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The PERFECT boiled egg + toasted soldiers

how to cook the perfect boiled eggEggs are an excellent start to your day (I hope you appreciate the immense restraint it took to not put a pun in there…) especially for an active day in the outdoors.

The simple and sustainable chicken product boasts plenty of protein and healthy fats, but why is cooking an egg so damn difficult to get right?! There are so many factors at work helping or hindering your perfectly boiled egg; the size and thickness of the pan and the quantity of eggs you will be cooking, the starting temperature of the water or the egg itself, even your height above sea level or the weather!

Don’t panic, by the end of this article you should have the info you need to make perfect eggs (almost) every time...


Cooking tips & factors to consider:

1. Cooking more than one egg at a time means more cool items being placed in the water which can bring the temperature down enough to drastically slow the cooking time. Two eggs doesn’t seem to affect our guideline timings (below) but more than that likely will so add a few more seconds for every extra egg.


2. Be sure to get your water to an active fast boil before adding an egg, if it’s not up to temperature yet it will take longer to cook. Also take in to account the outside air temperature, a chilly wind across the surface of the water can slow the boiling process so you might need to set up a wind break etc.


3. Try not to have too much excess water in the pan, ideally you want just enough to cover the eggs and not an inch more! More water means more heating to be done.


4. If you like a runny truly ‘dunkable’ egg an important step is to cool the egg immediately in cold water for at least 30 seconds to stop the heat in the shell cooking the precious yoke.


5. Cook eggs from room temperature and not chilled from the fridge or cooler. Not only will the cold shell bring down the water temperature as soon as it’s added but the shell is likely to crack from the shock! To make sure my eggs are happy to hit the hot water I allow the shell to pre-warm in the steam for a moment above the pan.


6. Lower your eggs into the water gently with a spoon so you’re not scalded by the steam, and dropping an egg onto the hard pan bottom can crack the shell.


7. If the egg cracks let it finish to hard boiled and save it for egg mayo sandwiches before starting again with a fresh unbroken egg... An egg cracked on entry will leak white into the water making a terrible stringy-foamy mess so you might need to clean the pan before staring again, better to take the steps NOT to crack that shell…


8. Altitude and the weather = barometric pressure. Science says that lower air pressure means a lower boiling point! Not much you can really do about this one but fascinating all the same...


9. Also to consider is where your egg is from - please don’t support caged eggs, and unfortunately what are generally labelled ‘barn eggs’ really aren’t an improvement on the welfare front either. Opt for Soil Association and small local farm producers for the happier chickens allowed to properly Free Range with eggs far superior to anything 'industrially' produced – and in our opinion are the only eggs worth dunking at all! 


10. Get to know your egg pan. Finally, when you make the perfect boiled egg stick to the same pan for the future and take a note of the timing that worked for you. Different metals transfer and lose heat in different ways, as do variances in the thickness of the pan. The following timings are guidelines for cooking the perfect boiled egg or two using camping equipment which means the timings may not work quite the same in heavier pans at home. 


Egg cooking times:

Timings based on using a large enamel mug or small camping saucepan

Soft boiled (mostly cooked white and completely runny yolk): medium sized egg 4 mins, large eggs 5 mins +25 seconds for an extra large!

Medium boiled (fully cooked white with slightly gooey yolk) medium sized egg 5 mins, large egg up to 6 mins.

Hard boiled (for slicing & egg mayo, you can’t ‘soldier’ a hard egg!) Up to 10 mins will do it.


Serve with a teaspoon for getting the top off and scooping, and with a slice of buttered toast cut into the traditional narrow ‘soldiers’, perfect for dunking.


Egg timers

colour changing egg timer - read moreColour changing egg timer – we used a colour changing ‘egg’ for a good while which I liked as it’s more responsive to the actual heat in the pan. The resin ‘egg’ starts out red turning to white from the outside in to represent how far the white is likely to have cooked in your eggs, with written marker points at various stages.

Mine lasted a good few months of almost daily use before it eventually split to the side of the insert, it still worked even with the split but indicated hotter on that side. 

 camping egg carrier - keep them safe!

Set a timer alarm – Just use the standard timer app on your phone. Let’s face it an alarm is every ADHD’ers best friend, I can wander off and get involved in all manner of morning distractions without missing the vital moment to get the egg into cool water! (Still burn my toast though...)


You might also like this egg carrier for transporting your precious cargo into the woods without any breakages!


How do you like your eggs? Leave us a comment below!


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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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