once the water is boiling put your egg in (still cold!) and ad lib some bad words for the scalding water that fell on your hand
    6- Quickly go and check your email, your favourite general news online paper, your favourite sport online paper.
    7- Again, realise how incredibly late you are and take the egg out before your usual 6 min of boiling time are over.
    8- Be surprised at how perfect your egg is!!!

    addendum: based on previous timings of email and online paper checking I estimate the egg boiled for 4’15″…

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