This is the time of year when families begin to think of the Easter ritual of dying Easter eggs. It is a fun tradition and the eggs can easily be eaten as a snack, breakfast or added to salad if properly handled before and after staining.
A hard boiled egg has only 80 calories but is rich in many nutrients including protein, phytochemicals, many B-complex vitamins and vitamins A, D and E. If eggs are from chickens fed an omega-3 rich diet , the hatched eggs will also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which we need more of in the American diet. Another nutritional fringe gift egg hatched in 2012 is that they are much lower in cholesterol. Today’s eggs have on average only 180 mg. cholesterol, down from approx. 220 mg. cholesterol in the past years!
Here are ten tips for keeping eggs safe to eat after Easter:
1. When buying your eggs, make sure there are no broken or dirty eggs. The shell keeps the inside of the eggs free of bacteria, and a damaged shell can allow for bacterial contamination.
2. Be sure to check the date stamped on the carton. Avoid buying eggs stamped with a “sell by” date close to the date of purchase.
3. After the purchase, eggs must be immediately refrigerated at 40 ° or below. Avoid placing eggs in the refrigerator door as temperatures will be inconsistent and may not comply with the temperature guidelines.
4. For eggs that are already in your fridge, you can probably use them for both coloring and eating, even if the sale date has already passed. In fact, they can be eaten safely 2-4 weeks after the stamped “sell by” date. If your eggs are typically stored in another container in the refrigerator and you have no idea how long they have been there, it is best to toss them and start with fresh eggs for coloring if you plan on eating them.
5. Consumers should not wash eggshells before cooking hard. When the chicken lays an egg, it has a protective film coating to protect the inside of the egg. Washing the shell can actually remove the protective film and increase the likelihood of bacteria moving into the egg.
6. Cook the eggs thoroughly. For instructions on how to cook a hard-boiled egg, go to: http://www.incredibleegg.org/recipes-and-more/cooking-school/hard-boil-eggs
7. Hard boiled eggs are perishable and must be refrigerated immediately. If they stay at room temperature for more than two hours, they can cause food poisoning.
8. Be sure to use a food-safe dye if you plan to eat your Easter eggs.
9. Do not plan to eat Easter eggs that are placed on the ground. This becomes a perfect recipe for making you sick as the bacteria from the soil can enter the boiled egg. Stick to the plastic version for egg hunting in the garden.
10. If you are saving genuine Easter eggs, choose clean areas to hide them inside your home. Eggs can only be left refrigerated for 2 hours, so keep your egg hunt for up to 2 hours. Easter egg remnants can be eaten within 7 days as long as they are properly handled and refrigerated.
By taking these food safety precautions you can enjoy the fun of coloring eggs along with the benefit of an easy snack or meal after the Easter holidays have passed!