Elizabeth S. Reames | 4/22/2005 1:07:23 AM
Many families enjoy dyeing and decorating eggs for Easter. Because eggs are perishable, though, it is necessary to follow food safety precautions, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
The nutritionist offers a number of facts and tips for safe egg handling.
• Buy clean, uncracked eggs from a refrigerated display case at the grocery. Look for a date printed on the carton. This is the "pull" date, which is the last day the eggs can be sold.
• Store eggs in the carton in the refrigerator with the large end up to help maintain quality. Keep them covered to eliminate the absorption of odors from other foods. Fresh eggs will keep in the refrigerator four to five weeks.
• Wash your hands thoroughly before you handle eggs at every step including cooking, cooling and dyeing.
• To hard-cook eggs properly, never boil them. Place eggs in a pot and cover with at least 1 inch of cold water. Bring the water to its boiling point rapidly, but do not boil. Turn off heat and, if necessary, take the pan off the burner to prevent further boiling. Cover and let stand for 15-20 minutes. Rinse immediately with cold water so the shells will be easier to remove and to prevent the greenish coating on the yolk.
• Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their cartons if you won’t be coloring them right after cooking and cooling. Refrigerate them again right after you dye them and after you display them.
• Color only uncracked eggs. If you want to eat your dyed eggs later, use food coloring or specially made food-grade egg dyes dissolved in water that is warmer than the eggs. If any eggs crack during dyeing or while on display, discard them along with any eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours.
• If you hide eggs, consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with dirt, pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.
Never leave eggs in the sun during an Easter egg hunt. Hide them in the shade, and keep the egg hunt short if the eggs are to be eaten. The total time involved in hiding and hunting eggs - the time eggs are out of the refrigerator - should be no more than two hours if eggs are to be eaten. Then the eggs should be promptly refrigerated. Do not eat or store eggs, however, that have cracked shells.
Eggs supply high-quality protein, are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins and contain only 80 calories. Although they are high in cholesterol, with 213 milligrams in one large egg, they are low in saturated fat.
Reames recommends not eating more than four egg yolks a week. She suggests enjoying leftover eggs by making egg salad using mostly the whites. Use three whites to one yolk. Add plenty of diced celery or green pepper and use fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise.
Cholesterol comes only from animal sources like dairy products, egg yolks, meats, poultry and seafood. Vegetables, fruits and grains contain no cholesterol.
"Your diet should consist mostly of whole grains, fruits and vegetables," Reames says, adding, "Enjoy moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products.