Monday, June 21, 2010
Last One is a Rotten Egg!
Dear Tricia, Last month I bought 2 -18 count organic eggs around 6pm, put them in my trunk, came home, parked in my garage and forgot they were there… 2 hours later (ugh!!) I remembered and put them in my fridge. I ended up throwing them away, but hated doing it…would you think they’d be good still? I’ve heard that cooking with room temperature eggs is better anyway…how long is “room temperature” before you start letting it rot? Hate wasting food, but hate getting “wasted” more.
Good question! I understand your hatred for wasting food and money. Like I always say, nobody likes a waster. But unfortunately, I have news for you that puts you in the waster category. At 2 hours, your eggs were just fine. Insert sad face here.
What's funny to me about Americans (not that I'm not American, but I just notice that Americans seem to be especially concerned about refrigerating EVERYTHING) and their refrigeration habits, is that they think that anything left out at room temperature is going to go bad immediately. I know people who request ice to pack their groceries in for the 20 minute ride home, which seems a little ridiculous. Let's not forget that produce grows outside in the hot sun, and that eggs come from warm chicken lady holes.
In Europe, you'll usually find eggs at the grocery store out at room temperature, far away from the refrigerators. Their system of putting expiration dates on eggs is based on when the egg was laid, not when it left the farm like it is here in the States. So their guidelines on refrigeration are obviously different than ours, but you don't seen some crazy Egg Plague taking over Europe either. I've also seen eggs out at room temperature in Grenada, part of the British West Indies. I ate them and I was fine. No Egg Plague for me, I've avoided Salmonella, and have only gotten food poisoning from calamari and bad hockey arena food. (Ugh. Never again.)
"But what about eggs giving me Salmonella, Tricia?" Here's the deal with Salmonella: you don't get it from eating undercooked or spoiled eggs. A chicken has to already have Salmonella in their body in order to get Salmonella into the egg. It happens before the egg leaves their body, and before the egg even has a shell around it. And even then, if you boiled the egg, you'd cook the Salmonella right out of it. It's not like an automatic thing that magically happens if you leave an egg out and then it just gets Salmonella. That would be some form of crazy ninja bacteria that doesn't exist yet. But ideally, that's why you're not supposed to eat raw eggs. And people are usually good about that until it comes to eating raw cookie dough. Then it doesn't seem to matter anymore, does it?
Here's my humble opinion... that's why you're here, right? According to the Egg Safety Center (eggsafety.org), you can only leave eggs out for 2 hours at room temperature before they are unsafe. And frankly I think that's a load of crap. A humongous pile of steaming crap, covered in Salmonella. Especially because the health department and food safety books will tell you that you have a 4 hour window. There's no set standard, just a lot of overly cautious, super litigious people who are afraid you might get sick and then sue them. Do you want to avoid eating room temperature eggs if you're like 98 years old with pneumonia, or you have the immune system of an AIDS patient? Probably. But for most of us... its fine. Every bakery and restaurant I've ever worked in leaves eggs out at room temperature all day. I've written about this before when I talked about how room temperature eggs are best used in baking. And you were just fine after you ate that delicious piece of Red Velvet cake that I baked.
Now would you use those eggs to make cookies if you cracked them open and they smelled rotten? No, of course not. You always want to use your best judgment when it comes to food safety, and you can read more about that here. So remember to use your eyes, nose, and brain. And when you go to Italy and eat that fritatta at breakfast that is oh-so-delicioso... just remember that those eggs didn't ever see a refrigerator.