Richard Bogren, Reames, Elizabeth S. | 12/4/2009 2:49:53 AM
Make sure your holiday treats containing eggs – such as eggnog, cream pies and similar dishes – are safe to eat, LSU AgCenter experts warn.
“Eating raw or undercooked eggs is a risk for food-borne illness,” says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames. “The same is true for lightly cooked eggs and egg dishes.”
It is important for the cooking temperature to reach 160 degrees to kill bacteria, including Salmonella, Reames says. It's also important not to leave dishes containing eggs at room temperature for more than 2 hours, including preparation time. This includes pies containing eggs – pumpkin, custard, cream pies and pecan pies – which, along with other dishes containing eggs, should be refrigerated
While baking holiday treats such as cookies and gingerbread, avoid licking the spoon or the mixing bowl if the batter contains uncooked eggs, she warns. Tasting cookie or cake batter can be tempting, but bacteria could be lurking in those uncooked eggs.
“Make homemade eggnog and ice cream safely using a cooked base,” Reames says. “Heat the egg-milk mixture gently to 160 degrees, and use a food thermometer to check the temperature. The mixture should coat a metal spoon.”
If you use raw eggs that won’t be cooked in a recipe such as chocolate mousse, make it safe by heating the eggs in another recipe ingredient that’s liquid or melted, such as lime juice or chocolate.
Warm the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees, then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe, she says. And make sure the mixture doesn’t exceed 160 degrees, or the results may be “scrambled eggs.”
“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,” Reames says. “Then combine it with the sweetened condensed milk and pour it into a baked pie crust.”
Baked egg-rich desserts such as custard pies, crème brûlée or molten chocolate cakes also 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, substitute whipped cream or whipped topping instead for raw, beaten egg whites, she says.
“Dry meringue shells, which are baked in the oven, are safe,” Reames says. “Divinity candy also is safe. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites. However, ‘7-minute frosting,’ made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites, is safe.”
The nutritionist advises casseroles, quiches and other dishes containing eggs should all be cooked to 160 degrees as measured with a food thermometer.
Holiday Eggnog – recipe from the U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 (do not boil or scald) .While milk is heating, beat together eggs and salt 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 vanilla.
– Cool quickly by setting the pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for about 10 minutes.
– Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight.
– Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped cream. Then dust with ground nutmeg and enjoy!
Calories: 135 per 1/2 cup
Cholesterol: 120 mg. per 1/2 cup
Yield: 2 quarts
“No, a dash of rum won’t make it safe!” Reames notes, “Adding alcohol cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria.”
Other handling tips for safe desserts made with eggs include:
– 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.
For additional information on holiday food safety, contact the LSU AgCenter office in your parish.