By Diann Douglas
Easter is this weekend and that means many of you will be dyeing eggs for decoration and egg hunts. These days, there are so many interesting ways to dye and decorate eggs. Keep in mind, each time you handle an egg, it increases the chances of contact with bacteria. This is why it’s important to follow food safety guidelines and keep your Easter eggs from ruining your holiday celebrations.
If you are having an Easter egg hunt, it is best to use plastic eggs and leave the real ones in the refrigerator. There are many food safety issues with using real eggs; it just makes sense to opt for plastic. Real eggs should not be out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours, and if you hide them outside there is the issue of warmer temperatures and the problem of avoiding areas where they may come into contact with pet, wild life, insects and lawn chemicals. So, you can see why it makes better sense to use artificial eggs for outdoor activities.
Whenever you are handling eggs, thoroughly wash your hands each step of the way. Whether you are cooking, cooling or dyeing eggs — wash your hands. If you won’t be coloring your eggs immediately after cooking, store them in their original carton in the refrigerator. Inspect eggs for cracks before and after coloring. All cracked eggs need to be thrown away. If you use cooked eggs for a centerpiece or other decoration, and know they will be at room temperature for a day or two, discard them after use.
While we are on the topic of eggs, here are a few steps on cooking the perfect hard cooked egg. According to the Egg Board, there is a correct way to prepare hard cooked eggs, and it is not boiling. If your eggs have a green ring around the yolk, you have cooked them too long. To cook an egg to perfection, follow these simple steps:
Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Add enough tap water to come at least 1 inch above the eggs.
Cover. Quickly bring the water to a boil and turn off the heat.
If necessary, remove the pan from the burner to prevent further boiling. For hard-cooked eggs, let eggs stand covered in the hot water for 18 minutes for extra large, 15 minutes for large and 12 minutes for medium.
Immediately run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until completely cooled.
To remove the shell, crack it by tapping gently all over.
Roll the egg between your hands to loosen the shell.
Peel, starting at the large end. Hold the egg under running cold water or dip in a bowl of water to help ease the shell off.
For more information on food safety, contact the Madison County Extension Service.
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