Chat Leftovers: Where to buy pasteurized eggs

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that unpasteurized eggs are recommended for pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. Pasteurized eggs are recommended. This version has been updated.

May 28

Oh, there’s a lot to read today. Let’s start with Tim Carman’s story about Daniel Giusti, the former Washingtonian who leads the kitchen at Copenhagen’s Noma, which has been called the best restaurant in the world. Then there’s Lesson 2 of Canning Class, Cathy Barrow’s series, with a recipe for pickled spring onions that’ll knock your socks off. And finally, Becky Krystal ventures deep into some caves in New York — okay, I’m exaggerating: The Wegmans grocery store chain has opened a unique high-tech cheese-aging building modeled after the cheese caves of Europe, and Becky takes us in for a look.

There’s more, of course, and you can find it all here. But first, take time out to join the Free Range chat, just about the most entertaining, edifying hour you’ll have all day. It starts at noon sharp every Wednesday, and it’s a chance for you to get questions answered, voice opinions or just generally hang out with the Food crew.

Have you noticed that the number of questions/comments/answers in each week’s discussion is tallied at the top of the main chat page? It’s always at least 60 — that’s one every minute! — and sometimes tops 100. But as efficient as we are, we can’t get to every single question, and that’s where I come in. Case in point: This leftover question from last week’s chat:

Where can I get pasteurized eggs in the Washington area? Safeway used to carry the Davidson’s brand but apparently no longer does. Harris Teeter also carried them for a while, but the ones I’ve called do not now. I have seen on the Web that one can pasteurize eggs oneself, but I am leery. Any thoughts on that?

Wow, that question turned out to be tricker than I thought. First, to my surprise, I too had trouble finding stores that sell them. Second, I ran into a slight communication problem: When I called to ask about pasteurized eggs, a few stores assured me they carried them, but later I realized that they thought I was talking about “pastured” eggs. Big difference.

Okay, so. As most of us know, raw eggs carry a slight — very slight — risk of salmonella. To be completely safe, some people like to use pasteurized eggs in foods where the eggs won’t be cooked — tartares, for example, or mayonnaise, or cocktails. Many sources recommend pasteurized eggs for pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems.

As far as larger grocery chains are concerned, it seems that Harris Teeter is a good bet. I don’t know which stores you checked, but I called several and found the Davidson’s Safest Choice in stock. The handful of Fresh Markets in our area also carry that brand.

I checked several Giant Food stores in the District, Maryland and Virginia and found none. Ditto for Whole Foods. Wegmans does not mention them in its handy online listing of products. I called a Safeway and was assured that though the stores have indeed stopped stocking Davidson’s, they sell a Safeway house brand. But I dropped by two Safeway stores in Arlington and found no evidence of any pasteurized eggs there. I’ll be happy to have someone from Safeway tell me I’m wrong, but I think the store employee misunderstood the question.

Or maybe the employee didn’t realize I meant eggs in the shell; all grocery stores seem to sell pasteurized egg whites in containers. Those could be useful for such things as meringues and mousses, except pasteurized whites don’t whip up as nicely as the raw ones.

Now, as to pasteurizing eggs at home: The U.S. Agriculture Department doesn’t want you to do it. It explains: “The equipment to pasteurize shell eggs isn’t available for home use, and it is very difficult to pasteurize shell eggs at home without cooking the contents of the egg.”

Far be it from me to recommend something the USDA says is bad. But there are home pasteurizing instructions (in many permutations) all over the Internet, and folks say they are following those instructions and living to tell about it. So, it’s a crapshoot. You decide whether to roll the dice.

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