how to peel an egg and other tricks

I’ve come to think that cooking involves a bit of hunger and intuition, mixed with a whole lot of tricks.

I’ve got plenty of hunger, and I want food to satiate it! There were times when I was in college that I lived on power bars and whole grapefruit. That was my lunch–every single day. Now, when I’m hungry, I can taste what I want, and I feel a little nuts until I find it or create it. This kind of hunger just seems to lead straight to cooking.

Intuition is a bit harder to pin down. It’s the sense that you know that two flavors will work together, or an internal timer that dings when it seems that it’s time to check on the roast. It’s also a trust that it will be okay, that you won’t ruin dinner. I think that intuition gets stronger with more time in the kitchen, whether you’re cooking, watching, or eating. My friend, Lissa, is the intuition master, and sometimes I can just breath it in while I hang out and watch her cook. (And yes, it smells like onions and garlic.)

Then, there are the tricks. How do I chop a carrot so that all the pieces are the same size? (You got me–someday I’ll go to culinary school and learn that one.) How do I poach a pear, and keep it submerged in the liquid? (Parchment paper.) What’s the best way to cut up a chicken? (Kitchen scissors!)

Today, let’s talk peeling tricks.

1. How to peel garlic.

Do you know this one? This video wound its way around the internet a little while back, and when I posted it on Facebook, everyone had questions, most importantly,”who has two metal bowls of the same size in their kitchen?” Certainly not I, but you just need two metal bowls of any size, and you’re ready to go. Simple crush the head with your hand (or delicately pull the cloves off the stem). Put the cloves into a metal bowl, fit another metal bowl inside of it, and shake the whole thing while you let out a roar. Somehow the roar helps. This is a great trick if you need a lot of peeled garlic at once.

2. How to peel a soft-skinned fruit.

This is a soft-skinned fruit peeler. It is sharp, and serrated, and friends in my kitchen try to use it on carrots and get frustrated because they think I have a bad peeler.

Oh, no. This is a beautiful thing. And where it really shines is on pears and peaches. This one stays in my apron through canning season.

3. How to peel ginger.

That’s right. With a spoon. Just run the tip of the spoon along the skin, and it comes right off. This one was a game changer around here.

And while we’re on the ginger, find yourself one of these little tools. It’s a ginger grater. It takes out the stringy fibers, and leaves you with perfectly grated ginger, and the juice along the rim. I promise you, it’s worth the drawer space.

4. How to peel an egg.

If you’re eggs are old, and they’ve been sitting on the supermarket shelf for ages, peeling a boiled egg is no challenge.

BUT if the eggs are fresh, good luck! The peel sticks to the egg, and if you’re lucky enough to get a fairly complete egg out of the process, it will be filled with craters, and it will take you far too long to get there. This one has gotten to me for a long time. I’ve known there was a trick out there, I just had to find it!

And so I did.

Put a lemon wedge into the water while you boil the eggs. That’s it. Then, the peel will slide off that egg, no matter how fresh. Magic.

I’m working on growing my list of tricks, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Any kitchen tricks out there? Do tell!




  1. says

    hhaaha, amazing stuff!! Never knew about that serrated peeler and that lemon trick is genius. Perhaps I will make myself some boiled eggs today! :) Thanks for this post. And I just saw your cheese cracker recipe on 101cookbooks and it looked amazing!

  2. says

    I send boiled eggs with my husband to work every single day (his request; strangely he never tires of them even though he doesn’t want the same thing for dinner twice in a month). I got the boiling method down, but occasionally the peeling is maddening. MADDENING. I shall try this post-haste.

    Oh, my boiling: put your eggs in a pan. Cover with cold water by an inch. Turn to high, and when it starts boiling (I’m not talking a rolling boil, I’m talking right when you see the big bubbles coming up), remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes, no longer, then dump the hot water and put the eggs in cold water for five minutes or so. Perfect hard-boiled eggs every time.

  3. says

    That garlic peeling trick changed my life … almost literally, since I work at a cooking school and would spend hours (literally) every week peeling garlic for all our classes. Also good to know is that instead of two bowls you can also use a large tupperware container – or really anything with a lid. For a smaller amount of cloves, even a large jar works well!

    And the ginger/spoon trick is one of my favorites!

  4. parishioner says

    Here’s a virtual hug for telling me what to do for my hard-boiled egg problem! Wow. No kidding, I am so grateful. I almost want to send you my beautiful antique gold-rimmed deviled egg plate out of gratitude, but . . . now I’m going to be using it all the time. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Lissa says

    Thanks for the shout out! It worked that way yesterday in my kitchen: I imagined some flavors coming together and viola(!) curried lentil soup! Perfect…

  6. says

    Darn, I wish I had known about the hard boiled egg trick sooner! Here’s the best tip I have this week: artichokes cut into eighths steam much, much faster than whole artichokes. It’s changed my whole outlook on including artichokes in a quick dinner. (Halve them, scrape out the choke with a spoon or knife, then cut each half into quarters and steam–they take 20, 25 minutes. Amazing!) :)

  7. Karen says

    Love your tricks! Can’t wait to try the egg and the ginger ones. Here’s a few to share back”

    The first two involve smashing- cuz who doesn’t like to smash?
    Garlic: if you don’t have two bowls to use to peel the garlic, place an unpeeled clove – one at a time- on a cutting board. Using a broad blade knife like a Chef’s knife or a Santoku knife, hold the knife so that the largest part of the blade is over the clove and then smash it down hard onto the clove with the heel of your other hand. Instant peel.

    Iceberg Lettuce.: Raise the whole head of the lettuce, stalk side down, over a counter or cutting board, and then smash it down with force, hitting the stem head on. This will remove the stem easily and let you slice or wedge your lettuce in a snap.

    Garlic- Smelling Fingers: rub your garlicy fingers on stainless- your faucet or a spoon, etc, under running water. Better than soap for removing the smell.

  8. says

    My boyfriend didn’t believe the garlic peeling video, so he told me to go try it – and it totally works! And now I need to find something to make that uses a whole head of garlic 😉

  9. says

    Aha! The serrated peeler. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in someone else’s kitchen and they’ve handed me one of those darn things to peel carrots, or even better, a waxed cucumber. I’d think they were playing a cruel trick on me, but I think they really didn’t know any better. Now I do! Thanks!
    And, now that I know what to do with it, I want one.

  10. Ann says

    If only you had posted the egg trick a few weeks ago. It would have made life so much easier during the annual torture event that is peeling all the hard-boiled eggs for the seder.

  11. Beth says

    Thanks for the tips – I’ll try the lemon with the eggs today. Here’s one I find useful: Freeze ginger roots and grate them straight out of the freezer – the peel falls away and the fiber isn’t a problem.

  12. Tanya says

    I feel like I learned the greatest trick ever when I was told to steam them for twenty minutes. Those fresh eggs are a real bugger to peel, but no more! They come right off. I don’t know why this info was so top secret! Now I covet the little ginger tool….

  13. Barb says

    Beth beat me to the frozen ginger tip. It’s one of my favorites too, just stick the whole root in the freezer. Now I can’t wait to get a serrated peeler. Thanks for that info.

  14. megan says

    thanks for the tips – i just hard-boiled eggs for egg salad (a weekly task – we have backyard ckns). fresh eggs are buggers to peel. wish i had seen this trick a few hrs ago, but there is always next time! love my soft fruit peeler too :-)

  15. says

    Thanks for the egg peeling tip! I haven’t made hard boiled eggs since we started raising our own chickens a few years ago. It was just too hard! (It makes you realize how old eggs from the store are!) I’ll have to try this now. My kids will be so happy!

  16. Ellen says

    1/ I’ve never seen this published, but a friend learned it while chopping a mountain of onions for a soup kitchen. Pour vinegar on your cutting board and the gas which makes cutting onions a miserable task will be neutralized.

    2/ I love honeydew melon, but so often it tastes like styrofoam. Decades ago, the Washington Post recommended that a melon showing brown veins on the stem end will be sweetest. Since I stopped buying perfect, smooth green melons – no more tasteless melon!

  17. says

    There’s nothing quite as serene and lovely as a smoothly peeled egg. My trick is to take the boiled eggs, dump out all the hot water, put a lid on the pot and shake the eggs around ’till the shells are well and truly cracked, then fill the pot with cold water and let the eggs cool off. I think this, combined with your lemon trick, may produce eggs that actually peel themselves!

  18. Dwannabe Rhy says

    Garlic…place the clove in the microwave for approx. 10 sec & the peal falls off & it isn’t long enough to cook it.
    Eggs…when you get ready to peel, crack all over & roll between your hands. The shell comes right off.


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