Make sure holiday egg recipes are safe

Richard Bogren, Reames, Elizabeth S.

News Release Distributed 12/21/10

Make sure your holiday treats such as eggnog, cream pies and other dishes containing eggs are safe to eat, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. Eating raw or undercooked eggs is a risk for foodborne illness. The same is true for lightly cooked eggs and egg dishes.

“It is important for the cooking temperature of eggs and egg dishes 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 two hours, including preparation time. This includes pies containing eggs – pumpkin, custard, cream pies and pecan. These pies and 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. “Tasting cookie or cake batter can be tempting, but remember, bacteria could be lurking in those uncooked eggs,” Reames says.

You can make homemade eggnog and ice cream safely by using a cooked base, she says. Heat the egg-milk mixture gently to 160 degrees, using a food thermometer to check the temperature. When it’s ready, 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 another recipe ingredient, such as lime juice or melted chocolate,” she says. Warm the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 160 degrees. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.

“Make sure the mixture doesn’t exceed 160 degrees, or the results may be ‘scrambled eggs,’” Reames warns.

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 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 when measured with a food thermometer in the center, Reames says.

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 of using raw, beaten egg whites, she says.

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, "seven-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.

Rick Bogren

1/4/2011 1:12:14 AM
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