Not as simple as some would like to think. How to boil an egg Don't boil eggs straight from the refrigerator, very cold eggs plunged straight into hot water may crack. Always use a timer â trying to guess the timing will not produce good results. Never over-boil eggs â because the yolks will turn black and the eggs texture will be like rubber. If the eggs are very fresh (less than four days old), allow an extra 30 seconds on each timing. Always use a small saucepan â eggs with too much space to career about and crash into one another while they cook are likely to crack. Never have the water fast boiling; a gentle simmer is all they need. Eggs have a pocket at their wide end where air collects and, during the boiling, pressure can build up and cause cracking. A simple way to deal with this is to make a pinprick in the rounded end of the shell, which will allow the steam to escape. Soft-boiled eggs Over the years I have found a method that is both simple and reliable, and the various timings set out here seem to accommodate all tastes. First of all have a small saucepan filled with enough simmering water to cover the eggs by about 1/2 inch. Then quickly but gently lower the eggs into the water, one at a time, using a tablespoon. Now switch the timer on and give the eggs exactly 1 minute's simmering time. Then remove the pan from the heat, put a lid on it and set the timer again, giving the following timings: 6 minutes will produce a soft, fairly liquid yolk and a white that is just set but still quite wobbly. 7 minutes will produce a firmer, more creamy yolk with a white that is competely set. 3 minutes if you like a really soft boiled egg 4 minutes for a white that is just set and a yolk that is creamy 5 minutes for a white and yolk perfectly set, only a little bit squidgy in the centre. Hard-boiled eggs Place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by about Â½ inch. Bring the water up to simmering point, put a timer on for 6 minutes if you like a bit of squidgy in the centre, 7 minutes if you want them cooked through. Then, the most important part is to cool them rapidly under cold running water. Let the cold tap run over them for about 1 minute, then leave them in cold water till they're cool enough to handle â about 2 minutes. Peeling hard-boiled eggs The best way to do this is to first tap the eggs all over to crack the shells, then hold each egg under a slow trickle of running water as you peel the shell off, starting at the wide end. The water will flush off any bits of shell that cling on. Then back they go into cold water until completely cold. If you don't cool the eggs rapidly they will go on cooking and become overcooked.