6 ways to make the perfect poached egg

Poaching an egg

We asked readers for their perfect poached egg tips, and got some great responses. Here's the best of them.

1. Crack eggs into a dish first

Audrey Bennett, from Blackpool, says: "Bring a pan of water to the boil. Crack your eggs into a small dish or saucer. Slide the eggs into the boiling water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Leave to cook in the hot water for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Perfect!"

2. Use vinegar

Barbara Coulter, from Ipswich, writes: "I could never cook a good poached egg until I put a few drops of vinegar into the water. Now perfect!"

3. Consider a poach pod

Lots of people manage to cook poached eggs without special equipment, but if you're struggling, Geoff Baker recommends getting a poach pod. He says: "To cook the "perfect poached egg". Buy a poach pod (about £2 from most good kitchen shops.) Place egg in pod. Boil for 5 mins. Perfect."

4 ...or just some cling film

Beryl Thomas, from Flintshire, and Bob Southall, from Wolverhampton, both recommend using cling film to shape your eggs.

Always use fresh eggs, and not straight from the fridge

Beryl writes: "Get a piece of clingfilm about 9 inch square put over the top of a mug and push into the shape of the mug. Crack egg into the clingfilm in the mug. Seal the cling film up at the top by twisting together.

Bring a pan of water to the boil place eggs into the pan on full to medium heat and cook for 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 minutes. Get eggs out of pan and undo cling film bingo perfect poach eggs.

Bob's method is slightly more extravagant with the cling film but otherwise similar:

  1. Tear off about 18 inches of cling film from a roll
  2. Push cling film into a cup so as to form a liner
  3. Crack egg into cup
  4. Gather the cling film together and tie together
  5. Place in boiling water until cooked
  6. Remove and enjoy, no mess, little washing up

5. In a hurry? Try the microwave

Gordon Smith and Chris Jolley both recommend a microwave, which can cook an egg in just half a minute.

Gordon Smith writes: "Cook a poached egg in 30 seconds. Break egg into a ramekin, cover with a small saucer and cook in the microwave for 30 seconds. Let stand for a few moments, if  white is still a bit runny cook a further 10 seconds. All microwave ovens vary somewhat, so on first attempt cook for only 27 seconds and then an extra 4 or 5 seconds until white is just set. Thereafter you will be able to get it right first time."

All microwave ovens vary somewhat

Mrs Chris Jolley of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts, writes: "I was reading your article about how to cook a perfect poached egg. By coincidence I was recently experimenting with that very thing.

I put a small amount of water into a dish, carefully broke an egg into the water and put it into the microwave on high. I found that it took approximately half a minute, but this depends on equipment and personal taste."

6. Make sure the eggs are fresh

John-Hywel Puntan, has the most comprehensive guide to perfect poached eggs, ranging from the type of vinegar to the freshness and temperature of the eggs:

  1. Add a teaspoon of white vinegar to a small saucepan of cold water and bring to boil.
  2. Turn heat off and stir the water to form a swirl, and add the egg, it helps to keep the white intact, rather than it separating.
  3. Place a lid on the saucepan and leave for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Always use fresh eggs, and not straight from the fridge. Room temperature ones are better.
  5. Serve on toast, with some unsaturated spread and sprinkling of pepper.

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