Elizabeth S. Reames | 12/18/2007 9:46:10 PM
The holidays abound with tasty treats such as eggnog, cream pies and other dishes containing eggs. Eating raw or undercooked eggs is a risk for foodborne illness, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
“The same is true for lightly cooked eggs and egg dishes,” Reames says, noting that it is important for the cooking temperature to reach 160 degrees to kill bacteria, including salmonella. Also, be sure to refrigerate pies containing eggs, such as pumpkin, custard, cream pies and pecan pies.
While baking holiday treats such as cookies and gingerbread, avoid licking the spoon or the mixing bowl if the batter contains uncooked eggs. Tasting cookie or cake batter can be tempting, but remember bacteria could be lurking in those uncooked eggs.
Make homemade eggnog and ice cream safely using a cooked base. Heat the egg-milk mixture gently to 160 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. The mixture should coat a metal spoon.
To prepare a recipe that contains raw eggs that won’t be cooked, such as chocolate mousse, make it safe by heating the eggs in a liquid or melted ingredient from the recipe, such as lime juice or chocolate. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
“But make sure the mixture doesn’t exceed 160 degrees or the results may be ‘scrambled eggs,’" Reames says.
To make key lime or lemon ice box pie safely, heat the lime (or lemon) juice with the raw egg yolks in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Then add sweetened condensed milk to the mixture and pour it into a baked pie crust.
Baked egg-rich desserts such as custard pies, crème brûlée or molten chocolate cakes should reach 160 degrees in the center when measured with a food thermometer.
Meringue-topped pies are safe if baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. In chiffon pies and fruit whips, use whipped cream or whipped topping instead of raw, beaten egg whites.
Dry meringue shells, which are baked in the oven, are safe. Divinity candy is also safe. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites; however, a "7-minute frosting," made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites, is safe.
Casseroles, quiches and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees as measured with a food thermometer.
“And no, a dash of rum doesn’t make raw egg recipes safe,” Reames warns, explaining, “Adding alcohol cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria.”
The nutritionist offers additional food safety tips for desserts made with eggs:
– Buy only clean, refrigerated eggs with uncracked shells.
– Wash hands, utensils, equipment and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs.
– Don't keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than two hours.
Holiday Eggnog (courtesy of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service)
1 quart of 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Heat milk in large saucepan until hot, but do not scald or boil. While milk is heating, beat eggs and salt together in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugar.
Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while continually stirring.
Transfer the mixture back to the large saucepan and cook on medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens and just coats a spoon. The food thermometer should register 160 degrees. Stir in the vanilla.
Cool the mixture quickly by setting the pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for about 10 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate the mixture until thoroughly chilled – several hours or overnight.
Pour mixture into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped cream. Dust with ground nutmeg and enjoy!
Calories: 135 per 1/2 cup
Cholesterol: 120 mg per 1/2 cup
Yield: 2 quarts
For related nutrition topics, click on the Food and Health link on the LSU AgCenter homepage at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com.
On the Internet: Food Safety Inspection Service: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/.
Contact: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or email@example.com.