I got a lot of e-mails regarding last month’s deviled egg recipes, most in reference to my comment about fresh eggs being easier to peel, and that I let the eggs sit for 15 minutes. I thought the sheer number of e-mails warranted further explanation.
When I wrote “fresh” eggs, I wasn’t referring to straight from under the chicken, I was referring to grocery store-bought eggs. The white, or albumen, in a farm-fresh egg has a low pH level that causes it to bond strongly to the inner shell membrane when cooked, making it difficult to peel. But after a few days the pH increases, making peeling easier. Most supermarket eggs are already three to five days old when they hit the shelves. My research has shown that the ideal egg for peeling is between 5 and 10 days old. Anything older than 10 days becomes harder to peel because the chemical composition deteriorates so that when the egg is boiled you get a rubbery white that adheres to the shell and, even worse, unappealing gummy bits throughout the yoke.
When I hard-boil eggs to eat immediately or to refrigerate for later, I allow the egg to sit for just 11 minutes, but when I’m leaving deviled eggs at room temperature for a party, the last thing I want is undercooked yokes potentially making my guests sick. Letting the eggs sit for 15 minutes ensures that the yoke will be cooked through (anything longer, however, will result in dry, powdery yokes).
Several readers also thought “pastured” was a typo, and that I meant “pasteurized.” In fact, I did mean pastured, which are the only truly humane eggs available in commercial markets. Pastured eggs are from chickens allowed to roam free in the fresh air eating grass and bugs. “Cage free” and “free range” are terms developed by factory farmers to make us feel better about buying their eggs, when in reality most of those chickens spend their lives in small spaces with little to no outdoor time.