I would never recommend pressure cooking something unless this cooking method improves the food or recipe in some way. For example, I didn’t publish a pressure cooker frittata recipe – it takes twice as long as the original, discolors badly, and acquires a rubbery consistency – not an improvement (flans, on the other hand, are divine)!You can imagine my suspicions about making hard-boiled eggs in the pressure cooker, given that there is no time savings.
The real magic of pressure steaming an egg in the pressure cooker is the ability of using FRESH eggs and getting easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs – instead of old, musty 7-10 day old eggs! The result looks better, tastes better and is totally worth pulling out the pressure cooker to do.
An innocent blogger peeled away the mystery by noting a little technical tidbit he uncovered in a book:
Per Jeff Potter in Cooking for Geeeks pg. 183, eggs that are hard boiled commercially are steamed at 7.5 PSI for ease of peeling.
This blogger was great at connecting the dots but not very clear with his
methods so, armed with resident 5-year-old egg-spert Vittorio, lots of eggs and inspiration from online previews of the scientific culinary epitome, Modernist Cuisine, we set out to perform our own experiments.
Even though the pressure cooker was invented at the end of the Renaissance (1679), it’s a cooking appliance that has become a must for any Modernist, or in our case, hip cook!
The style of this “recipe” might be a little different than what you usually find here, since it was heavily inspired by the aforementioned, book. Even the step-by-step photos are not immune, featuring our most beaker-like containers and surgical-looking tongs!
Why are fresh hard boiled eggs so difficult to peel? Eggs have an air cell at the wider end of the egg, between the shell and the white (albumin).
When the egg is freshly laid this air pocket is very small and only located at the bottom – the rest of the white remains in close contact with the shell. If a fresh egg is boiled using conventional cooking methods and peeled, much of the white will come away with the shell in uneven chunks leaving an unattractive hard boiled egg. Culinary experts recommend aging an egg for at least week in the refrigerator prior to boiling to achieve an easy peel.
Aging the egg increases the air pocket to include the areas around the whites creating a distance from the shell that results in an easy peel. Unfortunately, as the egg ages, the size of the air cell at the bottom also increases resulting in a hard boiled egg with a flat area in the whites, reducing the quality of the egg and negatively affecting the color of the yolk.
Pressure Steaming A Fresh Egg
Steaming a fresh egg at low pressure, creates a pressure difference between the exterior of the egg and the air pocket – inflating it and separating the white from the shell. Making a pressure steamed fresh egg, easy to peel.
When we are referring to low pressure we mean 6 to 8 PSI (40 to 55 kPa, or .4 to .55 Bar). Pressure steaming an egg at higher pressure, will result in the cracking of the shell prematurely, causing the whites to ooze out and be immediately cooked as they exit the shell – resulting in an unattractive, but still very usable and easy to peel egg.
Best Bets for Pressure Steamed Eggs
|egg, Marbled Chinese
|Pr. Cook Time
|4 L or larger
- Serves: 1-6
- Serving size: 1 egg
- Calories: 78
- TOTAL Fat: 5.3g
- TOTAL Carbs: 0.6g
- Sugar Carbs: 0.6g
- Sodium: 62mg
- Fiber Carbs: 0g
- Protein: 6.3g
- Cholesterol: 186mg
- 1-6 XL Fresh Egg, chilled (from the refrigerator)
- Fill the pressure cooker with one cup of cold water. Add the steamer basket, or trivet and steamer basket, egg stand (if using) and egg.
- Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
- Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at low pressure (if your pressure cooker does not have this setting, try do a test egg at the pressure cooker setitng it has.
Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached low pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 6 minutes low pressure cooking time.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Normal release - release pressure through the valve.
- Open the pressure cooker and place the egg(s) in a container filled with cold water. Keep the water cool by bringing the container to the sink and running more cold water into the container for 1 more minute, to serve warm, or 3 minutes to cool down completely.
- Tap the two ends and the middle of the egg and peel delicately.
Special Equipment: Heat Proof Egg Stand
Although poaching pans for the pressure cooker are readily available. Egg-stands for pressure steaming eggs are not – they do not exist! We found an Olive Oil Cap (with the plastic insert removed) to be the perfect heat-proof, food-grade egg stand to be used in the pressure cooker.