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Hard-boiled facts about eggs

My mom always used to keep her eggs in a basket on the kitchen counter and I always wondered whether or not this was good or bad. I mean, surely leaving eggs out of the fridge means they will go rotten quicker?


Here are some hard-boiled facts you should know about eggs:

Storing eggs

Eggs should be kept refrigerated, whether in the shell, egg mixtures or prepared egg dishes. In fact, eggs should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and that includes preparation time.

Additionally, eggs should be stored in their original containers to protect against breakage and loss of carbon dioxide, which lowers egg quality. Eggs should also be stored on the middle or lower shelf, rather than in the fridge door.

Rapid growth of bacteria, such as Salmonella, can occur between 4 and 60° C. Using cold temperatures keeps bacteria from growing to large enough numbers to cause illness.

Raw eggs still in their shells can keep up to 3 to 4 weeks without significant quality loss, but if you want to store eggs for longer than that, it's best to beat until blended and pour into sealable freezer containers for storage up to 1 year. Wow, I honestly didn't know that.

To defrost frozen eggs, place them overnight in the refrigerator overnight or run under cold water. Cook them thoroughly and serve them promptly after they’re thawed.


Eggs at room temperature

Some cake recipes call for eggs to be at room temperature before they are combined with creamed butter and sugar. Cold eggs could harden the fat and curdle the batter, which might affect the finished texture. For these recipes, remove eggs from the refrigerator about 20 to 30 minutes before you use them or put them in a bowl of warm water while you assemble other ingredients.

And, although eggs are easiest to separate when cold, whites reach their fullest volume if allowed to stand at room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes before beating. For both creamed cakes and separately beaten whites, it’s only necessary to take the chill off the eggs. They don’t actually have to reach room temperature. For all other recipes, use eggs straight from the refrigerator.


Leftover egg dishes

Proper cooking destroys any bacteria that may have been present before cooking, but a dish may be cross-contaminated after cooking by people, other foods or cooking utensils or equipment. If a dish is contaminated, bacteria will multiply rapidly at temperatures between 4 and 60° C. So, promptly serve eggs and egg-containing dishes after cooking. For buffet service, use ice or freezer packs to keep cold foods cold and food warmers or thermal containers to keep hot foods hot.


Tips for egg dishes

Because egg yolks are a fine growth medium for bacteria, cook them for use in mayonnaise, Hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, chilled soufflés, chiffons, mousses and other recipes calling for raw egg yolks. The following method can be used with any number of yolks.

In a heavy saucepan, stir together the egg yolks and liquid from the recipe (at least 2 tablespoons liquid per yolk). Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the yolk mixture coats a metal spoon with a thin film, bubbles at the edges or reaches 70° C. Immediately place the saucepan in ice water and stir until the yolk mixture is cool. Proceed with the recipe.

Did you know that it's not a good idea to separate whites and yolk using the shells?

Bacteria are so very tiny that, even after washing and sanitizing, it’s possible that some bacteria may remain in the pores of the shell. The shell might also become contaminated from other sources. When you break or separate eggs, it’s best to avoid mixing the yolks and whites with the shells.

Rather than broken shell halves or your hands, use an inexpensive egg separator or a funnel when you separate eggs to help prevent introducing bacteria. Also use a clean utensil to remove any bits of eggshell that fall into an egg mixture and avoid using eggshells to measure other foods.


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