Hot Enough to Fry an Egg?

If you live in a hot climate, you begin to wonder if, indeed, it is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. This week, despite the fact that autumn is on the way in most of the country, we were treated to a series of days over 100 degrees. About 109 degrees, in fact.

Plate sprayed with Pam
Plate sprayed with Pam

As a newcomer to the desert, I began to think about the egg and the sidewalk. Not wanting to smear butter on the sidewalk, I chose a plate instead and decided to see what would happen. Turns out it was not a “yes” or “no” question. I hadn’t given it much thought past seeing if the egg cooked. What I didn’t consider is that a slow-cooked egg might look a lot different than one fried in a pan.

I started by spraying a small plate with oil, so the egg would not stick and

Minute 1. Egg on plate
Time: Minute 1. Egg on plate

make a mess. I then cracked an egg onto the plate, sat it on my patio, in direct sun at about noon on a day the temperature reached 109 at 4 p.m. That’s the time of day the air temperature is hottest; I chose noon because the sun was directly overhead.

First the edges of the egg began to crinkle and dry out. That was my biggest surprise. Clearly, the egg wasn’t going to cook like it would on a burner. But I saw the cooking process slowed down–first the edges dried and began to flake.

In the next step, the egg began to expand, as most things do when they get hot. Because the outer membrane of the egg had already “cooked” by drying and shrinking, the yolk broke. Nothing poked it, it simply broke because the expansion was more powerful than the shrinking and drying outer membrane.

Slow-cooking egg breaks the yolk
Slow-cooking egg breaks the yolk

The third step was that the egg slowly began to dry and cook. After two hours I stopped the experiment because some adventurous ants had discovered it, and that is a separate adventure I didn’t want to experience. However, the egg is clearly “cooked” in that it is congealed into a solid mass. Not exactly ready for hash browns and bacon, but that wasn’t the point.

So the answer seems to be, yes you can cook an egg on a plate in the summer. You may not want to eat it, but given enough time in our summer heat, you can get both white and yolk to congeal and harden. Had I stored it in my car, parked in the sun, I’m sure I could have had faster results.

Sun-cooked egg after two hours
Sun-cooked egg after two hours

The temperature in the car was over 170 degrees, which explains how come we put towels over our steering wheels and those funny accordion-pleated shades in the windshield.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and curious about the world around her. Sometimes the edges of the world end at an egg on a plate, sometimes the horizon is a bit farther away. See her work at QuinnCreative.com

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One thought on “Hot Enough to Fry an Egg?

  1. Hmm, if the plate had been put out in the sun an hour earlier to preheat (and it’s a dark color, so that might work)… 🙂

    —Absolutely right. If I’d pre-heated the plate or covered it with another dark plate, it would have cooked up more completely. I completed cooking the egg by putting it in the car, which had been sitting in the sun. That did the trick. It does get toasty out here! -Q

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