Sous vide eggs are one of the things I struggle most with. I've had some really good results and some mediocre results, and I'm not always sure what went wrong. I'm also generally good at making eggs in traditional ways so I tend not to reach for the sous vide machine as much. That said, here's some of the egg-making information I've found to be consistently good.
The first thing to realize is that eggs actually contain three parts and these three parts all cook differently, are best at different temperatures and cook at different speeds. The parts are the yolk, the tight white contained in the membrane, and the loose white outside the membrane. These three parts are why there is so much variability in how you cook eggs, and why the precision control of sous vide can be valuable.
The first question people almost always ask is what they need to put their eggs in to sous vide them.
Most people simply put their eggs into the water bath with no container around them except for the shell. This works well as long as one doesn't break, which could result in your machine getting gummed up and needing a cleaning.
Some people put them in a Ziploc bag just to be safe in case they break.
If you remove the eggs from the shell, you can cook them in mason jars, ramekins, or vacuum bags. You can also put the eggs in plastic wrap, which when heated turns them into almost flower-like shapes.
Because of the three parts of the egg, they are very finicky and even a degree or two can result in a large change in texture. For a great look at egg temperatures I recommend either the Chef Steps online calculator or the Serious Eats Guide to Sous Vide-Style Eggs.
From 130°F to 135°F (54.4°C to 57.2°C) the egg will remain "raw" and if it is held at this temperature for at least 75 to 90 minutes it will be fully pasteurized and safe to eat. It can then safely be used in place of raw eggs in preparations such as mayonnaise, cookie dough, or salad dressings.
The soft boiled or poached range is about 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 62.8°C) and the eggs are cooked for 45 to 60 minutes. For a firmer white without affecting the texture of the yolk the egg can be briefly boiled for 2 to 3 minutes either before or after the sous vide process. This will also help with removing the shell from the eggs.
Eggs cooked at this temperature can be chilled and refrigerator until you need to use them or held at 130°F (54.4°C) without changing the texture.
For a cleaner presentation of poached or soft boiled eggs you can gently crack them into a small bowl and then use a slotted spoon to remove the egg. This will leave the runny loose white behind. The eggs can also be briefly poached in boiling water once they have been removed from the shell for a more traditional poached look.
At 150°F (65.6°C) the yolk begins to firm up until it becomes crumbly around 165°F (73.9°C). Hard boiled eggs start in the middle of this range, though I still prefer to use the traditional boil in a pot method for them.
In this lesson we discussed how to properly sous vide eggs.
Do you know anyone that is struggling with sous vide and would find this information helpful? Why not do them a favor and send them a link to this Exploring Sous Vide email course or get them a printed version of this course!
Thanks again and happy cooking!
Jason Logsdon, Amazing Food Made Easy