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If i had 2 eggs. 1 i boil in plain water. The other i boil in say a curry sauce. After boiling and peeling, would they taste different to one another?

Do the shells let any flavour through?

  • 2
    Eggs can take on flavours, sometimes it's done deliberately, you can put an egg in a container with garlic or truffle and it will take on the flavour. – user23614 Apr 24 '16 at 9:21
  • I store truffles with eggs and certainly the eggs get flavours from the truffle. I doubt that boiling eggs will get much flavour once the whites start to coagulate... but storing eggs with truffles, vanilla beans or coffee for a period of time will get those flavours inside the egg. – roetnig May 18 '17 at 14:50
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Yes, they will taste different. Egg shells are porous in order to provide oxygen to the developing chick. While the egg is still uncooked, it will take on the tastes of outside ingredients fairly easily. As it cooks, the albumin coagulates and forms chains that prevent moisture and vapor exchange, so it becomes resistant to absorbing outside ingredients. As a result, your egg will pick up more curry taste if it is boiled from raw in the curry sauce than if you boil an already-cooked egg in the sauce.

  • Thanks. Even after only 6 mins or so of boiling? – Dave Haigh Apr 30 '16 at 19:06
  • Certainly. I can always tell the difference if I have boiled eggs in water with vinegar or without, and I don't boil them for even six minutes. Depending on what the egg is being boiled in, it can acquire flavors extremely quickly. Given that curried eggs taste pretty fine, I can't see a problem with the eggs acquiring a gentle curry taste. – Shalryn Apr 30 '16 at 22:20
  • @Shalryn Does boiling with some added vinegar​ to the water improve the taste? How much do you add? White vinegar or apple cider vinegar? – Jamin Grey May 17 '17 at 4:55
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    @Jamin Grey -- Boiling with some vinegar improves the taste somewhat; it takes away any "muddy" taste (that almost-musty aftertaste that sticks in the back of the throat). Where it excels even more is in improving the smell of the boiled eggs. They smell much cleaner and less sulfurous, which is especially desirable in store-bought eggs, as they may be fairly old. I prefer to use non-cider and non-malt vinegars, as they seem to result in a sharper clean taste, but that could be purely psychological perception. My vinegar of choice is a concentrated flavored vinegar called Gurkenmeister. – Shalryn May 18 '17 at 22:20
  • @Shalryn mentioned the flavor that vinegar can impart to an egg. Vinegar, like any acid, also speeds up the coagulation of the white once it’s diffused through the shell. By adding vinegar to the water during a slow poach, you’ll end up with a tighter white while maintaining a runny yolk. – Jon S Apr 3 '18 at 4:14
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I would say it will.

One of the fixtures of 7-11 stores in Taiwan is a slow cooker with boiled eggs. They add large tea bags to the set of eggs when starting the process and the eggs turn out brown all the way though. Longer cook results in a deeper brown color.

I'll add a picture soon.

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The one boiled in curry will taste different. How different will depend on a few factors, time being the main one, temperature, concentration of your curry sauce and its viscosity are other obvious ones. Egg shell is most definitely porous and not just permeable.

There is a lot of misconception about the properties of hard boiled egg white. It may look rubbery and solid, but there is far more water (80% w/w or higher) than protein inside. Thus there is plenty of scope for diffusion into and out of it.

You will most definitely get salt, "protons" (H3O+ or acid) and even bigger molecules diffused into it given time. You can simply put a peeled hard boiled egg on a thin layer of soy-sauce for a hour or more to see how far the colour will travel into the egg white. Even at fair low temperatures in a fridge, the diffusion is unmistakable. This is driven by osmotic pressure, high concentrations of dissolved solids outside and low concentrations inside. If you then put the marinated egg white onto a thin layer of clean water, you will see the water darken as the soy-sauce diffuses out.

The same is true for meat in fact despite claims that marinating is purely a surface treatment and molecules bigger than salt cannot diffuse in. It is only a surface treatment if you are liberal about how deep "surface" is. Similar experiments will confirm that.

A one-dimension Fick's law model does give a reasonable prediction of time required to penetrate a given depth: depth is approximately proportional to the square-root of time. For egg white in the fridge with liquids with high concentrations of dissolved solids like soy-sauce or balsamico or worcester sauce, depth of penetration in centimeters is roughly 0.0004xsqrt(time), time is in seconds. 1 cm takes about an hour. It is a relatively quite a fast process in fact. Obviously, shell-on, the diffusion coefficient will take on a lower overall value, first there is diffusion into the shell, and then from the shell to the white. Different marinades (and whatever your are marinating) will have different coefficients at different temperatures. These values are very easy for anyone to estimate in an everyday kitchen with a ruler and a clock.

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I don't think that boiling an egg in something is enough to flavor the egg. The shell is porous, but not enough that a lot passes through without more time. I have seen recipes that involve boiling, cooling, and warming again in a flavorful liquid. I think the multiple temperature changes would be needed to really add noticeable flavor.

  • It needs quite a lot of time, the higher the temperature, the less time it will take. I can't see how cycling temperatures would help though. – user110084 May 17 '17 at 6:07
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The shells might let the flavor through. Even if they did, at that point, it's too late. Due to temperature exposure, the egg white has changed state from liquidy to rubbery.

Once that egg white has changed to set form, a regular egg boiling session isn't going to change the flavor of a set egg white. The flavors can't penetrate into the set proteins.

Long term methods can be applied to get curry flavor into a hard boiled egg, like this Garlic-Curry Pickled Eggs. But understand there will be a strong vinegar taste as well.

  • Even hard boiled egg white would allow not just salt and acid to diffuse into it, but much larger molecules too. All you need to prove this is by putting a shelled hard boiled egg in a plate of soy-sauce, leave it there even in the fridge for a couple of hours, cut it open and see how far the colour has penetrated the white. In fact, if you do model it on Fick's Law, you see that it has very high diffusion coefficients. As for the shell, it is completely porous. Again, a boiled egg with shell in soy-sauce will prove this. – user110084 May 17 '17 at 6:02

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