Monday, November 19, 2012

The Egg Issue: Do We or Dasn’t We?


Every few months someone stumbles across a series of YouTubes on dehydrating eggs. They range from raw eggs, to scrambled eggs, to boiled eggs. When I first encountered them, my salmonella gong started clanging. 


Folks, just because someone puts together a YouTube or posts something on the internet does not mean that it’s safe and you should jump right into it. View everything with caution, even what I have to say!

The first problem with the salmonella issue is that the egg emerges from the hen through the same plumbing that fecal matter is expelled. Often, they are encrusted with fecal matter. 

When an egg is laid, it is a bit soft and leathery and has a moist film over it. Before long, the shell hardens and the film dries.  In commercial operations, I’m not sure what kind of time frame there is between laying and gathering. The eggs are washed in a chemical bath. It has been suggested that this washing process removes that protective film, exposing the egg to more bacteria.

Linda’s Note: For the sake of expediency, instead of rewording the information I found, I’m simply copying and pasting, giving credit to the source. You are welcome to click on the links and read more. 

  • All USDA graded eggs and most large volume processors follow the washing step with a sanitizing rinse at the processing plant.
    • Linda’s Note: However, poor sanitation practices by the workers ignoring the regulations, and other issues can negate any good the washing process may do. As a consumer, unless we actually see the process, we are at the mercy of the least competent person on staff.
  • It is also possible for eggs to become infected by S. Enteritidis by fecal contamination through the pores of the shells after they're laid.
  • S. Enteritidis also can be inside an uncracked, whole egg.
  • Contamination of eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen's reproductive tract before the shell forms around the yolk and white. SE doesn't make the hen sick. 

Salmonella Bacteria
What is salmonella?
  • Salmonella enterica is the bacteria that causes salmonellosis, or salmonella poisoning.
  • Infection with S. enterica can cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting and cramps.
  • In severe cases, salmonellosis can be fatal, especially in children, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.
  • Some people with salmonellosis may also develop reactive arthritis later in life. 
So how can you avoid salmonella?
Eggs must be cooked at 160º in order to kill salmonella. 

  • No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes "health food" milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not thoroughly cooked. However, in-shell pasteurized eggs may be used safely without cooking.
  • Use safe egg recipes.
  • Egg mixtures are safe if they reach 160 °F, so homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer.
  • Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting, made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren't cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
  • To determine doneness in egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles, the center of the mixture should reach 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.
  • Use pasteurized eggs or egg products when preparing recipes that call for using eggs raw or undercooked. 
In case you missed it…
Eggs must be cooked at 160º in order to kill salmonella.

 What are the alternatives?
  • Coming next will be a post on using alternatives for eggs in baking.  Watch for it!
  • Buy powdered eggs. 
  • Powdered eggs today are significantly better than earlier attempts. My first exposure to powdered eggs was back in 1959. I am a soldier’s daughter and we had just finished a two-year stint on Okinawa.  We flew back to the States in a four-prop plane for 36 hours with a stopover in Wake Island and Honolulu on our way to Los Angeles. This was pre-microwave days. Eventually they brought us a breakfast of scrambled… something.  It was lumpy, watery, and greenish.  And I must confess, after a couple of bites, I was airsick for the first and only time in my life. <she rolls her eyes>
  • I use powdered eggs today and they are wonderful! When you add the proper ratio of water to powder, they can be used in cooking recipes just as you would use fresh eggs.
    • You can find a variety of brands on line.  Watch for sales and special deals on them. 

That being said…
I’m thinking if you have really fresh eggs, and you know where they come from, and good sanitary practices have been used, then you might consider dehydrating your eggs. 
  • My recommendation would be to dehydrate cooked eggs. If you try dehydrating raw eggs at 160º they will end up cooked anyway.
  • At this point in time, I am not sure how they will rehydrate or how they can be used. I’m thinking they won’t do in recipes that call for raw eggs, but will be satisfactory for scrambled egg dishes.
Linda’s Note: This is the first of several posts on eggs.  I’m beginning with research and information I found about eggs and salmonella. Later, when I can afford enough eggs, I will attempt dehydrating a few and show you what I found.




  1. We have had great luck dehydrating scrambled eggs. We cook(completely)5 doz at a time then dehydrate them at 140 degrees for about 6 plus hours. Then I grind them in a blender or food processor. At theat point they go back into the dehydrator as granuales for another 3 or 4 hours until no moisture is left at all. I reprocess with the food processor and then vaccum seal in mason jars with an ox absorber in each jar. We get about 1.6 pounds dehydrated per 5 dozen eggs.

  2. Great info!^^I was just wondering how long do you 'expect' these eggs to last for..I'm not even guessing@ this one lol.I like that you dried them again, after they had been ground..was it pretty much powdered,then? Thanks for your insight,as I am always experimenting,especially with the leathers& rollups lately.
    Thanks Linda for all of the info you have posted.I'm a bit of a 'mad scientist' with recipes& ingredients especially with my dehydrator lol.I do practice being thorough,tho,& you sure have been a big help with every bit of info you have gathered here.Thanks again!Lynda

  3. Ok cant you get salmonella from contaminated fruit and other foods that are not dehydrated above 160 degrees? I do dehydrate eggs until they are completly dry, then i powder and pour onto a cookie sheet and place in the oven at 180 for 4 hours. Would this not kill any salmonella?

    1. Without testing, you have no way of knowing what has been contaminated and what hasn't been contaminated. it's a tricky question. Contamination from salmonella comes from exposure, usually from fecal matter of some sort.

      That's why eggs are especially at risk. They come from the cloaca, which is the same tube the bird .... well, poops from. I used to keep chickens, and it's not uncommon to find fecal matter encrusted on eggs.

      As I understand it, unless your fruit and veggies have been exposed to fecal matter, salmonella shouldn't be a problem.