Monday, March 25, 2013
Tips and tricks: Dyeing Easter eggs in a family fun and safe way
From cooking and eating to dyeing and hiding.
The warmer weather means one thing: Spring will soon be here! And that means that Easter is only a few days away. Are you planning an egg hunt for your family this year? Normally, when we think of egg hunts, we think of young children. But many families continue this tradition even after their young children become teens and young adults. After all, what’s more fun than an egg hunt? And you only do it once a year, making it special.
If you haven't colored eggs for an egg hunt in a while, consider doing it this year. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Schedule a time when your kids or grandkids can help out, making it more fun. Use egg dyes or regular food coloring and follow package directions. Since the dyes and food colorings could stain your countertop, make sure that you protect it with paper towels or newspapers.
Hard cooking eggs is sometimes called boiling eggs. Although the cooking water must come to a boil, a more tender, less rubbery egg without a green ring around the yolk is produced and less breakage occurs when the heat is turned off or the pan removed from the burner, allowing the egg to cook gently in hot water. This method is more energy-efficient and is food safe. The ring is caused by sulfur and iron compounds naturally reacting at the surface of the yolk. It is usually brought on by overcooking or a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Once the eggs have cooled, refrigerate them in their shells until use.
You might want to hard cook the eggs ahead of time. If you do this, then you can spend all your time with your kids or grandkids having fun coloring the eggs. To hard cook eggs, place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Add enough tap water to come at least 1 inch above eggs. Cover. Quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off heat. If necessary, remove the pan from the burner to prevent further boiling. Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs and 12 minutes for medium eggs. If you use extra-large eggs, increase the time to 18 minutes. Immediately drain and run cold water over eggs. Refrigerate.
Once eggs are hard cooked, it’s time to color them. Follow the package instructions to dye eggs. After they dry, get creative - add stickers, use markers to write messages, glue on colored gems. You are only limited by your imagination. Make sure to refrigerate eggs until time for your hunt. After the hunt, and all the ones that tend to follow (after all, who has heard of just having one egg hunt!), go ahead and toss out the eggs. Since they have probably been out of refrigeration for more than two hours and hidden in grass, dirt, weeds, etc., they are no longer safe to eat.
If you hard cooked extra eggs for eating purposes, the shell must be removed. To remove the shell, crackle it by tapping gently all over. Roll eggs between your hands to loosen the shell. Peel, starting at the large end. Hold the egg under cold running water or dip in a bowl of water to help ease off shells. Keep hard cooked eggs in the refrigerator up to one week.
Very fresh eggs may be difficult to peel. The fresher the egg, the more the shell membranes cling to the shells. Though many techniques to make peeling easier have been tried, the simplest method is to buy and refrigerate eggs a week to 10 days in advance of hard cooking. This brief breather allows the eggs to take in air which helps separate the membrane from the shell. Before peeling, it’s important to crackle the shells until they have a fine network of lines all over. Eggshells usually come off much more easily, without tearing the whites, when they’re in small pieces rather than large chunks. Hard cooked eggs out of the shell should be used immediately.
If you want to make deviled eggs, try this quick and simple method. It’s so easy that the even beginning cooks can master it easily. Combine your favorite filling ingredients and knead in a sealed food storage bag until smooth and well blended. To fill whites, snip off a corner of the bag and squeeze to refill the white just if you were using a pastry bag.
For more information on hard cooking or using eggs, go to www.aeb.org.