Perfect Poached Eggs

I have tried all the usual tips for making perfect poached eggs; swirling the water and adding vinegar etc. but always seem to end up with a slightly watery, stringy mess. The eggs always taste ok but could look significantly better. When friends come to stay, rather than stress over the outcome, breakfast is always accompanied by fail safe scrambled eggs.

So, even though Heston’s method looked a bit of a faff I decided to give it a go anyway and I was actually pleasantly surprised.

There are two important factors in this method: The egg and the temperature of the water.

The Egg

The egg has to be very fresh. Apparently, the older the egg; the more watery the egg white and watery whites separate into strands when you try to poach them. The way to test the freshness of your egg is to place it in a jug of cold water – fresh eggs sink and older eggs float. This is because a small pocket of air in the end of the egg expands over time causing it to rise up to the top of the water. Older eggs which are in date are still good to eat and can be scrambled or used in omelettes or for baking.

Heston also broke his egg into a draining spoon to ensure that any wateriness drained off before placing it in the water. I only have a slotted spoon and the whole of the egg white slid through so I didn’t bother with that bit.

The Temperature

The water should be heated to 80 ° c and an upturned plate placed in the pan to protect the egg from contact with the residual heat in the pan.

Now you are ready to cook. Place the egg gently in the water, remove the pan from the heat and set a timer for exactly 4 minutes. When the time is up, remove the egg and eat it.

If you have a thermometer and a timer it really is as simple as it sounds and the eggs produced by this method have wonderfully soft, just set whites and the most perfectly runny, rich, yellow yolks.

So next time we have friends to stay?  Well they’ll probably still get scrambled eggs because they are easier to scale up and I am essentially lazy at heart.  But scrambled eggs taste great too…







5 thoughts on “Perfect Poached Eggs

  1. Nice blog Fiona!

    You’re right about the freshness of the egg, that’s the #1 most important thing. Ideally eggs should be picked the day they are laid – you’ll never get good results with supermarket eggs, so try and buy from farm shops if you can!

    When I was working at Mosimann’s Belfry in London, they would cook the poached eggs in an amazing way that I’ll never forget. They would crack half a dozen eggs all into one bowl, then gently slide the whole thing (all 6 eggs!) into a wok of fast boiling water with a little white wine vinegar. You’d expect the eggs to all stick together and form a horrible poached mess, but amazingly they separate and form perfect round poached eggs!

    The “trick” is that the eggs were high quality and laid that morning, so the proteins hadn’t broken down and they stayed as individual eggs in the pan, aided by the vinegar.

    As for the timing, it really depends on the size of the egg, and they do vary in size quite a bit so personally I lift them out with a slotted spoon and gently press to feel how soft the yolk is – it should give a little but not too much, you get a feel for it after a while!

    Give it a try – much simpler than Heston’s 80 degree water bath, and gives great results!

  2. This is amazing! I have resorted to those silicon bra-shaped things to poach my eggs but I shall certainly give Heston’s treatment a go!

  3. just read your blog and thought what a lovely idea,poached egg on toast! I’ve just been sitting out side the hen nest box so i get the freshest egg possible (it was still warm), cooked it up just like you said ……. now Im waiting for the next one to be layed as it was out of this world.

  4. Hi Fiona,

    Met Martin today at the UCP mentor briefing and he told me all about your new venture. The website looks amazing – I love cooking and eating too – so I will be a regular reader. Best of luck.


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