Those throwing a party or having a picnic may want dishes like deviled eggs or potato salad to accompany the meal. Eggs are great staples for meals and parties, especially in the summer.
Whether it’s a quiche or hard-boiled for dishes like tuna or ham salad, eggs are one of the most versatile foods there is. However, you do need to be careful about serving foods with eggs.
How long can cooked eggs sit out? The rule is to never leave egg dishes unrefrigerated for two hours or more. That rule tightens to one hour when temperatures reach above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, you may be facing illnesses from growing bacteria.
How Long Can Cooked Eggs Sit Out?
The basic rule of thumb is to serve cold egg dishes cold and hot dishes hot. All can be cooked early, refrigerated, and served later but hot dishes must be reheated to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit before going to the table. The maximum time to let cooked eggs sit out is two hours unless they are kept cold with ice or hot in a heated dish.
Bacteria grow during warm temperatures in the range of 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure all your egg dishes are either colder or hotter than that range.
Why Can’t You Let Cooked Eggs Sit Out?
Eggs can contain Salmonella, a bacteria commonly associated with poultry. Some egg producers treat eggs in the shell to destroy Salmonella. Others that do not must list safe handling instructions on the carton.
Salmonella can cause food poisoning, which can make people extremely sick and even cause death. Food poisoning from salmonella is fairly common in the United States. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, and diarrhea and the sickness can last up to seven days.
While most people recover without treatment, some severe cases result in hospitalization as the infection could spread to the bloodstream and then other body parts.
How to Keep Egg Dishes Cold or Hot During Travel?
Ice, gel packs, or hot boxes will keep your egg dishes at the right temperatures if you are taking them to a picnic, to school, or to work.
The simplest method is to put them in a cooler with ice. When serving, you can put the plate or bowl of the egg dish over a second plate or bowl that is filled with ice to sit out longer than two hours.
Frozen gel packs work great for smaller insulated containers that you may use to carry a sandwich or potato salad to work. You can also include a frozen juice box instead of an ice or gel pack to keep food cold.
Hot boxes come in a variety of sizes and a small carrier may be just what you need to keep your egg dish hot during travel. A good hot box is well insulated and air-tight. Some are electric, so you can plug them in when you arrive to keep your casserole or other items hot until ready to serve.
How to Know if Eggs are Cooked Enough?
Eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating. The yolk and white should be firms and casseroles using eggs should reach a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the proper temperature for all poultry.
Some recipes, like ice cream, may include raw eggs. In those cases, use eggs that were treated for Salmonella. They should be pasteurized or go through some other method to assure safety.
How to Know if You are Buying Safe Eggs?
The primary way to know you are buying safe eggs is to only buy them if they are in a refrigerated area. Other tips include:
- Make sure none of the eggs are cracked.
- Store them in the refrigerator as soon as you get home.
- Make sure refrigeration is 40 degrees or lower.
- Keep them in their carton.
- Use them within three weeks.
How Long Can You Store Eggs?
Most cooked eggs should be eaten within three to four days, just like other foods. However, hard-boiled eggs can be eaten a week after cooking and it doesn’t matter whether they are peeled or in the shell.
You Can Freeze Eggs
Most people don’t realize you can freeze eggs and keep them for up to a year. That’s a good way to buy them on sale and keep them on hand. Follow these rules:
- Never freeze them in their shells.
- Break the eggs and beat the yolks and whites together, and put them in an airtight container for freezing.
- You can also freeze egg whites separately to use in recipes without yolks.
Nutritional Benefits of Eggs
Eggs are highly nutritious with loads of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Most don’t realize the egg white is highly nutritional by itself. It contains half the egg’s protein, along with the B2 vitamin, and less fat than the yolk.
The yolk has loads of nutrients like vitamin D, B12, B6, selenium, copper, iron, and zinc. The fact that eggs are one of the cheapest foods you can buy makes it easy to stay healthy while also staying on budget.
Q: Does the color of the eggshell matter?
A: No, the color of the eggshell doesn’t relate to nutrition or taste. Brown and white eggs are equal in both areas. Brown eggs can cost more than white eggs though.
The flavor of the eggs depends on how the hens are housed and their diet.
Q: Are organic eggs more nutritious?
A: Yes, organic eggs are healthier. A Penn State University study showed that organic eggs are more than double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids and higher amounts of vitamins A and E than conventional eggs.
Q: Is there an egg size that is better than others?
A: No, the size of the egg doesn’t matter in terms of nutrition or taste. Pay attention to what recipes call for as some require large eggs.
Eggs require some extra attention when sitting out for a meal or party as they must stay either cold or hot to avoid spreading salmonella. However, the nutritional value and benefits they bring to other dishes are well worth the extra care.