One of the common accidents in the kitchen is leaving food uncovered overnight.
It can be dough, steamed vegetables, or freshly broken eggs on the counter.
Some foods like vegetables carry no harm when treated this way, but others do.
So, Is It Safe to Bake with Eggs Left Out Overnight?
The answer to that question is “No.” It’s both unsafe and shockingly unacceptable to use stale eggs as an ingredient for cakes.
Stale Eggs Are Prone To Salmonella infection, says FDA
You have to believe the FDA when they flag a food item or drug as unsafe. According to their advisory, beaten eggs left to stand in the open for a long time are at risk of acquiring Salmonella, a fairly common group of bacteria with clinical significance.
Would You Chomp On Salmonella Cakes?
You don’t want to feed on Salmonella cakes.
This group of bacteria is one of the top causative agents of food poisoning in the U.S.
While eggs aren’t the only food you’ll catch them, it’s the likeliest route they might use to get into your gut, and can be through a contaminated cake.
Wait! How Serious Is Salmonella Poisoning?
Symptoms start to show within 12 – 72 hours of infection.
Diarrhea and fever are normally the first to strike then vomiting and stomach cramps set in.
Unless you seek treatment immediately with antibiotics, the bacteria will spread quickly into the intestines, bloodstream, and attack other organs, increasing the likelihood of hospitalization and or death.
Immunocompromised individuals like those living with HIV, organ transplant patients, cancer patients, infants, and expectant mothers are at a higher risk of succumbing to Salmonella poisoning.
So How Long Should Beaten Eggs Stay In The Open?
According to the FDA guidelines, don’t beat your eggs and leave them in the open for more than 2 hours.
Some chefs would shrug off this recommended idle time and, instead, stress the need for better sanitary practices within the cooking environment.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how clean the kitchen is or how often you wash your hands, beaten egg left in the open for more than 2 hours is still unfit for cakes.
However, in most other countries that don’t wait for the FDA to tell them what to do with food and drugs, open eggs can be left unrefrigerated for up to 7 hours.
Umm…Dirty cake? Anyone?
Forget about Salmonella for a second, there’s another risk – kitchen debris.
You know how hard it is to keep the kitchen are sparkling clean.
Specks of smoke, soot, dust, stray flour, and flying blobs of oil all stand a chance of landing on your beaten eggs.
The longer the egg stays there in the open, the higher the chances.
You might not see these contaminants once they land in the bowl but can end up ruining the taste of your cakes at the end.
Egg ‘Skin’ And Curdling Ruins Your Egg Even Further
Beaten eggs sometimes behave like milk. When left in the open for a long time, they often form a thin ‘skin’ on the surface that can harden up and ruin the prospects of making a great cake.
Depending on the conditions in the room, the whole liquid may curdle as well.
You might ask, “what’s wrong with just removing the skin and throwing away?”
Don’t do that. It’s bad kitchen practice to let a precious ingredient spoil or throw away just like that.
Are Curdled Eggs REALLY Bad For Cakes?
Yes, certainly. Don’t get it wrong – curdled eggs are still fit for consumption if they don’t have any other issues, they are just unfit for baking.
The job of eggs in the whole baking process is to contribute the best structure for your cakes.
They do so with their white and yolk.
However, to do that, the yolk and white must coagulate during the baking process (in the oven), not during overnight storage. That’s why curdled eggs are near useless in baking.
Beware! Beaten Eggs Can Absorb Odors Or Lose Their Flavor
Two risks are involved when you leave some type of food in the open for a long time.
If the food isn’t very scented, it can pick the strongest smell around.
If the food is very scented, it’s likely to lose part of the flavor.
As you may have noticed, even the least scented foods like fresh corn tend to become tasteless when left in the open, indoors, overnight.
The same can happen to your bare eggs.
For instance, fried foods normally flood the air with an oily scent that sticks on surfaces with time. The open eggs might pick this scent and impart it on your cakes – not nice.
Also, if the eggs stay open for, say, 24 hours (damn! that’s a full day), chances are high part of the flavor will be lost by the time you embark on baking.
Refrigerate Your Eggs Instead
If you must store your beaten eggs overnight for a later baking task, place them in the fridge to keep them fresh and free from contamination.
While it’s perfectly OK to freeze them in their shells (not for months though), the best practice involves beating the whites and yolk together and freezing them thereafter.
Room-Temperature Eggs Are Actually The Best For A Perfect Cake
As far as baking is concerned, eggs at room temperature are better than cold eggs straight from the fridge. Just make sure you use them within 2 hours of staying open.
Room-temperature eggs outperform frozen eggs in the preparation of quality cakes because baking itself is a temperature-sensitive affair.
Frozen eggs will certainly affect the baking time. That’s because they must “thaw” first.
As such, the cake will take longer to bake than prescribed by the recipe (one ingredient is just super cold than it should be).
In such a case, start by warming your frozen eggs for some time before mixing them with other ingredients.
I Still Want My Beaten Eggs To Stay In The Open, Overnight, Then Make Cakes With Them. What Should I Do?
There’s very little you can do to rid of the aforementioned risks. Maybe – just maybe – start by ensuring your cooking area, or storage area is impeccably clean.
It’s A Little Easier To Avoid Salmonella Than You Think
Perhaps the surest way to keep Salmonella away from your beaten eggs is to wash the shells first before breaking.
Oftentimes, salmonella infection is a result of unsanitary handling.
It has been found that the bacteria cross from chickens to eggs via droppings.
That’s why poultry farmers (and you) are advised to wash the shells first before dispatching or using the eggs.
So start by washing the shells with clean hot water if you intend to store your beaten eggs overnight. There’s more to worry about, of course.
And How Do You Stop The Curdling Part?
That’s one of the hardest things to prevent. Once an egg is beaten, every minute it stays open increases the prospects of curdling.
If you can’t cover the bowl, you must warm them at low temperature once in a while for the entire time to keep it fresh and liquid enough for baking.
To summarize everything, beaten eggs left out overnight are unfit for cake preparation.
If you must use such eggs in baking, be certain to protect them from Salmonella infection, curdling, and debris – a hard task.