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Boiling eggs in a kettle is a fast and convenient way to cook them, especially if you don't have access to a full kitchen and proper pans for frying an egg (e.g. hotel room). But usually what happens, is if one of the eggs is weak and breaks, you end up with a big mess (egg stuck to the walls of the kettle) spending more time on cleaning than is spent cooking!

So what is the best method to boil an egg using an electric kettle and avoid the mess of a broken egg?

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I saw a method on instructables that involved tilting the kettle to help the eggs avoid hitting the heating element which would cause a nasty mess - however I don't think that one is a good solution as it could vastly depend on what kettle you are using. I've given the link up top just in case anyone is interested in this method and would like to give it a go but it go me thinking about another idea which would allow the eggs to avoid the heating element at the bottom no matter the position / size.

What you will need:

  • One (or more) egg(s)
  • One electric kettle
  • One tangerine / satsuma / clementine / orange netting (or any other netting that would be a suitable substitute.
  • A piece of string or a small stick (a couple of strands of spaghetti might do the trick)

Now the idea here is we are going to put the egg into the netting and try and suspend it from the top of the kettle, allowing it to bathe in the boiling water while staying clear of the elements at the bottom of the kettle.

  • The string method I would wrap the egg up like a Hershey's Kiss and tie the string around the top of the netting and then tie it to the handle (better if the handle is over the top of the kettle) or even just get it to the right height and shut the lid and the egg netting should remain suspended in there until you think it is time to release it.

  • The spaghetti / stick method would involve leaving the lid open, it will be kind of like making a hammock for the egg. Push the spaghetti though one side of the netting (probably need to bunch up the ends a little) and then placing the egg in the middle of the netting allowing it to rest there (much like a hammock) and you can place the spaghetti across the open kettle allowing the 'hammock' to be suspended in the water and once again, avoid the heating element at the bottom.

Note that using spaghetti may not in practice work. This is because the steam coming from the kettle might cook the spaghetti and make it weak and saggy which is why something else thin and stick like may work in place, or use many spaghetti strands to delay the cooking time.

Something else that I have just thought of after looking around my desk is you could use a mesh pencil pot of something similar to act as a cage which would protect the eggs from the kettle's elements but may present a hazard of itself as it might shake around a lot which could crack the egg. Just a thought.

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MrPhooky answer is good in addressing the issue of shocks on the egg and contact with the heating element, but let me elaborate on another point: sometimes eggs break in boiling water because of the air they contain in a little pocket. The air rapidly expands when heated, the pressure increases, and... boom!

One way to resolve this to not put the egg in the water when it is boiling, but when it is still heating. This way, the pressure will increase slowly and the air will have time to escape via the porous shell (you can actually see little bubbles on the shell).

Another way, is to only use fresh eggs, no more than 4-5 days after being laid. When stored, eggs dry (because the shell is porous again), and the quantity of air inside increases, making it more likely to pop in hot water.

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You can put the egg in a thin plastic bag, the sandwich bag kind, and use that in the net so it stays away from the heating element.

Also, when you get the water with egg(s) to a boil, you can let it stand to cool and the eggs will keep getting harder even when the water is not boiling. This makes the risk of the plastic melting to the heating element smaller.

If you happen to have a pin or a needle you can use it for a small hole in the blunt end of the egg, where the air bubble should be, which in turn makes the risk on breakage smaller, but increases the risk on a little egg coming out in the water. Be careful to only to break the shell, not to go into the egg itself.

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