Eggs have porous shells and should be stored in the cartons they come in, which offer some protection against other food aromas and bacteria. Keep them with the pointed end facing downwards to help slow moisture loss inside the egg.
It’s better to cook eggs gently until they are just cooked rather than boiling them ‘hard’ because hard-cooked eggs are indigestible. I prefer to add eggs to boiling water, rather than starting them in cold and bringing them to the boil, because you can time them more accurately. Choose eggs of the same size (the following timings are for medium eggs, size 6). Have eggs at room temperature because cold eggs are liable to crack when immersed in boiling water. To prevent shells from cracking during cooking, prick the rounded end, where there is a little air-sac, with a dressmaking pin. Lower eggs into a saucepan of gently boiling water and cook gently for 8 minutes for beautifully soft creamy yolks. For slightly more liquidy yolks, cook for 7 minutes, and for firmer, but still not hard yolks, cook for 9 minutes. Very large eggs will need another minute. Once the cooking time is up, pour off the boiling water and run cold tap water over them for several minutes, until they feel completely cool; this stops a grey sulphur ring forming around the yolk. Shell, halve and prepare as instructed in chosen recipe.
Oh, and an important point about shelling – trying to shell fresh eggs is nigh impossible. This is one time when you want eggs at least 5 days old, but it’s better if they are 7–10 days old – they’ll peel like a dream.