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No, NPR, you can’t peel an egg by blowing into the end

Adding the baking soda
Adding the baking soda

Yesterday, NPR posted several silly “household hints” on Facebook, including one on how to peel a hardboiled egg, including a low-tech video by Tim Ferris explaining it. His theory is that you hard boil the egg in water containing a teaspoon of baking soda and then chill the cooked egg in ice water.

Peeled hard cooked egg

Then, he says, you should be able to pull off a little but of the shell from each end and blow through it. In his video, the egg pops right out.

Facebook exploded with comments, mostly about how NPR is diminishing their brand by publishing lists of silly household hints.

But in the hundreds of comments we scrolled through, no one had tried it. We did.

It Doesn’t Work!

We tried this with two eggs, each probably 1- 2 weeks from the hen, and in neither case could we blow them out of the shell after cooking. They did peel fairly cleanly, though.

We cooked them by briniging them to a slow boil and then turning off the heat, covering them and letting them set for 20 minutes. This is why this is called "hard cooked."

As an egg ages, the pH of the albumen rises and they do not stick to the shell as much, although they may not taste quite a fresh. The tsp of baking soda raises the pH of the cooking water, but it is not clear that this alkalinity affects the pH inside the shell.

However, blowing an egg out of its shell is a parlor trick. You wouldn’t do it for a bunch of eggs to server to guests, of course, and if they peel better, fine. They probably won’t pop out when you blow on the end, though.

Don’t waste your time. Just cook the eggs as we have described and cool them in cold or ice water to get the white to shrink away from the shell.

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