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Everything you need to know about cooking and serving eggs -- just in time for the Easter bunny

What's not to love about the Easter Bunny season: baskets, flowers, chocolate, and eggs -- lots of them! Around this time of year, many of us are either dyeing eggs or making favorite egg dishes.

In either case, there are a few things you need to know.

8 Egg-cellent Egg-Safety Tips

1. Avoid the "S" word: salmonella. Fresh eggs may contain the bacteria Salmonella enteritidis. Although S. enteritidis affects a very small number of eggs, it's still wise to refrain from eating raw or undercooked eggs. The salmonella tends to be found in the yolk of the egg, according to researchers. But it's possible for it to be in raw egg whites, so it's best to avoid both.

Just so you know what you're getting into, foods that may have been made with raw eggs include:

  • Homemade mayonnaise
  • Milkshakes and smoothies
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Homemade ice cream
  • Homemade eggnog

2. Pick pasteurized. If you want to make a recipe that calls for raw beaten eggs or egg whites, fear not! You have a few options here. Egg substitutes are pasteurized, which means they're rapidly heated at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to destroy any salmonella. Dried egg whites are pasteurized by being heat-treated in their dried form. Pasteurized whole eggs are also available at some supermarkets.

3. Keep 'em cool. Salmonella bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature. So make sure the eggs you buy are well refrigerated at the store. Then put them in your refrigerator as soon as you get home.

4. Don't store them in the door. I know some refrigerator doors are designed with a special place to keep your eggs. But guess what? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the best way to store your eggs is to leave them in the carton they came in and keep them in the coldest part of your refrigerator (which is not the door!), set at 40 degrees or slightly below.

5. You've got three to five weeks. It's tempting to stock up on eggs when your market has a two-for-one sale on those 18-egg cartons. But unless you're making egg salad for a potluck or planning an egg-dyeing marathon, you might want to stick to the 12-egg option. According to government guidelines, it's best to use raw eggs in three to five weeks (check the purchase-by date on the carton for more precise information).

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