What you see: The white of your hardboiled egg is covered in pockmarks or little bubbly dents.
What is is: An egg with a bubbly air cell!
Eat or toss: Eat! The egg is fine. It just has more character.
Hardboiled eggs with little dimples are OK to eat
Thanks to reader Dawn for sending this image, which she described as a “hardboiled egg with little dimples or pitted areas…almost like cellulite.”
It looks pretty weird, but this egg is entirely safe to eat. It simply has something that, delightfully, IMHO, is considered a “free and bubbly air cell.”
Within each egg is a pocket of air that grows as the egg ages and ambient gases slip in through its pores. Normally the pocket forms at the wide end of the egg and stays there (scroll through this post to see an example of a “normie” hardboiled egg).
But not so in Dawn’s nifty specimen.
Here, the air cell has ruptured into lots of smaller air cells that have run wild around the surface of the egg.
“It looks a little bit like the surface of the moon,” said Deana R. Jones, an egg expert at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Poultry Research Center.
She said that the little air pockets probably bounced around during boiling and then, as the egg white coagulated from a clear liquid to a white solid, they were “frozen” in place.
While Dawn’s egg’s air cell divided into a bunch of little air cells, it’s also possible for a single large air cell to show up in an unexpected part of the egg. We wrote about that phenomenon in this post.
- Deana R. Jones. Research Food Technologist. Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit. U.S. National Poultry Research Center. USDA Agricultural Research Service.
- Large Dimple In Hardboiled Egg. EatOrToss. Sept. 27, 2021.