by Johanna Hicks
Happy Spring and Easter from our Staff
It’s spring – – the season to enjoy the great outdoors and to celebrate special occasions like Easter, Mother’s Day, and graduation. While eggs are used all year, they are especially popular for many spring and summertime activities. They are used for cooking festive delights and for decorating and hiding just before the big Easter egg hunt.
Eggs are perishable and need to be handled properly to prevent foodborne illness. There are many cute decorating ideas on Pinterest and Facebook, but be cautious when using alternate methods of dying eggs. Some methods may render the egg inedible, while others are perfectly safe. So if you plan to actually eat the decorated hard-cooked eggs, you might want to stick with the traditional food coloring and save the cute designer egg ideas for decorating.
Here’s what you can do to have a safe and egg-cellent spring!
- Clean up, clean up…Clean hands are key! Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after food handling. Beware of cross-contamination. Foodborne illness can occur when kitchen equipment is not thoroughly washed between uses. Always wash food contact surfaces and cooking equipment in hot water and soap.
- Cook and keep cool…Refrigeration slows bacterial growth, so it’s important to refrigerate eggs and egg-containing foods. Your refrigerator should be at 40°F or below. Remember the 2-hour rule: don’t leave perishables out at room temperature for more than two hours. The temperature danger zone for perishable foods is 40° to 140°F. If the temperature is over 90 degrees outside and you are having a picnic, perishables should be refrigerated or cooled within one hour.
- Tasting is tempting, but licking a spoon or tasting raw cookie dough from a mixing bowl can be risky. Bacteria could be lurking in the raw eggs, so resist the temptation!
- Easter egg Hunt know-how…Only use eggs that have been refrigerated, and discard eggs that are cracked or dirty.
- When cooking eggs, place a single layer of eggs in a saucepan. Add water to at least one inch above the eggs. (You may also add a little vinegar to keep the eggs from cracking prematurely.) Cover the pan, bring the water to a boil, and carefully remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs stand 18 minutes for extra-large, 15 minutes for large, or 12 minutes for medium. Immediately run cold water over the eggs. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, place them in an uncovered container in the refrigerator where they can air-dry. When decorating, be sure to use food-grade dyes. It is safe to use commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring, and fruit-drink powders. You may also use juices from veggies, such as red cabbage.
- Hide the eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other potential sources of bacteria. Remember the 2-hour rule, and make sure the “found” eggs are back in the refrigerator or consumed within two hours. Remember that hard-cooked eggs are only safe to eat for one week after cooking.
Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes
There is still time to sign up for the spring series of “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes.” This is a five-lesson series, scheduled to take place on Mondays and Thursdays, April 4, 7, 11, 14, and 18, at the Hopkins County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 1200-B w. Houston, in Sulphur Springs. We will start at 1:30 and end at 3:30.
A $25 fee, payable at the first session, covers all five sessions, materials, refreshments, supplementary items, and door prizes. Please contact my office to sign up – 903-885-3443. Feel free to call if you have questions. This is an excellent research-based series, supported by the American Diabetes Association standards of care.
Topics include nutrition, such as carbohydrate foods and how they affect blood sugar, knowing how many carbs to consume, recognizing foods high and low in carbs, and meal planning. Self-management topics include knowing your numbers, proper method to monitor blood glucose, sick day diabetes management, traveling with diabetes, check-ups – what you need and how often, physical activity, and diabetes medicines.
Remember the power behind the cross.