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How to Use Grandma’s Vintage Egg Poacher

Poach, Poached Egg, Poaching

Poaching is a method of cooking fragile foods such as eggs, fruits, chicken or seafood in a gently simmering liquid. This simple process keeps the food from drying out, and is a low calorie and healthy alternative to frying.

Back in high school home economics, we were taught to poach eggs by cracking the egg into the center of a swirling vortex of boiling water. As the water swirled around the saucepan, the whites of the egg would eventually wrap around the yolk. In three to four minutes, the egg would be cooked enough to eat. The problem with this method is that the poached egg usually turned into a glutinous, gooey, and unappetizing mess. Here’s a great link showing how one guy tried to poach eggs in this method and ruined several eggs in the process.

Grandma also had problem with poaching eggs using this swirling-vortex-of-boiling water method. Fortunately for her, companies such as Mirro, TACU Co., and Presto introduced cheap aluminum 9 piece egg poaching sets that guaranteed fantastic poached eggs every time. These vintage egg poachers were popular in the 1940s-1960s and consisted of a 1 gallon kettle, lid, a flat rack with five 2.5 inch openings, and five metal cups that fit into the openings. I’ve discovered that many people don’t quite know what these are, with most assuming that it’s used for making steamed custard.

If you run across one of these archaic kitchen tools, snap it up. You’ll be glad you did.

How to use a vintage egg poacher.

1. Fill the kettle with 1-2 inches of water. You can use the waterline inside the kettle as your gauge.

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2. Set the flat rack (with the 5 openings) on top of the kettle. Drop the individual metal egg cups into each opening. Cover and bring to boiling.

3. Spray a bit of Pam in each cup to prevent stickiness. Or, use a smidgeon of butter in each egg cup instead.

4. Crack one egg into each individual cup. Cover, and cook eggs to your preference. Our family prefers 4 minute poached eggs, which leaves the yolk runny and the whites fully cooked. Six minutes is all that’s needed to cook the egg fully.

5. To remove the poached egg from the cup, gently slide out with a teaspoon. The egg will pop out of the cup and can be transferred to a plate.