Easter is coming.
It's nice to see eggs on sale, and I'll bet you stocked up in preparation of egg hunts that you may have at your house. According to the American Egg Board, egg sales surged from a 52-week average of 72.6 million dozen to 105.4 million dozen during Easter week last year.
Dying eggs, hiding them, and using them for Easter decorations is great. However, it can be a food safety concern. If an Easter or other hard-cooked egg has been left unrefrigerated for two hours as a decoration or part of an egg hunt, it should be discarded.
When cooked foods are allowed to stand at room temperature for extended periods of time, potentially harmful bacteria may grow. Thousands of people are sickened by foodborne illness each year and many die unnecessarily. The two-hour rule applies to cooking and egg-dyeing process.
Hard-cooked eggs are easy to prepare and easy to keep safe. Wondering what is the “proper” way to hard cook eggs? This is the recommended method:
1. Place eggs in a saucepan and fill with cold water to one inch above eggs.
2. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil fairly quickly.
3. Turn off the heat or remove the pan from the burner and allow the eggs to stand (covered) for 12 minutes for medium-sized eggs; 15 minutes for large eggs, and 18 minutes for extra large eggs and 21 minutes for jumbo eggs.
4. Run cold water over the eggs or place them in ice water to cool.
5. When eggs have cooled, refrigerate promptly.
When stored in their shell, hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated for up to one week.
If, in cooking, an egg shell cracks, the egg should be eaten, and not dyed.
To simplify the peeling process, tap a hard-cooked egg lightly on the counter, then roll it between the hands to loosen the shell.
Commercial egg dyes are plentiful during the Easter season. The American Egg Board recommends using water warmer than the eggs in the dyeing process, returning newly colored eggs to an egg carton and refrigerating them promptly.
There are many common household ingredients that can also be used as coloring agents such as:
- Sienna Tones: 4 packed cups of red onion skins. Boil for 30 minutes to an hour. Adjust the shade of red from light to rich crimson with amount of skins and soaking time.
- Golden: Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of turmeric to hot water, or boil for more intense color
- Pink: Soak hard-boiled eggs in cranberry or beet juice.
- Violet Blue: Add violet blossoms to hot water and soak overnight. Lighten the mixture with lemon juice to create lavender.
- Blue: Two heads (16 cups) of chopped red cabbage, 2 additional quarts of water and 6 additional tablespoons of white vinegar. Soak overnight for a deep royal blue
- Green: Add 1 teaspoon baking soda to Violet Blue mixture or boil eggs with spinach.
- Lavender: Soak hard-boiled eggs in grape juice
- Pastels: For soft pinks and blues, rub eggshells with blueberries and cranberries.
- Beige: 4 packed cups of yellow onion skins. Boil for 30 minutes to an hour. Adjust the shade of beige with amount of skins and soaking time.
- Rich Brown: Boil eggs in 1 quart of coffee
Page 2 of 2 - If you hide eggs, consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with dirt, pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals. Refrigerate the hidden eggs again after they've been found.
The best practice with Easter eggs is to dye eggs that you can have lots of fun with and then, throw them away rather than consuming them.
For more information on Easter Egg safety, visit the K-State Research and Extension Web Site: www.oznet.ksu.edu/extrapidresponse/ or the American Egg Board.
Contact the McPherson County Extension Office at 620-241-1523, or check our website, www.ksre.ksu.edu