A handy method for safer eggs

Pasteurized Eggs

Home-pasteurized eggs, May 2014

My brother likes to make Caesar salad for his family on special occasions. Because traditional Caesar dressing contains raw egg yolk, and raw eggs can carry sickness-causing salmonella, I was curious about his method. When I asked about it he said with a little harrumph, “People are too careful.” Meaning yes, he does use raw yolks.

I’ve used raw yolks of well-sourced organic eggs in my homemade mayonnaise, but with misgivings. To be more safe, I’ve purchased pasteurized eggs (Safest Choice are available where I live), but they’re not organic. To make lovely organic eggs just a little safer, here is my method for pasteurizing them on the stove top.

Included as well is a method for calibrating a candy/oil thermometer. An accurate thermometer is helpful for making candy or frying, but it’s especially important for pasteurizing eggs because the temperature window between raw and cooked is small—they need to get to at least 138ºF, and they’ll start to cook at around 145ºF.

Disclaimer: Of course, I must add a caution. The US Department of Agriculture says the following: “The equipment to pasteurize eggs isn’t available for home use, and it is not possible to pasteurize shell eggs at home without cooking the contents of the egg.” Therefore, use eggs prepared with this process at your own risk.

How to calibrate a candy/oil thermometer

To calibrate a candy or oil thermometer, which you will use in pasteurizing eggs, clip the thermometer to the side of a pot of water, making sure the bulb doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Bring water to a boil, and allow to boil 5 minutes.

The thermometer should read 212ºF or 100ºC. If it’s high or low, make a note of how much.

Remove the thermometer from the water and allow to cool. If the shaft of the thermometer will move slightly in its brackets, carefully push it in the proper direction to compensate for the amount it was off.

Place the thermometer in boiling water again to test whether you moved the shaft the correct amount. You may need to repeat a couple of times.

If the shaft won’t move, note the difference and allow for it in the future when using your thermometer.

Home-Pasteurized Eggs
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Recipe type: How-To
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Ingredients
  • Large pot with pasta insert or steamer insert
  • Candy/oil thermometer
  • 6 to 12 eggs
Instructions
  1. Place steamer insert or pasta insert in pot. Add eggs. Cover eggs with water plus a few inches. Clip thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure the bulb doesn't touch the metal of the pan. Heat the pot on lowest burner using the lowest possible temperature.
  2. Watch carefully so the temperature doesn't go above 140ºF or 60ºC. You may need to turn up the heat, but do so in very small increments. When temperature reaches 140ºF or 60ºC, hold at that temperature for at least 5 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Remove eggs from pot and place in a bowl of cool water. When eggs are no longer hot, drain and place them back into the carton. With a marker put a “P” on each so you don’t forget they’re pasteurized. Refrigerate.
  4. Use in recipes that call for raw eggs, or use them as you would any eggs. The whites might be slightly milky.

 

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2 Responses to “A handy method for safer eggs”

  1. Julia says:

    Awesome article and recipe Eileen! Love the tips! What restaurant has the best eggs you’ve ever had? Remember to add it to your Besty List! http://www.thebesty.com/eileenseveryoneeatsright

  2. This is such a handy post. 🙂 I’ve often wondered about using raw eggs in aioli (where the acid “cooks” the egg) and other recipes at home — this is a great way to eat them enjoyable and safely! I love the P-marked advice, too.


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