Can you boil eggs for too long? (3 Indicators)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you boil eggs for too long? We will discuss the elaborate procedure for boiling eggs with the preferred texture and taste. We will also discuss the chemical and structural changes that occur when you boil eggs for too long.

Can you boil eggs for too long?

Currently, 69% of eggs produced in the United States is con-sumed as a shell egg and 31% as the processed egg (6).

You can boil eggs for too long and eat them. Eggs that were boiled for too long may not seem appetizing but are perfectly safe to eat. 

Boiling eggs for too long will make the egg white rubbery and the yolk green. The yolk becomes dry and chalky and boiled eggs can be hard to eat.

The green yolk is evidence of formation of iron sulfide at the interface between the yolk and the egg white due to a reaction of iron (from the yolk) and hydrogen sulfide (from the egg white) with overcooking. This color adversely affects consumer acceptance of this valued egg product (2). 

A noticeable difference in texture and taste appears when you boil eggs for long. Eggs boiled for too long also develop an ammonia-like odor due to the formation of hydrogen sulfide compounds.  As egg white proteins denature and partially decompose during cooking sulfur and hydrogen are released and rapidly unite to form hydrogen sulfide gas (3).

How long should you boil your eggs?

The length of time it takes to boil your eggs is a minimum of 4 minutes to the highest of 15 minutes. The longer the eggs cook, the harder they become as the proteins change their structure, congeal and then stiffen. 

However, there are no benefits that a certain degree of boiling eggs hold over the other. Eggs must be cooked to 165 Fahrenheit to be safe and free from salmonella. 

However, studies showed that some, but not all cooking methods will inactivate Salmonella and the bacteria was only totally eliminated from infected eggs after a cooking period of 12 minutes. Cooking studies showed. Cooking eggs for approximately 12 minutes in boiling water is effective in eliminating Salmonella, should it be present (1).

Let us look at the time span you need to cook your eggs for to get the taste and texture that you like;

If you desire a soft-boiled egg, then you need only 4 minutes to let the egg cook.

 If you like hard and dried boiled eggs, then let the eggs cook for 15 minutes.

If you cook the eggs for less than five minutes, your eggs will be runny and soft. After you exceed the five-minute benchmark, the white will be firm and the yolk starts to set.

After 10 minutes, the egg yolk starts to set but remains soft until you cook for 15 minutes, which is when the yolk becomes crumbly and dry.

 After you boil the egg, put them in cold water to shock them. When you do so, it makes it easier for you to remove the shell.

According to the USDA, Many cooking methods can be used to cook eggs safely including poaching, hard cooking, scrambling, frying and baking. However, eggs must be cooked thoroughly until yolks are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (7). 

What are some things to watch out for when you boil eggs?

  • Before you begin boiling

Before you boil eggs, make sure to assess the eggs for cracks. Also, try using old eggs rather than fresh ones because fresh eggs can be harder to peel.

 Also, if you want to boil a few eggs, you must not crowd them together in a small pot, as that can affect the time it takes for the eggs to boil. The eggs must be sparsely added and not stacked one at the top of the other.

When you fill the pan with water, cover it up for an inch higher at the top. If you use too little water, the eggs will not cook evenly while excess water will make it harder for the egg to cook on time. 

  • After you begin boiling

Turn the flame on and let the water come to a boil. After it starts to boil, turn the heat off. Let the egg sit for 15 to 20 minutes in the hot water and then drain.

It is important to watch the time that the eggs boil. Overboiling the eggs can cause a green layer on the egg yolk as a chemical reaction occurs between iron in yolk and white and sulfur. The longer the egg is boiled for the stronger the bond is. 

  • After the eggs have been boiled

Bring the eggs to room temperature by washing them in cold water or putting them in an ice bath. This step is important to halt the carry-over cooking process. As you get rid of the residual heat in the egg, you prevent the egg from boiling further. 

 Boiled eggs are nutritious, cook quickly, and are versatile. They are enjoyed on their own with a hint of pepper and salt or as part of a recipe. Some recipes to try are sandwiches, pasta, casseroles, submerged, and grain bowls. 

The proteins and Omega 3 Fatty acids promote brain health. Omega 3 in eggs also reduces triglyceride levels in the blood. The DHA content of the animal milk, meat, poultry and eggs can be increased by giving an omega-3 fatty acid rich diet to the animals and chicken. Eggs of chicken fed with flax or microalgae have been shown to be loaded with DHA (100-150 mg DHA/egg) (4).

Eggs contain all the amino acids that are required to synthesize protein, according to the FDA. It also has vitamin D and Choline. Vitamin D contributes to calcium absorption and protects against bone diseases (5).

Other FAQs about Eggs that you may be interested in.

6 ways to preserve eggs

Are Egg Whites Vegetarian?

What can you substitute for eggs?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you boil eggs for too long? We discussed the elaborate procedure for boiling eggs with the preferred texture and taste. We also discussed the chemical and structural changes that occur when you boil eggs for too long.

Citations

  1. Davis, Alexis Larrisa, et al. Validation of cooking methods using shell eggs inoculated with Salmonella serotypes Enteritidis and Heidelberg. Poultry sci, 2008, 87, 1637-1642.
  2. Shahbaz, Hafiz Muhammad, et al. Application of high pressure processing for prevention of greenish-gray yolks and improvement of safety and shelf-life of hard-cooked peeled eggs. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol, 2018, 45, 10-17.
  3. Sheldon, B. W., and H. R. Kimsey Jr. The effects of cooking methods on the chemical, physical, and sensory properties of hard-cooked eggs. Poultry Sci, 1985, 64, 84-92.
  4. Singh, Meharban. Essential fatty acids, DHA and human brain. Ind J Pediatr, 2005, 72, 239-242.
  5. Réhault-Godbert, Sophie, Nicolas Guyot, and Yves Nys. The golden egg: nutritional value, bioactivities, and emerging benefits for human health. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 684.
  6. Huang, X., and Dong U. Ahn. How can the value and use of egg yolk be increased?. J food sci, 2019, 84, 205-212.
  7. Shell eggs from farm to table. The US Department of Agriculture. 2019.