I'm having problems with boiling eggs. The egg whites are not hardening and stay soft, but the yolks did set. The eggs I'm using are freshly laid. What can cause this? How can I make sure my egg whites set too?
This is not a real answer, but rather some info to hopefully, help:
Egg whites are 90% water, when they harden, the protein unravels and creates a grid network that does not allow the molecules to slip past each other. If the protein level drops, it might make it harder to set and stay runny.
Egg white proteins go through a phase change (become hard) at a lower temperature than the Yolk by a few degrees, that's how you can have soft-boiled eggs.
If you crack a fresh egg and it sprawls on the dish (as opposed to hold tall), you're looking at an egg from a chicken that didn't eat many insects/larvae. ;) This may be expected as at this time of the year (northern hemisphere) insects aren't very active.
There is a good section in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma that gets into more detail. And perhaps better information regarding the off-season feed.
What intrigues me is what happens in the cooking of an egg already open?
Have you tried doing an egg "poached"? You should be able to see directly the cooking, since it lacks the shell. "In fashion", the egg is cooked by pouring it, without shell, in boiling water, with a flick but delicate. The white should be fully cooked, but the yolk remain raw.
Theoretically, you should see the white cooking, while the yolk not. Please try it and tell us the result.
I never had a cooked yolk and raw whites. Try what I usually do --> put the eggs in water together and wait for 5-10 mins. below is the guideline for boiling eggs. don't wait till the water boils before you put the eggs.
Egg Size Degree of Doneness Time Required Medium Soft-cooked yolk 3 minutes Medium-cooked yolk 5 minutes Hard-cooked yolk 12 minutes
Large Soft-cooked yolk 4 to 5 minutes Medium-cooked yolk 6 minutes Hard-cooked yolk 17 minutes
Extra Large Soft-cooked yolk 5 minutes Medium-cooked yolk 7 to 8 minutes Hard-cooked yolk 19 minutes
Eggs could be too fresh. I just made this mistake and searched for why my eggs were mushy...