ALL ABOUT EGGS
- Can you give me any buying tips?
- What is the best way to store raw eggs?
- How important is "freshness"?
- Do blood spots indicate a "bad" egg?
- Are the thick, ropey pieces of egg white safe?
- Are eggs the only source of food poisoning bacteria?
- Doesn't cooking destroy bacteria?
- How long should I cook eggs?
- What safety steps should I take for summer picnics?
Can you give me any buying tips?
Eggs are one of the safest animal protein foods. But, despite the best efforts of Mother Nature and the egg industry, eggs are still a perishable food and should be treated accordingly. Because eggs lose quality rapidly at room temperature, buy AA- or A-graded eggs from refrigerated cases only. Then, get them home quickly and refrigerate them immediately. Keep them refrigerated until you're ready to use them. Although only clean, uncracked eggs pass the grading process, breakage can occur once the eggs have been packed and shipped. Discard any eggs that are unclean, cracked, broken or leaking.
What is the best way to store raw eggs?
Unless you seldom open the refrigerator door, it's best to place your eggs on an inside shelf. Repeated opening and closing of the door causes temperature fluctuations and can result in breakage. The egg carton helps keep the eggs from picking up odors and flavors from other foods in your refrigerator and helps prevent the loss of carbon dioxide and moisture from the eggs--a particularly important factor if you have a frost-free refrigerator. Store eggs with the large end up to keep the yolk centered. The oil coating which seals the shell's pores helps to prevent bacteria from entering the egg and reduces moisture loss from the egg. Raw shell eggs refrigerated in their cartons will keep for about 4 to 5 weeks beyond the pack date without significant quality loss. (The pack date is usually a number from 1 to 365 representing the day of the year starting with January 1 as 1 and ending with December 31 as 365.) Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely "spoil". If you keep them long enough, they are more likely to simply dry up! But, don't leave eggs out at room temperature. They'll age more in 1 day at room temperature than they will in 1 week in the refrigerator. Room temperature is also an ideal temperature for bacterial growth.
As an egg ages, the white becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter. These changes do not have any great effect on the nutritional quality of the egg or its functional properties in recipes. Appearance may be affected, though. When poached or fried, the fresher the egg, the more it will hold its shape rather than spreading out in the pan. On the other hand, if you hard cook eggs that are at least 1 week old, you'll find them easier to peel after cooking and cooling than fresher eggs. Of course, the faster you use your eggs, the less time any bacteria which may be present will have to grow and multiply.
Do blood spots indicate a "bad" egg?
If you should happen upon an egg with a blood spot or meat spot, don't be concerned. It's not bacteria. The food poisoning bacteria which may infect eggs are not possible to see with the naked eye. A blood spot is actually caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the hen's oviduct. Both chemically and nutritionally, an egg with a blood spot is entirely fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you like. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots and most never reach the market because they are detected by electronic spotters.
Are the thick, ropey pieces of egg white safe?
These are the chalazae and they are entirely edible. In fact, the more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. These natural parts of the egg albumen do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard.
Are eggs the only source of food poisoning bacteria?
No. While the egg itself may not be contaminated when you buy it, it can become infected from various sources. Some of the bacteria which can infect an egg are widely found in nature and easily spread. Numerous other foods and the kitchen, too, can be a source of these bacteria. So, be sure your hands and equipment, especially countertops, knives and cutting boards, are clean before preparing any food. Thoroughly clean equipment again with hot, soapy water before reusing it for another food.
Doesn't cooking destroy bacteria?
Yes. A temperature of 160°F. will kill almost any bacteria. Egg products are pasteurized by maintaining them at a temperature of 140°F. for 3 1/2 minutes. Even light cooking will begin to destroy bacteria, if they are present.
How long should I cook eggs?
To safely prepare basic egg dishes other than hard-cooked, cook your eggs until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Cook scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Cooking eggs slowly over gentle heat helps to ensure even heat penetration. Once cooked, serve your eggs promptly.
What safety steps should I take for summer picnics?
If you're taking deviled eggs or other perishable foods to a tailgate party or picnic, pack them on ice or commercial coolant in an insulated bag or cooler to keep them cold (40°F. or lower). They'll be kept refrigerator- cold as long as the ice lasts or the coolant remains almost at freezing. Thermal containers can be used to keep hot foods hot (140°F. or higher). When toting raw eggs on outings, leave them in their shells.