Eggs were colored, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of spring long before Christian times. Even the earliest civilizations held springtime festivals to welcome the sun’s rising from its long winter sleep. Ancient peoples thought of the sun’s return from darkness as an annual miracle and they regarded the egg as a natural wonder and a proof of the renewal of life. As Christianity spread, the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ’s Resurrection from the tomb.
For centuries, eggs were among the foods forbidden by the church during Lent, so it was a special treat to have them again at Easter. In Slavic countries, baskets of food including eggs are traditionally taken to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday or before the Easter midnight Mass, then taken home for a part of Easter breakfast.
People in Eastern European countries have a long tradition of elaborately decorating Easter eggs. Polish, Slavic and Ukrainian people create amazingly intricate designs on the eggs. They draw lines with a wax pencil or stylus, dip the egg in color and repeat the process many times to make true works of art. Every dot and line in the pattern has a meaning. Yugoslavian Easter eggs bear the initials “XV” for “Christ is Risen”, a traditional Easter greeting.
The Russians, during the reign of the Tsars, celebrated Easter much more elaborately than Christmas, with Easter breads and other special foods and quantities of decorated eggs given as gifts. The Russian royal family carried the custom to great lengths, giving exquisitely detailed jeweled eggs made by goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé from the 1880s until 1917.
In Germany and other countries of central Europe, eggs that go into Easter foods are not broken, but emptied out. The empty shells are painted and decorated with bits of lace, cloth or ribbon, then hung with ribbons on an evergreen or small leafless tree. On the third Sunday before Easter, Moravian village girls used to carry a tree decorated with eggshells and flowers from house to house for good luck. The eggshell tree is one of several Easter traditions carried to America by German (Deutsch) settlers, especially those who became known as Pennsylvania Dutch. German immigrants also brought the fable that the Easter bunny delivers colored eggs for good children.
Easter is an especially happy time for children and many Easter customs are for their enjoyment. Hunting Easter eggs hidden around the house or yard is a widespread activity and so are egg-rolling contests.
– See Decorating Eggs, Empty Eggshells, Games
– See Cream Puffs
The nutrition organization for the egg industry. American Egg Board began to fund ENC in 1984 to provide scientifically correct information on egg nutrition and accompanying health issues. Located in Park Ridge, IL, the Egg Nutrition Center communicates regularly with industry, the media, and health and nutrition communities.
A panel of independent scientists advises the Egg Nutrition Center on the interpretation of research studies. The Center is dedicated to providing scientifically accurate, up-to-date information on egg nutrition and health issues. The Egg Nutrition Center’s website can be accessed at: www.eggnutritioncenter.org
– See American Egg Board
Processed and convenience forms of eggs for commercial, foodservice and home use, including refrigerated-liquid, frozen, dried and specialty products. Egg products are comparable to shell eggs in flavor, nutritional value and most functional properties. Convenience foods – such as cake and pudding mixes, pasta, ice cream, mayonnaise, candies and bakery goods – utilize egg products. Egg products are frequently preferred to shell eggs by commercial bakers, food manufacturers and the foodservice industry because they have many advantages, including convenience, labor savings, minimal storage requirements, ease of portion control, and product quality, safety, stability and uniformity.
Surplus shell eggs, as well as those produced particularly for the purpose, are used in making egg products. About 30% of total U.S. egg production goes into egg products. About three billion pounds of all types of egg products are produced each year in the U.S.
Since passage of the Egg Product Inspection Act (EPIA) in 1970, all plants that make egg products operate under continuous USDA inspection. The Act mandates specific inspection requirements for shell eggs and egg products to ensure wholesomeness, including pasteurization of all egg products.
Processing egg products. Immediately on delivery to the breaking plant, shell eggs are held in refrigerated holding rooms. Before breaking, the eggs are washed in water that is at least 90°F (32°C). The wash water must also be at least 20°F (-7°C) warmer than the internal temperature of the eggs. The eggs must be spray-rinsed with a sanitizing agent.
Refrigerated liquid products.Machines break eggs and, if necessary, separate the whites and yolks. After the liquid egg is pasteurized and put into covered containers, it may be shipped to bakeries or other outlets for immediate use or to other plants for further processing. When shipped by truckload, sanitary tank trucks maintain temperatures low enough to assure that the liquid egg arrives at its destination at 40ºF (4ºC) or less.
In addition to tanker truckloads, wholesale and foodservice refrigerated-product containers range in size from bags containing a few ounces to 20-, 30- and 45-pound bags, 4- to 10-pound cartons, 30-pound cans and bulk totes holding up to 3,000 pounds. Retail refrigerated products for home use are generally available in one-or two-pack cartons containing 8 to 16 ounces each.
Keep liquid egg products under refrigeration and use immediately after opening. Shelf life can vary, so check the product label.
Frozen egg products. These products include separated whites and yolks, whole eggs, blends of whole eggs and yolks or whole eggs and milk and these same blends with salt, sugar or corn syrup added. Salt or carbohydrates are sometimes added to yolks and whole eggs to prevent yolk gelation during freezing. Frozen egg products are generally packed in 30- and 40-pound plastic pails, 30-pound cans, and in 4-, 5-, 8- and 10- pound pouches (some of which are cook-in-bag pouches) or waxed or plastic cartons. Some retail consumer products are available frozen in one-or two-pack cartons containing 8 to 16 ounces each.
Keep frozen egg products frozen or refrigerated until use. Thaw frozen egg products under refrigeration or under cold running water in unopened containers. After defrosting, refrigerate thawed egg products and use within 3 days.
Dried or dehydrated egg products. Known also as egg solids, dried egg products have been produced in the United States since 1930. Demand was minimal until World War II when production reached peak levels to meet military and lend-lease requirements. Present-day technology – such as glucose removal and improved multi-stage dryers – has greatly improved the quality of dried eggs. Dried egg products are used in a wide number of convenience foods and in the foodservice industry.
Dried eggs for foodservice are sold in 6-ounce pouches, and 3- and 25-pound poly-packs. For commercial use, 5-, 25- and 50- pound boxes and 150-, 175- and 200-pound drums are available. For home use, dried egg products include dried egg whites in 3- to 8-ounce fiberboard and metal canisters sold in supermarkets, meringue powders often available at gourmet outlets and freeze-dried egg products found in camping goods stores.
Unopened dried egg products may be stored at room temperature as long as they are kept cool and dry. Tightly seal and refrigerate opened containers. Reconstituted egg products should be used immediately or refrigerated and used that day.
Specialty egg products. Egg specialties processed for the foodservice industry include wet- and dry-pack, pre-peeled, hard-boiled eggs – either whole, wedged, sliced, chopped or pickled; long rolls of hard-boiled eggs; and freeze-dried scrambled eggs. Among other convenience menu items, also available are a host of frozen products, including precooked fried and scrambled eggs and scrambled egg mix in boilable pouch, omelets, egg patties, French toast, quiche and quiche mix. Ultra-pasteurized liquid eggs with extended shelf-life are also available.
Many specialty egg items are also available at retail, including refrigerated peeled, hard-boiled eggs; shelf-stable pickled eggs; and frozen scrambled eggs, omelets and mixes, French toast and quiche.
– See Breakers, Egg Products Inspection Act, Restricted Eggs
The Egg Products Inspection Act assures that eggs and egg products distributed and consumed by the public are wholesome, not adulterated, and properly labeled and packaged. Passed by Congress in 1970, the Egg Products Inspection Act is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and imposes specific inspection requirements for two categories of eggs – shell eggs and egg products. Under the Egg Products Inspection Act, plants that break, dry and process shell eggs into liquid, frozen or dried egg products must operate under the continuous inspection program of the USDA. The law does not apply to food-manufacturing plants which prepare cooked eggs or other food products made with eggs or egg products, such as those which make mayonnaise, egg noodles and ice cream, for example. An official inspector must be present at all times when eggs are being processed.
– See Egg Products, Grading, Restricted Eggs
1. An elongated, hard-boiled egg processed for the foodservice industry. When the roll is sliced, every piece is a center cut for attractive service.
– See Egg Products
2. An Asian specialty consisting of a savory filling wrapped in an egg-rich dough, then deep-fat fried. In the U.S., egg rolls are usually served as appetizers.
3. An annual Easter event held in many venues, including the White House lawn.
– See Egg Games
Clean hands and equipment, sanitary food-handling practices, proper cooking and adequate refrigeration are essential in preparing all foods, including eggs, prior to eating. The contents of raw shell eggs may contain the bacteria Salmonella Enteritidis, but common food-safety practices can reduce the risk of illness. Use only refrigerated, clean, uncracked, fresh Grade AA or A eggs and follow these important food-handling practices:
Clean all cooking equipment and food-contact surfaces you use in food preparation. Always wash your hands before and after cracking open raw eggs and wash frequently during food preparation. Use soap and warm water and rub your hands together for 20 seconds, then dry thoroughly.
As the kitchen can also be a source of bacteria, to avoid cross-contamination, clean all cooking equipment and food-contact surfaces. Also avoid mixing egg yolks and whites with the shell.
Proper heating destroys the bacteria of concern in eggs. Cook eggs until the whites and yolks are firm and cook egg-containing dishes to an internal temperature of 160ºF (71°C)
Always refrigerate eggs in their original carton in the main section of the refrigerator. Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the refrigerator temperature is between 33° to 40ºF (1° to 4°C). If you accidentally leave eggs, egg mixtures or cooked egg dishes at room temperature, discard them after two hours or one hour (when the temperature outside is 90ºF (32°C) or warmer. For summer outings, use ice or coolant in an insulated bag or cooler to keep cold foods cold (40ºF/4°C or lower) and thermal containers to keep hot foods hot (140ºF/60°C or higher). When you tote raw eggs on outings, leave them in their shells.
– See Cooking Methods, Doneness Guidelines, Fight BAC!, Partnership for Food Safety Education, Raw Eggs, Salmonella, Egg Safety Center
Under the administration of United Egg Producers, the Egg Safety Center (ESC) provides scientifically accurate information on egg safety issues to both consumers and egg producers. ESC also answers any questions that consumers, producers, or media may have on eggs and egg safety as well as provides real-time updates on recalls that include eggs or egg products.
– See Egg Safety
A popular combination of chopped hard-boiled eggs, a dressing – such as mayonnaise – and seasonings. Egg salad is often served as a sandwich filling or in tomato or lettuce cups.
Liquid egg products that typically contain only egg white with the yolk replaced by other ingredients, such as non-fat milk, tofu, vegetable oil, emulsifiers, stabilizers, antioxidants, gum, artificial color, minerals and vitamins. Egg substitutes contain the high-quality protein of egg white as well as the white’s vitamins and minerals. However, each formula for replacing the yolk differs, so check labels for total nutrient content.
Due to varying formulas, each brand of egg substitute performs differently in cooking. You may have to experiment to learn how to cook an individual brand. For instance, those brands without fat will cook more quickly than those containing fat. Common to all brands is that the yolk’s cooking properties, including emulsification, are lost. All brands which contain fat retard egg-white foaming which is needed to leaven certain dishes. Since both emulsification and leavening are important in many baked goods, egg substitutes may not yield the same results as shell eggs in home baking.
– See Albumen
A beverage of eggs, milk, sugar and sometimes flavoring. Rich cream may take the place of part or all of the milk and spirits are often added at holiday time. Eggnog may be served hot or cold, but it should be prepared as a cooked stirred custard. The name may come from the noggin or small cup in which it was served in earlier days.
Visit www.IncredibleEgg.org for an Eggnog recipe.
– See Custard, Doneness Guidelines, Cooking Whole Egg for Use in Recipes, Egg Safety, Raw Eggs
Shells from which the edible part of the egg has been emptied. With nothing inside to spoil, you can decorate empty eggshells and keep them indefinitely.
To empty an eggshell, first wash the egg, using water warmer than the egg, and dry it. With a sterilized long needle or small, sharp skewer, prick a small hole in the small end of the egg and a large hole in the large end. Carefully chip away bits of shell around the large hole until it’s big enough to accommodate the tip of a baster. Stick the needle or skewer into the yolk to break it.
Either shake the egg large-end down over a cup or bowl until the contents come out or use a baster to push out the contents. Press the bulb of the baster to push air into the egg, letting the contents fall into the cup. If the contents don’t come out easily, insert the needle again and move it around to be sure both the shell membranes and yolk are broken. Rinse the empty shell under cool running water and stand it on end to drain and dry. Be careful when decorating emptied shells – they’re quite fragile.
Use the contents of emptied eggshells immediately in a recipe which includes mixed yolks and whites and calls for thorough cooking. Most baked dishes – such as casseroles, custards, quiches, cakes or breads – are good uses for eggs emptied from their shells.
Either of the two times each year when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length everywhere. It is said that an egg will stand on its end during the spring (vernal) equinox (about March 21). Depending on the shape of the egg, you may be able to stand it on its end other days of the year as well.
A date on an egg carton beyond which the eggs should not be sold.
– See Carton Dates, Julian Dates