“Although dyed Easter eggs may look like decorations, they are really a perishable food. Improper care of perishable foods can trigger foodborne illness,” Reames said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, perishable foods, including dyed Easter eggs, left out of the refrigerator at temperatures higher than 40 degrees for more than two hours should not be consumed.
Reames said to wash your hands thoroughly before you handle eggs at every step including cooking, cooling and dyeing.
Instead of boiling eggs, Reames said to hard-cook them:
Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. Remove from burner and cover the pan. Let eggs stand in hot water about 9 minutes for medium eggs, 12 minutes for large eggs and 15 minutes for extra large. Cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water and then refrigerate.
When handling eggs, be careful not to crack them. Otherwise, bacteria could enter the egg through cracks in the shell.
When decorating, be sure to use food-grade dyes, such as commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring and fruit-drink powders. After dyeing eggs, return them to the refrigerator within two hours.
Hide the eggs in places protected from dirt, pets and other potential sources of bacteria, Reames said.
The USDA does not recommend using hard-cooked eggs that have been lying on the ground because they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked.
“Remember the two-hour rule, and make sure the found eggs are consumed within two hours or back in the refrigerator to be consumed within one week,” Reames said.
Eggs supply high-quality protein, are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins, and are low in calories.
“One large egg provides only 72 calories,” Reames said. “Eggs are low in saturated fat, although they are high in cholesterol —186 milligrams in one large egg.”
The cholesterol is found in the egg yolk, not the egg white. According to the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, evidence suggests that one egg yolk per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day, Reames said.
“Enjoy your leftover eggs by making egg salad using mostly the whites of your Easter eggs. Use three whites to one yolk,” she said. “Add plenty of diced celery or green pepper, and use fat-free or reduced fat mayonnaise.”
Some people enjoy pickling their leftover eggs in vinegar and pickling spices, spicy cider or juice from pickles or pickled beets. The USDA recommends that home-prepared pickled eggs be kept refrigerated and used within seven days. Home canning of pickled eggs is not recommended.