A fine art: Your guide to making and eating perfect Easter eggs

Jim Hillibish

It should be as easy as boiling water, but it’s just as easy to spoil a batch of hard-boiled eggs.

Eggs these days are in every shopping cart, many destined for Easter baskets. We need a perfect boiling job this time. Here is where our first trouble begins, the hated sticking egg shell.

The problem is eggs are moving fast off the shelf, so we’re getting ones fresher than usual. Then you try to peel them and the shell seems Krazy-Glued to the egg. The rule is use your oldest eggs for hard boiling. Older eggshells become more alkaline, which helps separate the shell from the membrane holding it to the white.

The main thing is the air pocket in each egg. It grows larger with age (air penetrates the porous shell). The size of this pocket is the key to popping off a shell cleanly.

Now that we’ve settled that, let’s advance to boiling. Just when you think you’ve got it made, the eggs crack, ruining them for decorating. Temperature shock is the culprit here. The drill:

1. Take eggs out of the fridge for an hour. This chases the chill and reduces the chance of breaking.

2. Don’t drop eggs into boiling water. Cover them with cool water (to 1-inch above them) and place on the burner on high. The pot should be big enough to cushion bumping during boiling. Each bump is a chance for a nasty crack.

3. Cover and heat on high for six minutes or time to reach a boil.

4. Immediately take off heat and move the covered pot to a cool burner. This allows the egg to continue cooking, but it will not overcook, resulting in rubbery whites.

5. Lightly sprinkle the eggs with salt. This will help with peeling. Remove from hot water after 30 minutes.

6. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water for a fast chill. Then dry and place back in egg carton, marked “hard-boiled.” Refrigerate immediately as eggs can spoil quickly at room temperature.

Note that any egg with a cracked shell can be used in recipes (see below). You’ll probably get one or two no matter what you do.

Fast cooling prevents that dreaded greenish ring around the yolks. This is caused by a chemical reaction between the iron in the yolk and the sulfur in the whites. They form green ferrous sulfide and smelly hydrogen sulfide gas.


1. Eggs must be chilled or at room temperature — not hot. Prepare your coloring before removing eggs from the fridge. Cut an empty paper roll into “cups” to hold the eggs for drying.

2. When using food coloring, mix 2 teaspoons food coloring with 2 teaspoons vinegar in a cup large enough for the egg. Add water halfway up. If using commercial dyes, follow package instructions.

3. Dip eggs in colors with a spoon or tongs or use the wire provided with color kits. The more you dip, the brighter the colors.

4. Place the egg on the paper cup to dry, then return to egg carton and refrigerate.


- You can double-dip the egg, half in one color, half in another, for a two-tone effect.

- Marking the egg with crayon creates a design that will repel the dye. This is the classic wax-resist process used to decorate eggs for generations.

- Using brown eggs creates deeper and earthier tones than white.

- Wrap eggs with rubber bands and dye as usual. The areas covered with the bands will not color.

- Drip wax on eggs, then dye. Scrape off wax and re-dye in another color to fill the spaces.

Note: If you use paint or full-strength food coloring on your eggs, do not eat them.


Blown eggs are best for permanent decorations and situations where the egg will be unrefrigerated for hours such as Easter egg hunts. Here’s how:

1. Wash and dry the fresh egg.

2. Make a small hole with a darning needle or large pin at the top and bottom of fresh egg. Blow out the egg into a pan. (Chill for up to two days for cooking.)

3. Dry the shell and color as usual. Store in egg carton. May be reused for many years.


Take a deep breath. Patience is the key.

Crack the shell. Roll the egg between palms to help release the shell from the egg membrane. If the shell sticks, try running it under cold water. The stream can help pop it off.

Don’t forget to run the peeled egg under cold water to remove small bits of shell.


The FDA advises that hard-boiled eggs should not be kept unrefrigerated for more than two hours and should be eaten within a week of cooking. Eggs for travel should be packed in coolers with ice. Do not store in vehicle trunk.

Eggs in lunches should be packed with plastic bags of ice or a frozen drink box.

Egg recipes should be refrigerated and consumed within four days.


What to do with leftover Easter eggs requires recipes. Remember that a chilled egg is easier to slice, but the yolk of a warm one crumbles more easily.

Egg salad

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sour cream

1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 tablespoon sweet relish

2 cup green onions with tops, sliced

Fresh parsley sprigs for garnish, chopped

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate at least three hours. Garnish with parsley. Note: For curried salad, mix in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sweet curry powder.

Chinese eggs

Crack egg all over. Place in a bowl. Cover with hot tea and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Allow to cool about 30 minutes and peel egg. Serve immediately.

Red beet eggs

12 hard-boiled eggs

1 medium onion, sliced

4 cups cooked beets and juice, sliced, canned is fine

1 1/2 cup white vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 teaspoon black pepper corns

Peel eggs and wash. Combine remaining ingredients except for onion and simmer 10 minutes. Sugar should be dissolved.

Allow to cool for three minutes, then pour over eggs and onion. When cool, transfer to air-tight container and refrigerate at least overnight. Shake the container occasionally for an even color. The longer the time, the more pickled the eggs.

Deviled eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

2 tablespoons sour cream or mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon brown mustard

1/2 teaspoon sweet pickle juice

Dash ground black pepper

Dash celery salt

Green olives with pimento, sliced in half


Cut eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks. Add remaining ingredients except olives to yolks and mash with a fork. Mix until smooth.

Spoon yolk mixture back into egg halves and dust with paprika. Place an olive half on top of each. Refrigerate until serving.

The Repository