Making eggs is one of the most reliable, simplistic, quick, and easy options for a healthy, protein rich breakfast. We love eggs! They are versatile, tasty and they keep us full. Not only do they make a wonderful breakfast, but nothing beats a boiled egg for a quick and energising snack.
Despite this, boiling an egg can be one of the hardest ways to successfully cook an egg. If you don’t boil it for long enough, it remains runny, if you boil it for too long, it will go dry. To play it safe, a lot of us boil our hard boiled eggs for far too long just to ensure it is fully cooked – unless of course we want them runny for egg soldiers. Today I am going to look at what happens when we overcook our boiled eggs and whether this can cause any problems.
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What happens when you overcook hard boiled eggs?
Overcooking a boiled egg is as simple as leaving it in the water for too long. The water will begin to boil a lot more harshly as it heats up, but it is important to remember that even when the water stops boiling, the egg will continue to cook in warm water and outside of the water before it completely cools to be peeled and eaten.
When you peel the egg, the yolk tends to have a drier texture than if it is hard boiled for the correct amount of time. The whites of the egg also develop a rubbery texture when overcooked and so overall it is less enjoyable to bite into an overcooked boiled egg. Not only this, but the appearance of an overcooked egg will differ from a soft-boiled egg or an egg that has been hard boiled for the correct amount of time.
What does an overcooked egg look like?
It is important to be able to identify when your egg has been overcooked.
When you boil an egg for too long, the outside of the yolk may take on a funny looking grey tinge and it may easily separate from the whites without causing any damage to the egg itself. This is a clear sign that your egg has been cooked for too long.
This green or grey layer around the yolk develops when the iron and sulphur within the egg begin to react with the egg’s surface. This coloured ring is completely harmless, and if you do observe a change in colour around your yolk then you should not worry.
Can you eat overcooked boiled eggs?
Eating overcooked boiled eggs is completely harmless, presuming the eggs used were fresh at the time of boiling. This can be harder to identify as you are not cracking the egg before cooking, so make sure to check the expiry dates.
Alternatively, a lot of eggs are good after their expiry date and so you can test the freshness of your egg by dropping it into a glass of water. If the egg sinks then it is good, and if the egg floats then it is bad.
Many people read that the sulphur content in eggs can make them dangerous as it releases hydrogen sulphide. Despite this, the sulphur levels in an egg are so low that they would have absolutely no effect on humans, let alone a harmful effect.
There are absolutely no records of people becoming ill from an over-boiled egg. The only way in which cooking an egg for too long can harm you, would be if you had an existing allergy preventing you from being able to eat eggs.
Some people do find that overcooked eggs can be harder to swallow and digest. This comes from the texture that develops from overcooking them, and as the protein in the egg becomes harder is it difficult for your body to break it down for digestion.
Do overcooked hard boiled eggs taste different?
Although we have established that overcooking an egg is not harmful, similar to it developing an unpleasant, rubbery, and dry texture, the egg’s flavor can also be impacted.
Whilst the sulphur levels are not harmful, it is high enough to alter the taste and give a sulphur flavor to the egg. You can try and disguise this flavor by topping the eggs with a sauce or seasoning, or alternatively you can use them as part of a larger meal.
It can however be hard to determine if a hardboiled egg is still good to eat or not. Hard Boiled eggs often have a very strong smell anyway, and so it can be hard to notice a change. If you do notice a change in smell, you shouldn’t eat the egg as it will not be an enjoyable experience. If you do not notice any changes in the smell, it is best not to eat a hardboiled egg after about a week post boiling.
How long should you cook an egg to hard boil it?
So, to avoid a bad texture and sulphur taste, ensuring you do not overcook the egg can really make all the difference. Hard boiled eggs should typically be cooked for around 9 minutes. You can cook them for up to 12 minutes if you prefer a harder centre. You can cook them for less if you prefer a softer centre, but to ensure the inside is no longer runny you should boil them for at least 7 minutes.
Of course, this depends on the method. If you are boiling the eggs in cold water and waiting for it to boil then you will need to cook them for longer.
As previously mentioned, eggs will continue to cook within their shell, so consider this when they are being left to cool as it could result in accidental overcooking. To avoid this, you can plunge the eggs straight into cold water when they are done boiling. This will also allow you to peel them sooner and enjoy them!
Finally, eggs come in many different sizes, and the smaller the egg, the quicker it will cook. Consider the size of your eggs before boiling them and take this into account when working out how long you want to cook them for.
Overall, cooking an egg for too long will not cause you any harm despite what you may be told. Overcooking a boiled egg can however lead to a rubbery texture with a dry and chalky centre. Further to this, the strong eggy taste can begin to develop quite a strong sulphur flavor. Overcooked eggs can be harder to swallow and digest due to the texture, but this will not impact your health.
Some key points to remember are to firstly ensure you are not allergic to eggs, and to then make sure your eggs are good. If you are boiling out of date eggs, then it is inevitable that the final product will be inedible.
So, don’t worry if you overcook your boiled eggs, but for the best results you should boil them from anywhere between 7 and 12 minutes depending on the size of the egg and your preference on how soft you would like the middle.
Follow these simple steps and your hard boiled eggs will taste better than ever!