Eggs are great, and a good source of protein that is often badly needed for any long-distance hiker. The egg stands in front of many houses out in the country are often my favorite stop along different hiking trails. Here is how to cook fresh eggs while saving both Fuel and Water.
Boiled eggs are a great no-mess way of cooking eggs out in the woods. As frying an egg is often impossible due to the need for fat and an ultralight frying pan. Both items are often not in a hiker’s backpack. But leaving your stove burning for longer results in more fuel loss. With this method, you still can enjoy boiled eggs, while not wasting fuel.
The whole trick of cooking eggs while saving Fuel and water is to use the following steps in the cooking process. Use the following tips next time to cook eggs out on the trail, are to cook your eggs at home!
Give the eggs a scrub
If you plan on reusing the cooking water, then it’s a good idea to give the eggs a bit of cleaning before putting them into the water. Eggs sometimes have some chicken poop over them, and a bit of a wash is therefore recommended when you wanna reuse the water.
Use enough water to completely cover the eggs
It is important for this method to use enough water to completely cover the eggs so that the water has enough mass to hold the temperature for a while. At home, I often cook my eggs in just a bit of water to steam them, this however requires constant heat to keep them cooking for long enough. With this method, you can let the water temperature do its work.
With my pot, an Esbit aluminum cook set, took 400ml of water to completely cover. Test this out in your pot and see what is needed. This is another reason why I prefer to use a bit taller pots, as opposed to wider ones.
Eggs in at the start
Next step to cook eggs while on hiking trips, is to put your eggs in right at the start, so in cold water. In my experience, this helps to prevent them from cracking and gives it just a bit of a headstart to cook longer. Since ultralight pots don’t really retain any heat at all as soon you remove the pot from the heat source. The traditional method of putting them in at the end did not work as well for me and resulted in a bit too snotty of an egg for my taste.
Turn off your burner as soon as you come to a rolling boil
As soon as your water comes to a rolling boil, you can turn off your burner and remove the pot from your stove. You can also leave the pot on the stove if the ground is particularly cold, or if you don’t want to cause scourge marks.
A rolling boil took for me with the MSR Pocket Rocket 2: 2 minutes and 10 seconds.
Rolling boil with the Fancy Feast alcohol stove took 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
With alcohol stoves, use just enough alcohol
This takes practice to get right, but of course, to save fuel you have to have an idea for how much alcohol your stove takes to get a certain amount of water to the boil. You can ballpark it, but a better way if your starting out is to test it out and make markings inside your stove of the fill level. This way you can easily see out in the field how much you should put in. And gets rid of a lot of guesswork. There are other factors at play, such as your elevation and wind factor. But with experience, you can learn to factor that in somewhat.
Alcohol stoves | Let sit for 6 minutes
As alcohol stoves need longer to boil water, the egg gets a bit more of a headstart with this method. As such, leaving it in for 6 minutes off the heat in my testing with my Fancy Feast gave the nicest egg. If you have a more powerful alcohol stove design then you will have to play around a bit to get the best result. But start from six minutes to get a baseline.
Gas canister stove | Let sit for 8 minutes
As a Gas canister or gas stove is more powerful than alcohol stoves, it also takes less time to get to the boiling point. As such, the egg does not get the same headstart as an alcohol stove. In my testing, 8 minutes with the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 did the trick. And gave me a soft-boiled egg while still all the whites being set. The way I prefer my eggs.
Aircool or use a bit of water
Simply take the eggs out of the now-hot water with your Spork, and let them cool for just a minute. If you have water to spare, you can dump out the cooking water, and substitute a bit of cold water to make them alright to handle. For peeling, letting them sit for a minute also helps to get the skin off.
Reuse cooking water for a cup of tea or coffee
When finished with the eggs you can reuse the cooking water for something else, that way you don’t have to waste water. And can enjoy a cup of coffee for example with an egg, just like at home. Do give the eggs a wash before cooking them, however, since floating bits maybe not be something you will enjoy in your coffee.
Typical breakfast while on the West Highland Way, a cup of tea with a boiled egg sandwich.
How do you prefer your eggs? And what’s your stove and the time needed to get your perfect eggs? Let everybody know in the comments!
And be sure to check out my earlier article on How to take eggs hiking!
Happy Hiking and Hike for Purpose!