Addicted to novelty since 2001

How Do You Poach Your Eggs?

I like poached eggs. They’re probably my favourite kind of egg. However, I rarely have them because we don’t own any poaching aids. That is, we just crack the egg into boiling water and hope for the best. This process seems to sacrifice a lot of the egg. Furthermore, you end up with terrifying, chickens-raised-in-a-nuclear-reactor shapes.

Growing up, my family had a dedicated egg poacher. This sizable appliance had an amber-coloured lid, four little egg cups that you had to grease with margarine, and you plugged it into the wall. I tried to search for such a device, but my 8-second attempt proved fruitless.

How do you poach your eggs? Do you have a dedicated pot? Or just one of those poaching inserts?

19 Responses to “How Do You Poach Your Eggs?”

  1. pericat

    I don’t poach eggs, but I’ve watched my mother do it all my life. Not every day, of course, that would be odd.

    Anyway, she uses a pint-sized pan, not a shallow one, just an ordinary (very) small pot. Never seems to lose any egg.

    Never heard of the vinegar addition. Not that that’s saying much.

  2. Lenn Thompson

    The key (along with the vinegar–which IS important and can be replaced with lemon juice if you like) is to not have water that is at a full boil.

    You don’t need to have violently bubbling water…as eggs don’t require much heat to cook.

    If the water is more still…you’ll have a much easier time I think.

  3. Darren

    Wow, thanks for the tips. Keep ’em coming. I’m going to be an expert poacher in no time.

  4. Imo

    that’s wierd -lyns was asking me this exact same question the other day.

  5. Joe

    Swirl the water with a whisk to create a vortex in the middle, drop the egg into that vortex and it should keep its shape until it solidifies. I use vinegar as well (I think this lowers the surface tension of the water so the egg holds together more, but what do I know, I’m a computer scientist by training).

  6. Kyle

    I have egg poachers that my Dad made out of stainless steel pipe. About 3.5″ in diameter and about 3/4″ high with a handle welded onto the top edge. You can buy similar things made of plastic for dirt cheap, I expect, but they can’t beat the coolness of something made by your Dad.

    I don’t use vinegar in the water, but I’m on board with the low boil, not a roiling boil.

  7. old joke

    You steal it from the woods at the dead of night. Seriously, is this implied or what?

  8. Anonymous

    Joe’s got it. Just add a little vinegar and start swirling.

  9. Y.

    I miss those old-style poachers – my mom had one. In fact, she probably still has it.
    Ofcourse foodies snub such devices. ;)
    I’ve tried a microwave poacher with very inconsistent results. (Even though I followed the instructions to the letter every time I used it.)
    I side with many of the above comments, a bit of vinegar, shallow pan, simmering-not-boiling water and slipping the egg in the water from a dish rather than breaking it right into the water. (That’s probably implicit.)

  10. J.

    Several yrs ago, I came across an article on a different technique for poaching eggs but I’ve lost the article.

    It called for briefly dipping the egg in its shell into simmering water, then pulling them out and poaching according to the regular technique.

    It was perfect but I don’t remember the timings. Those machines do not poach; they steam the egg, creating coddled eggs. Poaching requires immersion.

    Doe anyone know the timings?

  11. J.

    I should have known. After researching the source of the above technique, I found it in the Julia Child’s vhs series, How to Cook, no doubt in her book by this name.

    I learned to cook by her Art of Mastering…. in grad school so it is fitting it was one of her “truc” (French for a “tip” or “trick”).

    One should immerse the shelled egg for 15 seconds, remove from water, then break shell and one can put directly into the water (it’s very easy to do) without all those other precautions. Follow regular directions from this point, keeping in water per your preference for runny, etc.

    Another type of egg technique: shirred eggs, which consists of cooking eggs in a ramekin in the over. You can layer with mushrooms, etc., adding cream if you feel decadent.

  12. goldie

    I read this poach egg technique in a Britsh mystery novel:

    * Tear small sheet of plastic wrap.
    * Insert into a cup.
    * Spray with Pam.
    * Brake egg into lined cup.
    * Place chop stick over top of cup.
    * Tie plastic wrap ends together to form small bag
    * Drop into pan of boiling water placing chop stick across rim of pot.
    * Cook egg for desired length.

  13. Donovan

    I’m fascinated by the Britsh mystery novel technique — what book?

  14. Goldie

    Marion Babson the author of short British murder mysteries solved by two elderly actressess, one American and one English, who live in London. Addictive short reads. I can’t remember the title off-hand. But if you go to the libraray and read the jacket covers, it’s the one where the American’s daughter is writing a cook book about stage actor’s favorite receipes.

  15. X

    I never use vinegar or any of the above.

    Get a small bowl and line it with a square of plastic wrap. Crack your egg into the plastic wrap, pull the corners together and pinch them tight.

    Boil your water, drop in your little plastic wrapped eggs, and boom, you’ve got effortless poached eggs!

    You can even season them in the wrap before you boil. Can’t do that with the vinegar method!


    don d. Reply:

    The in the shell process only works if the eggs are at room temp. befor placing them in the water. One must also crack the shell and get water to run under the membrane

  16. Jeremy

    I cannot understand how so many people have such a hard time poaching eggs. Going out and getting special “poaching aids” or trying to do it in plastic wrap and other odd methods. The way i do it is simple and only requires a pot and a burner. Tap a tiny hole in the top of the shell and drop it into water with a splash of vinegar heated to about 140-150 degrees. Take it out after about 30 seconds and drop it in ice water. Then simply crack the shell and drop it back in the water for about 3 or 4 minutes. Pull it out with a slotted spoon and bam you got the perfectly poached egg.

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