Tough shells can turn a perfectly boiled egg into a shredded mess. Shells stick to the eggs and peel off the delectable white if the egg is too fresh or boiled improperly. Boiling gently in hot water and cooling quickly can help simplify the peeling process, but the best way to ensure your boiled eggs will peel nicely is to buy them well in advance of boiling. Farm fresh eggs may make the best omelettes or scrambled eggs, but they aren't the best choice for boiling.
Select eggs seven to 10 days old for boiling to help ease peeling. Fresh eggs are more likely to stick to the shell because there isn't as much air within the shell.
Place the eggs in a single layer in a pot. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by 3 to 4 inches.
Set the pot on the stove and bring the water to a full boil over medium-high heat. Place a lid on the pot and turn off the heat. Move the pot off the burner and let medium eggs sit in the hot water for nine minutes or leave extra-large eggs for 15 minutes so they finish cooking. Cooking off the heat prevents overcooked eggs, which become rubbery and difficult to peel.
Set the pot in the sink and pour cold running water over the eggs so they cool quickly. Cooling quickly prevents overcooking and makes the eggs shrink inside the shell, which makes them easier to peel.
Roll the eggs on the counter to crack them all over, or tap the shell lightly against a hard surface while rotating it so it cracks all over. Peel under cold running water, beginning at the wide end. Peel promptly after cooling so each egg peels nicely.