Mar 25, 2024

KOERNER: Ham it up and celebrate Easter with egg-stra care

Posted Mar 25, 2024 6:00 PM
written by: Monique Koerner - Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District.
written by: Monique Koerner - Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District.

Easter ham is a prominent menu item for many Easter gatherings.

When buying a ham, estimate the size needed according to the number of servings the type of ham should yield:

· 1/4 – 1/3 lb. per serving of boneless ham

· 1/3 – 1/2 lb. of meat per serving of bone-in ham

Whether you are cooking a raw ham or preparing a ready-to eat ham product, follow these steps for a ham that is cooked to perfection.

· Ham that is not ready-to-eat but has the appearance of ready-to-eat products will bear a statement on the label indicating the product needs cooking.

· Ham that requires cooking before consumption or fresh, raw ham must reach an internal temperature of 145°F (with a three-minute rest time). Set the oven no lower than 325°F.

Cooked canned ham and cooked vacuum-packaged ham, both from federally inspected plants, can be eaten right out of the package. All of these along with spiral-cut cooked ham are safe to eat cold or can be warmed to an internal temperature of 145°F, as they are already fully cooked. For cooked hams that have been repackaged in any other location outside the processing plant, heat to an internal temperature of 165°F, measured with a food thermometer, before you serve it.

Store leftover ham in the refrigerator. Use or freeze leftover ham within 3-5 days. Frozen ham is best used within 1-2 months.

A handy chart is available to determine the temperature and cooking time for the type of ham purchased from the USDA Hams and Food Safety website.

Another popular food at the Easter table are eggs. Usually in the form of deviled eggs. And then, of course, there are dyed eggs that are hidden by the Easter bunny and found by little children Easter morning. We always hoped for good weather because the Easter Egg Hunt was way more fun outside than inside!

Easter is a great time to celebrate with family and friends. If you plan to have an Easter egg hunt with real eggs, here’s some food safety tips to keep in mind.

· Only use eggs that have been refrigerated, and discard eggs that are cracked or dirty.

· When cooking, place a single layer of eggs in a saucepan. Add water to at least one inch above the eggs. Cover the pan, bring the water to a boil, and carefully remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs stand (18 minutes for extra large eggs, 15 minutes for large, 12 minutes for medium). Immediately run cold water over the eggs. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, place them in an uncovered container in the refrigerator where they can air-dry.

· When decorating, be sure to use food-grade dyes. It is safe to use commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring, and fruit-drink powders. When handling eggs, be careful not to crack them. Otherwise, bacteria could enter the egg through the cracks in the shell.

· Keep hard-cooked Easter eggs chilled on a shelf inside the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door.

· Hide the eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other potential sources of bacteria.

· Remember the two hour rule, and make sure the “found” eggs are back in the refrigerator or consumed within two hours.

· Remember that hard-boiled eggs are only safe to eat for one week after cooking.

Have fun weekend and enjoy your Easter Dinner!

Monique Koerner is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at: 785-628-9430 or [email protected]. K-State Research & Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.