Sometimes, I’m a little slow to pick up on cause and effect. Let me give you an example. My husband’s family loves deviled eggs, and for years, I’ve been making them by the dozens for different events. A few years ago, I noticed that I was having trouble peeling them. The shells were sticking to the insides, ripping the hard-boiled eggs apart and creating a not-so-attractive side dish for parties.

It never occurred to me that the problem was the type of eggs I was buying. The eggs I buy now are from free-range chickens, and they’re much fresher than the eggs I used to buy from the grocery store. It turns out, the fresher the egg, the more difficult it will be to peel when it’s hard-boiled.

Fine Cooking says this is because the albumen, or the egg white, will stick to the shell of a fresher egg, but as the egg ages, it doesn’t stick as much to the shell. When the water with baking soda passes through the eggshell, it helps the albumen to separate from the shell.

I hadn’t heard this until someone mentioned it on Pinterest, but once I read about it, I decided to give it a try. I took two eggs from the same carton, marked one with an “X,” and put them in two separate pans of cold water. In the pan that held the egg with an "X” on it, I put one teaspoon of baking soda. I placed the pans on the stove, turned the flame up to high, and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the timer went off, I let the eggs sit for three more minutes in the water, and then I removed them and allowed them to cool.

2 peeled, boiled eggs

When I went to peel them, the one that had been in the water with the baking soda peeled with no problem. The other one was difficult to peel smoothly, and it was missing several chunks before I was done. In the photo above, you can see the results: the one on the left, which was boiled in the baking soda water, will make for a better-looking deviled egg, and none of the egg has been wasted because it stuck to the shell.

I was pleased with the results of my experiment, and I’ll be adding baking soda to the water next time I boil eggs. Hopefully, I’ll get the same result.

Do you add baking soda to the water of boiled eggs to help them peel easily, or do you have another trick to share?

Related on MNN: Try this Avocado Baked Egg video recipe

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