Why Jamie Oliver Adds A Pinch Of Salt To The Water When Cooking Boiled Eggs

Making the perfect hard-boiled egg is one of those cooking techniques that is deceptively simple. It's all too easy to make one of the common mistakes, despite the fact that all you really need is water, heat, and an egg. And that's not to mention the misconceptions about the cooking task. For example, some people add a little salt to the water before boiling out of pure habit, while others question if this is an unnecessary step that solely raises sodium levels.

The latter group should be aware, though, that there are some upsides to salting the water. For one, boiling an egg in slightly salty water makes the white cook a little faster, according to The Exploratorium. The salt does raise the boiling point of the water, but once the water is boiling, it is hotter than it would be if unsalted. As a result, the egg cooks a tiny bit faster. 

Of course, since we're talking about very small amounts of salt and short cooking times, the difference isn't that significant. Another reason to salt your water for boiled eggs may be more enticing to home cooks — and it's the one Jamie Oliver cites for his method.

Just a pinch of salt to get started

In a recipe video, Oliver suggests adding a "tiny, tiny pinch of salt" to the water before boiling to balance the small amount of salt inside the egg. He explained that this may help stop the egg from cracking in the water because of osmosis. In case you forgot your middle school science, during osmosis, water passes through a membrane. Egg white is mostly water, so one popular experiment to observe osmosis in action is to carefully dissolve the shell to watch how the egg white goes through the thin membrane just inside the shell. But if we are making boiled eggs, we want to keep the egg as intact as possible!

If the eggshell cracks anyway, the salt may still help prevent leaking due to the more-solidified white, according to The Exploratorium. If you want to give this Oliver-approved trick a try, simply add a small pinch of salt to the water before boiling while following our perfect hard boiled eggs recipe.