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Previous: Eggs - The Quickest Omelet

Poached Egg with Fresh Salsa"Ma, did you hear about the Inventor," Hosh joked seriously, "who turned his friend into an egg?"

"No," Isha took him seriously.

"He was trying to poach his ideas," laughed Hosh.

"Oh, I see," Isha smiled, "Well, poaching is no good, eggs-ept when it comes to poaching eggs. Wanna learn how to poach 'em perfectly?"

Hosh nodded excitedly. He loved learning from his mother. She made it fun and simple, gave him heaps of reliable information quickly, and he didn't have to search for hours or have to vet it before using.

"When you poach an egg," she started, "the fresher the better, because the yolk and white stay together better."

"But do the opposite when you wanna boil an egg. Fresh eggs are hard to peel, so go for eggs that are 2-3 weeks old if you wanna boil them."

"Another important thing to know is that just before a hen lays an egg, the eggshell is covered with a natural coating which seals its pores."

"This layer, called the cuticle or bloom, is still wet when the egg emerges, but quickly dries after a few minutes."

"This stops bacteria from getting inside the shell and reduces moisture and carbon dioxide loss from an egg which could degrade the egg quality."

"Bacteria cannot penetrate a thoroughly dry egg shell. Add a thin layer of moisture, however, and not only is there a medium that promotes bacterial growth, but the water also provides an excellent vehicle for pathogens such as salmonella and other critters to pass through via the tens of thousands of pores on the surface of the egg shell."

"So, wiping or washing eggs, improper handling or if the eggs were laid by unhealthy chickens in the first place, can remove this protective coating and reduce the lifetime of an egg."

"In North America, legislation requires eggs to be washed, dried and refrigerated before being sold to cusumers. This is to remove natural farm contaminants present in the cleanest farms and to prevent the growth of bacteria."

"In Europe legislation requires the opposite. Washing removes the natural protective cuticle on the egg and refrigeration causes condensation which may promote bacteria growth."

"So believe it or not, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) graded eggs would be illegal if sold in the UK, or indeed anywhere in the European Union (EU) and vice versa."

"Regardless of whose reasoning you personally prefer, one thing is clear. Proper handling, storage and cooking of eggs is critically important if you want to avoid food poisoning."

"In 2009, approx 62 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of over 6 billion hens. So it is a massive global industry."

"You may have no control over how eggs were handled and stored before they reached you unless you have your own chooks, but you can take some simple precautions before you eat them."

"In the 1990's, research showed that eggs containing salmonella did not experience any prevalent growth in the number of salmonella cells when kept at room temperature for up to 21 days after purchase. Post 21 days however, and the eggs were heavily contaminated."

"So, it is best to store them in the fridge if they are older eggs. And cook the whites completely, if you can. But enough food for thought today, let's get some food for our tums."

She wrote up an Ingredients List for him. It just read:

  • 2 eggs per person

"Fill a fry pan with water 3 - 4 cm deep and heat to a boil," she instructed, "Break the eggs into a small cup and gently pour them into the water."

"Reduce to a low heat. Cook gently for 3 - 5 minutes until cooked to your liking, or when the yolk is set and the white is almost firm."

"Lift the eggs out using a slotted spoon or fish slice and drain. If water has got trapped on the sides, slit whites to drain it before serving."

"Ma," asked Hosh, while he was waiting for the eggs to cook, "Can you drop a real egg six feet and still not break it?"

"Only if you drop it seven feet," she answered, "it won't break for the first six."

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