Happy Easter to those readers who celebrate the holiday. Easter can be a time of excitement and family get together. Traditional foods like ham and Easter eggs are usually prepared for family and guests. Keep your Easter foods safe this year by following some basic rules of food safety.
Just recently the warmer weather has livened up everyone’s spirit. But with the warmer weather comes food being in the danger zone. Remember, the danger zone is the range of temperatures between 40 F and 140 F. If food is left in the danger zone for longer than two hours, it is unsafe to eat.
Ham is a highly perishable food. Even though it is high in sodium, bacteria will still grow. When buying a ham, refrigerate both vacuum packed and canned hams. Hams will keep in their original wrapping in the refrigerator for seven to 10 days. Vacuum packaged whole hams, unopened, will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.
When serving ham, remember the danger zone. The danger zone is the range of temperatures between 40 F and 140 F. If food is left in the danger zone for longer than two hours, it is unsafe to eat.
To store leftover ham, divide into smaller portions, wrap and refrigerate. If stored within one to two hours after cooking, leftover ham will keep in the refrigerator for four to five days. Freezing large portions of ham is not recommended because the quality usually deteriorates.
Hard cooked eggs in the shell are perishable foods also. After dyeing, refrigerate eggs until ready to eat. Died eggs should not be placed in Easter baskets!
Keep in mind some food safety rule for leftovers.
• Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours — 1 hour if the temperature was above 90 °F (32.2 ºC).
• Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.
• Use cooked leftovers within four days.
• Reheat leftovers to 165 °F (73.9 °C).
Here are five uses for leftover ham. Add ham to an omelet. Make a ham and asparagus cheese strata. Freeze small baggies for future use. Make ham and bean soup. Add small pieces of ham to a vegetable stir fry.
This is a quick and easy ham, egg and cheese casserole. Prepare it the night before and bake it in the morning for a hot breakfast ready to enjoy.
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
6 ounces ham, thinly sliced
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (or cheddar if that’s your favorite)
3 slices enriched white bread
3 slices whole wheat bread
1 cup skim milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dash onion powder
Lightly spray an 8” x 8” baking pan with non-stick spray. Lay 3 slices of bread in the bottom. Layer ½ the ham and ½ the cheese. Repeat layer of bread, ham and cheese. Beat together remaining ingredients and pour over the casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 325 degrees F; serve hot. Enjoy!
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at [email protected]