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Bivins: Cook your eggs this Easter the safe, healthy way

“Here comes Peter Cottontail; Hoppin’ down the bunny trail; Hippity hoppin’, Easter’s on its way.”

That little “song” is running through my mind now, as I remember that most children young and old, are looking forward to the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.

You remember how that goes don’t you? You dye all those eggs, and then hide them outside in the grass, bushes, behind trees and who knows where else. After the hunt is over you then eat the eggs you found, right? No! Wrong! No Way! Nada! Zilch!

Please don’t eat those eggs!

Eggs like most other foods, especially animal products, should be handled carefully to avoid bacterial contamination.   It’s really important to follow these tips to assure your Easter will be a safe and happy one:

• Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs.

• To avoid cross-contamination, you should also wash forks, knives, spoons and all counter tops and other surfaces that touch the eggs with hot soapy water.

• Use plastic eggs to hide and keep the real ones in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.

• Stuff the plastic eggs with edible treats or small toys. Children will love it!

• If you must hide the real eggs, save a few back in the refrigerator to eat later.

• When dying eggs be sure to use only food grade dyes or food colorings.

• Be sure that eggs are completely cooked before coloring or dyeing them.

• After hard-cooking eggs, place in a covered container, whether in shell or peeled, and store immediately in the refrigerator.  Use within 1 week (7days).

• Never leave raw or hard-cooked eggs out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.  If eggs are left out for more than two hours, than eggs should not be eaten- throw them away.

• Remember that hard-cooked eggs are only good for 7 days in the refrigerator if the shell is intact.    

MORE EGG SAFETY TIPS:

1. If you hollow out eggshells by blowing the raw egg through holes in the shell, you could expose yourself to salmonella from raw egg touching your mouth. To be safe, use pasteurized shell eggs. If pasteurized eggs aren’t available, you should sanitize the outside of the egg before it touches your mouth. To do so, wash the egg in hot water and rinse it in a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per half cup of water.

2. If you plan to use the raw eggs you have blown out of their shells, cook and eat them right away.  Egg dishes such as deviled eggs or egg salad should be used within 3 to 4 days.  And Hard-cooked eggs should be eaten within a week (7 days).  Source: USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. Call toll free at 1-888-674-6854.

Here are the basic steps for cooking hard-cooked or hard-boiled eggs.

Prep Time: 1 minute |   cook time: 15-22 minutes | Makes: As many as desired.

What You Need: EGGS

Directions:

1. Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. Remove from burner. Cover pan.

2. Let eggs stand in hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs (12 minutes for medium eggs; 18 minutes for extra-large).

3. Drain immediately and serve warm. Or, cool completely under cold running water or in a bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.

Insider info:

• Hard-cooked, not hard-boiled. Although the cooking water must come to a full boil in this method, the pan is immediately removed from the heat so that the eggs cook gently in the hot water. This produces tender, not rubbery, eggs and minimizes cracking.

• Banish the greenish ring. This harmless but unsightly discoloration that sometimes forms around hard-cooked yolks results from a reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron  in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature.  Our method – cooking eggs in hot, not boiling, water, and then cooling immediately – minimizes this.

• Never try to microwave eggs in shells. Steam builds up too quickly inside and eggs are likely to explode.

• Very fresh eggs can be difficult to peel. To ensure easily peeled eggs, buy and refrigerate them a week to 10 days in advance of cooking. This brief “breather” allows the eggs  time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

• To peel a hard-cooked egg: Hard-cooked eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling.

Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell. Gently tap egg on countertop until shell is finely crackled all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Starting peeling at large end, holding egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.

• Storage time: In the shell, hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated safely up to one week (7 days). Refrigerate in their original carton to prevent odor absorption. Once peeled, eggs should be eaten that day.

• High altitude cooking: It’s almost impossible to hard-cook eggs above 10,000 feet.    

Source: Auburn Cookbook

Remember to keep these egg-ceptional tips in mind when working with eggs. We hope you have a happy, safe and Blessed Easter celebration.