how does the egg cooker work?

Micah Cohen

Screenwriter
When you use the Egg Cooker, you put the eggs on the holder, and then use a small measuring cup to put the proper amount of water into the well. The water is then boiled off, cooking the eggs. Usually, it works perfectly.

My question is about the little cup: its graduations show lines going up from the bottom of the cup, the narrower bottom to the wider top. The lines are, bottom to top: 7, 6, 5, 4, etc. So, the fewer eggs you are cooking, it seems, the more water you are using to cook them (because you're filling the cup up to a higher line at the wider part of the cup for "4 eggs" than you are for "6 eggs" which is closer to the narrow bottom of the cup). Why is this?

Sometimes I get a-scared and when I'm cooking 7 eggs I fill the cup to the 6 egg line thinking, "This 7-egg line can not be enough water to cook seven eggs." Sometimes I get crazy and put the water at the -- gulp! -- five cup line. Nevertheless, the eggs are always cooked perfectly, sometimes with a tad of green around the yolk (which is, a little over-done).

Anyway, I just ate a egg
and this occurred to me. Figured the brains at HTF could solve this for me.

MC

Jay H

Senior HTF Member
Would this just be a matter of volume? Not knowing what the inside of the cooker is, normally, when I boil hard boiled eggs, I add enough water to cover the eggs. Now if this contraption has the eggs in a simply water bath with an electric element to heat the water, The more eggs you have in it, the less water you need to cover the eggs and vice versa, the less eggs means the more water you need to fill up the space where there aren't eggs....

Just a guess though...

Jay

MarkHastings

Senior HTF Member
That would be my guess as well. The more eggs you use, the less room will be needed for water.

harryk

Auditioning
seems like a complicated thing to do for an egg

Micah Cohen

Screenwriter
Well, in this egg cooker the eggs do not touch liquid.

They sit on a sort of plastic grid (with round egg-openings) that suspends the eggs slightly above the water well. You pour in a measure of water from the cup, into the well, and then the well heats up, boiling the water and (I guess) "steaming" the eggs till the water is gone. At that point, about 12 minutes or so, the mechanism shuts off automatically, and you're supposed to plunge the eggs (in the grid, for easy handling) into cold water, etc.

I'm wondering how the mechanism knows how much water is in the well (just a sort of concave hot plate), and how come you apparently use less water in the well the more eggs you cook (as measured in the little water cup, with its more-egg graduations going up the cup from narrow bottom to wide top)?

Just seems weird to me.

But then, what doesn't?

MC

Marc S Kessler

Stunt Coordinator
Got one, use it and love it. Eggs are always perfect.

Kevin Hewell

Senior HTF Member

Micah Cohen

Screenwriter
Is that an insult? I'm trying to concentrate here...

MC

BrianW

Senior HTF Member
It's an interesting problem. I congratulate you on your curiosity. Here's my take on the problem:

The way I understand it, the heat from the steam is being transferred to the eggs as the steam passes over them, and then the steam (along with the heat it carries) is allowed to escape. So with the escaping heat, this is not a closed conduction system like a conventional oven, which cooks twelve cookies just as fast (and just as slow) as it cooks one.

I think the answer lies in the fact that the eggs, presumably cold at the beginning of the process, would necessarily cause some of this steam to condense back into liquid and drip back into the reservoir, thereby preventing some of the heat from escaping as steam. The more eggs you have, the more cold surface area there is for water to condense and drip back into the reservoir, which increases the number of thermal transfer cycles each water molecule must endure before it is allowed finally to escape with its unit of heat.

So the more eggs you have, the more "thermal bang for your buck" you get per water molecule, since the water molecules must now make an increased number of thermal heat-transfer round trips from the burner to the egg's surface before they finally have the energy to escape. Therefore, less water is required with increasing numbers of eggs.

Micah Cohen

Screenwriter
... Wow. Huh. Amazing, really.

So, I should not, as I sometimes do, let the eggs come down from c-c-chilly refrigerator temp closer to "room temp" before starting the machine?

Doing that would, if what you say is true (and it sounds just complex enough to me for me to regard it as such), would ruin my eggs!

Huh.

MC

Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
It works just like the "Mr. Tea" machine from the old Saturday Night Live skit.

"All you need is a cup, a tea bag and boiling hot water . . . and Mister Tea does the rest!"

Jay H

Senior HTF Member
Micah, does the machine have a perculator like steam release system??? Perhaps the unit is sealed (vacuum) with a pressure release system so the eggs not only use heat to cook, but pressure too (unlike your basic "stick eggs in a 2 lt pan and cover and boil).

Don't forget one can use pressure to cook food too, not just heat. Has to do with thermodynamics and P=VrT law I believe (whatever the name for that is). I believe this is how tunafish is cooked, via pressure once the tuna is packaged in those little aluminum cans....

So I think it still has to do with volume with more volume of eggs, the less water the unit needs to steam and pressurize or so...

Need a physicist here!

Jay

ChristopherDAC

Senior HTF Member
"Pressure cookers" don't cook with pressure. They cook with heat, like everything else. The important fact is, however, that the boiling point of water (as with virtually everything else) rises with increasing pressure. At sea level, the boiling water you put in your tea is going to be 212 degrees Fahrenheit ; at the top of Mount Everest, only about 120, and it's pretty disappointing. By the same effect, liquid water in a pressure cooker, a tin can, or some other sealed container, can be raised to quite high temperatures, 300 degrees or more, without boiling. The result is powerful cooking action. At the extreme, the water in a Pressurized Water Reactor nuclear core can be 600 degrees or higher and liquid.

Not a physicist, but working toward a degree in mechanical engineering, so I eat and drink thermodynamics.

Micah Cohen

Screenwriter
I play one on TeeVee.

No, it's not a "percolator" system. (Do you want to know about my coffee- making travails? I'll start a new thread. Suffice to say, stove-top plus thermal carafe makes coffee that puts "Starbucks" to shame.)

The Egg Cooker has a lid, the dome top, but the top is vented. Steam shoots out of the hole, like a tea kettle.

MC

BrianW

Senior HTF Member
That's the Ideal Gas Law, and if the egg cooker is pressurized, then it follows that the more eggs you have (taking up volume), the less water you would need to achieve and maintain the required pressure.

So if it turns out that the egg cooker is pressurized, you win!

BrianW

Senior HTF Member
I need to learn to type faster. Christopher and Micah slipped theirs in while I was trying to find a good Ideal Gas Law link. Sorry, didn't mean to be redundant.
So the cooker isn't pressurized? Hey! That means I win!

So what do I win?

Micah Cohen

Screenwriter
You guys are cracking me up. (Pun intended... Eggs, cracked... get it? Right.)

Did we figure out why the Egg Cooker uses (it seems) less water per more eggs being cooked? I can't recall.

Or was that String Theory? Or, was the String Theory about the white stuff in the eggs? Was someone else talking about that?

What is going on?

Happy Holidays, everyone!

MC

BrianW

Senior HTF Member
I don't know if we solved the problem, Micah, but we have a couple of good theories. (The steam could be venting at higher than atmospheric pressure, so Jay's theory is still in the running, I'd say.) I'd have to get an egg cooker and conduct some experiments before knowing for sure.

The same goes for Santa Claus. But I might need two egg cookers for that experiment. (One would serve as the control sample in the Santa experiment, as you have probably already guessed.)
Same to you Micah, and to everyone else! Thanks for giving us something fun to think about, and for helping to keep our brains alert during the eggnog onslaught!

Heh. I said "EGGnog".

MarkHastings

Senior HTF Member
Q: How does the egg cooker work?
A: Magic

It's a Festivus Miracle!

Jay H

Senior HTF Member
Maybe this is a job for Mythbusters!!!!

I bet that egg cooker is a lot more complicated than the 16-cup rice cooker that I bought for my parents... I think the solution is to stop making eggs and start making rice!

Jay