“I want eggs, Mummy,” is one of those phrases that will snap me out of whatever I’m doing and get me running to the kitchen. By the time my four-year-old says that out loud, he’ll already have raw eggs in his hands. And if I’m not fast enough, they will be on the floor too. “I sorry, Mummy.”
Photo by Theodore C.
This is why I pasteurise my eggs. Raw eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria, although it’s hard to get a handle on whether your risk is vanishingly rare or merely “probably not today”. In any case, one million people in the US get sick from Salmonella every year. Since children are more susceptible to food poisoning than adults, I don’t like my kids to smash raw eggs, track them all over the house, and then lick their fingers. A sad reality of parenting is that this will probably happen in your house at least once.
You can buy eggs already pasteurised, but it’s simple to do the job yourself if you already have an immersion circulator (the same thing you use for sous vide cooking). Just do as Claire does and put the eggs in the water (no plastic bag needed) at 57.2C for 75 minutes. When they’re done, I like to write a letter “P” on each egg so I don’t get them mixed up with truly raw eggs in the fridge.
The eggs come out with their whites just slightly cloudy and thickened. This might affect the texture of certain raw egg recipes, so you’ll want to add lemon juice or cream of tartar if you need to whip up a meringue.
Otherwise, they cook up just fine in any recipe. I can let my kids “help” make their usual scrambled eggs, and not worry about that reflexive wipe-the-hands-on-the-shirt move. I’ve also used them to make royal icing and other recipes that call for raw eggs. You can even make raw cookie dough with them, if you microwave the flour first (flour can carry germs too, unfortunately). Whatever happens to the raw eggs in your house, it can happen a little more safely if the eggs are pasteurised.