The spring season brings warm, sunny weather and is an excellent time to celebrate special occasions outdoors, including Easter, Passover and graduations.
Although there are many foods that come to mind when I think of spring celebrations, no celebration in my family is complete without eggs. From egg hunts to deviled eggs, the delicious, versatile and inexpensive egg can turn any event into a memorable and fun occasion.
Because eggs are a moist, protein-rich food, they provide the perfect growing conditions for harmful food microorganisms if they are not handled properly. To keep you and your family egg-stra safe during spring celebrations, UGA Extension recommends that you follow these tips:
Keep cooked eggs and egg dishes separate from raw meats, raw poultry and raw eggs to prevent cross-contamination.
Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Hands should be washed before and after food handling and preparation.
Prevent cross-contamination by washing all food contact surfaces and cooking equipment with hot water and soap after each use.
When selecting eggs for cooking and egg hunts, choose only clean, uncracked eggs.
During egg hunts, hide eggs in places that are protected from pets, dirt and other potential sources of bacteria.
Cook scrambled and fried eggs until the yolk and white are firm and there is no visible liquid egg remaining.
To safely prepare your boiled eggs, place a single layer of eggs into a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover eggs by at least one inch. Cover the saucepan, bring the water to a rapid boil and remove from heat. Allow the eggs to stand in the covered pan for 15 minutes. To cool the eggs, immediately run cold water over them and then place in an uncovered container in the refrigerator when cool enough to touch.
Even clean, uncracked eggs can harbor disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella enteritidis. Cookie dough, cake batter and other recipes that use raw eggs should not be tasted before the batter or dough is cooked.
Cheesecakes, lasagna and other egg dishes should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Refrigerate eggs at or below 40 degrees. Place the eggs on a shelf in the refrigerator and not inside the door. Refrigerator thermometers are a great tool to use to monitor the temperature inside your appliance. If you do not have a refrigerator thermometer, you can purchase one from a home goods store for less than $10.
Refrigerate egg dishes and boiled eggs within two hours of cooking. If you will be dyeing the eggs and using them for egg hunts, do not let eggs remain in the danger zone of 40 degrees to 140 degrees for more than two hours.
Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week after cooking.
UGA Extension offers a variety of non-biased, research-based publications and resources on food safety, egg preparation and egg nutrition. If you would like additional information on these topics, please contact me at 478-987-2028 or email@example.com.
Rebecca Creasy is the Houston County Extension agent for food and nutrition and family and consumer sciences.