April holiday gives Extension office chance to teach 4-Hers cooking skills

Synonymous with Easter are eggs the painted, dyed or colored variety that find their way into homes and yards each year.

But with eggs come dangers.

To avoid improper cooking of eggs, which can lead to illness or death, Moffat County Extension Office employee Elisa Shackelton taught Moffat County 4-H food projects students the proper method of hard-cooking eggs.

She also taught students how elevation changes effect boiling.

Initially, it was thought the proper way to hard-cook eggs is to put them in cold water, bring the water to a boil and take the eggs off the heat. After experimenting, Shackelton and her 4-H students deemed the best way to hard-cook eggs was to boil water and place the eggs in the water for 20 to 22 minutes.

With this method, the eggs were cooked beautifully and easy to peel, Shackelton said.

Shackelton also incorporated food safety into the project.

"You never want hard-cooked eggs to be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours," Shackelton said. "If you are going to hide eggs, it is recommended that you hide plastic ones."

If the eggs are going to be on the ground, it is safer to use plastic ones, she said.

If an egg is cracked, bacteria like salmonella can easily find its way into the egg.

The highlight of the day for the group of girls ranging in age from 8 to 14 was decorating the eggs. The girls hovered over the six pots of water and eggs on the Extension Office range and waited patiently for their eggs to be ready.

Shackelton said the best dyes to buy are the pre-packaged ones, or for a wider variety of colors, the food colors in the spice sections of grocery stores.

Hard-cooking eggs was just one of the projects this 4-H group will do. According to Shackelton, these 4-Hers will learn how to cook and how do it nutritiously and safely.

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