Thursday, April 1, 2010

Keep Salmonella Out of Your Easter Basket or Passover Seder

Are you dyeing hard boiled eggs this weekend for Easter? Did you just celebrate Passover and include a hard boiled egg (Beitzah) on a plate? Eggs have been symbols of life, rebirth and renewal of life since ancient cultures and some include legends that the universe hatched from an egg. Hard boiled eggs are a wonderful fast food and incredibly healthy. At only 75 calories for a large egg, they provide good quality protein, a natural source of vitamin A, C, D and E and many other vitamins and minerals. If hard boiled eggs are refrigerated within two hours of cooking, they can be kept in the refrigerator for a week. Egg cartons today contain packing or sell by dates. It is best to use eggs within 45 days of these dates. If you are planning to hard boil your eggs, eggs that are a few weeks old will be preferable. As eggs age, they lose some of the moisture within the shell and when cooked, the shell will detach from the egg more easily. There’s nothing worse than a hard boiled egg that can’t be peeled! Hard boiled eggs spoil more quickly than fresh eggs, even when refrigerated. This is because fresh eggs have a protective coating, created by the hen’s body. When the eggs are boiled, the protective coating is washed away, leaving bare the pores in the shell for bacteria to enter and contaminate it. Fresh eggs are washed at the factory and sanitized using special detergent that retains this coating. Salmonella is a bacteria that grows in poultry and eggs. According to the Egg Nutrition Center, salmonella is only found in one of every 20,000 eggs but it can cause serious illness, especially in young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Some precautions would include washing hands before and after handling raw eggs, cooking eggs until the whites and yolks are firm and keeping egg mixtures cold until ready to cook. Dyeing Easter eggs does not affect the storage time. If you use eggs for an egg hunt, don’t plan to eat them, unless they were only at room temperature for 2 hours or less. Enjoy your holiday weekend. In my family, dyeing Easter eggs is a tradition that continues, even though my children are old enough to be parents themselves. The eggs get a little more creative and colorful each year. And if we don’t eat them all, that’s OK. After a week of hard boiled eggs, egg salad, and other egg creations, I’m ready to clean out the refrigerator and move on. For more information on eggs go to:

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