Did you know hard boiled eggs are easier to peel if they are toward the end of their self-life?  That means now is the time to purchase those Easter Eggs for hunting and "deviling"!  Here are a few things to know when using eggs this spring.

Poultry may carry bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter that can cause illness to you and your family.  Infected birds do not usually appear to be sick and baby chicks may be especially prone to shed these microorganisms. Even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain bacteria. While anyone can become ill from exposure to these microorganisms, the risk of infection is especially high for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems. If small children handle eggs, always supervise hand washing afterwards.

Storage:  It is best to store eggs in the main section of the refrigerator at 35F to 40F; the shelves in the door tend to be warmer than interior shelves. If collected and stored properly, eggs can have a safe shelf life of greater than three weeks. Date the storage carton or container and use older eggs first.

If you have more eggs than you can use, you can break them out of their shells and freeze them. Only freeze fresh eggs. Beat until just blended, use an ice cube tray and pour beaten egg into the compartments.  Once the eggs are frozen you can take them out of the ice cube tray and put them in a freezer bag, labeled with the date.  One "egg cube" is equal to one standard egg for use in recipes.  They can be thawed in the refrigerator, or under cool running water.

Some people keep freshly collected eggs out on the counter-top.  Although this is not a preferred method, freshly collected eggs which are not washed, can be kept outside of refrigeration for a short period of time.  This is never recommended for commercially purchased eggs.  Once an egg has been washed it loses its natural protective coating which allows bacteria exposure inside the egg.

Preparation.  Never eat eggs raw. Undercooked egg whites and yolks have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella enteritidis infections. To prevent illness from bacteria, cook eggs until yolks are firm and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly to 160F. Use a food thermometer to be sure. Do not keep cooked or raw eggs at room temperature for more than two hours.

Interesting Egg Facts!

Very fresh eggs can be difficult to peel. To ensure easily peeled eggs, buy and refrigerate them a week to 10 days in advance of cooking. This brief "breather" allows the eggs time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

Hard-boiled eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling. Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell.

To peel a hard-boiled egg: Gently tap egg on countertop until shell is finely crackled all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Start peeling at large end, holding egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.

Hard-boiled egg storage time: In the shell, hard-boiled eggs can be refrigerated safely up to one week. Refrigerate in their original carton to prevent odor absorption. Once peeled, eggs should be eaten that day.