How do you boil an egg correctly? No matter what I do, I can never peel them easily.
This question came from a colleague who buys her eggs fresh from the farmers' market. That is precisely why she has trouble peeling them: The fresher the egg, the harder it will be to peel.
Young eggs are better for applications where you want a compact egg, as in frying and poaching. Older eggs, besides being better candidates for hard-cooking, also are fine for scrambling and using for baking.
Most eggs make it to the market within a few days of being packed. The American Egg Board says that after another week to 10 days, the eggs will be sufficiently aged to peel well.
Once you've got a nice, aged egg, here's how to cook it: Place as many eggs as you would like in a single layer in a saucepan. They should not be packed in too tightly. Cover the eggs with about an inch of cold tap water and place the pan over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pot and remove it from the heat
For eggs whose whites are firm but whose yolks are still a bit creamy, let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 to 15 minutes for extra-large eggs, 10 to 12 minutes for large, 8 to 10 minutes for medium. For fully cooked yolks, add a minute or two.
Because you want to stop the cooking completely after the appointed time has elapsed, cool eggs as quickly as possible. This means taking them out of the hot pan and putting them into a nonmetal vessel. Run cold water over the eggs, changing the water as the eggs warm it up.
When the eggs are cool, tap each one all over on the counter so the surface is crackled. Then start peeling from the wider end, which is where the air cell usually is.
Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food/Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.