For many, the Easter holiday is not complete without decorating hard-boiled eggs and the annual Easter egg hunt.
When I was young, eggs were usually colored Easter weekend and often not refrigerated for days. Now, of course, we have food safety guidelines and eggs used for the Easter egg hunt are often plastic or chocolate. To safely enjoy hard-boiled eggs this Easter, use the following guidelines provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, which can be found in their entirety at www.fsis.usda.gov.
• At our high elevation, water boils at a lower temperature and some foods, including hard-boiled eggs, require a longer cooking time. For instance, water boils at 212 degrees at sea level but boils at only 198 degrees at 7,500 feet elevation. To compensate for our high elevation, add one minute of boiling time for every 1,000 feet above sea level.
• Only use eggs that have been refrigerated and discard eggs that are cracked or dirty.
• When decorating, be sure to use food-grade dyes. It is safe to use commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring and fruit-drink powders. When handling eggs, be careful not to crack them, allowing bacteria to enter the egg through the cracks in the shell.
• Keep hard-cooked Easter eggs chilled on a shelf inside the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door.
• Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other potential sources of bacteria.
• Don’t leave eggs out at room temperature for more than two hours before refrigerating. Be sure the found eggs are washed and re-refrigerated and eaten within seven days after cooking.
• When blowing out eggshells, use only eggs that have been kept refrigerated and are uncracked. To destroy bacteria that may be present on the surface of the egg, wash the egg in hot water and then rinse in a solution of one teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach per half cup of water. After blowing out the egg, refrigerate the contents and use within 2 to 4 days.
If you want to avoid using real eggs, here are some ideas that are both fun and festive and don’t require refrigeration:
• Make pine cone Easter eggs. Use acrylic paints or water color for decoration.
• Find rocks which are shaped like eggs and paint them in vibrant colors.
• Make wooden eggs and color them with sharpies, glue buttons or photos.
• Felted wool eggs are great when kids are young as they are soft, delicate and easy to make.
What better symbol for the beginning of spring than the Easter lily with its beautiful, bell-like flower and wonderful fragrance.
There are a number of popular cultivars of the Easter lily, including some that grow from 18 inches to 3 feet in height. Care of your Easter lily during the holiday is easy and will bring enjoyment for weeks after the holiday.
Inside the white flowers are pollen-bearing golden anthers, or the male part of the flower. Most people prefer to remove these because by removing the pollen, the flower doesn’t become pollinated and the blossoms often last longer. In addition, the golden yellow pollen stains clothing very easily if someone brushes up against it. The anthers are easily removed as soon as the flower opens, which is usually before the pollen is freed. Just reach in and gently twist or pull or use a pair of scissors.
Easter lilies do best in indirect, bright light or curtain-filtered sunlight when in flower. Cool, nighttime temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees help extend the bloom period. Daytime temperatures no higher than 68 degrees are ideal. Keep the soil moist while in flower, but don’t fertilize at this time.
Easter lilies can be planted in Colorado gardens with varied success. They are not particularly cold-hardy, however, so you may lose them in a cold winter without significant snow cover. If you do want to give it a try, remove the lily flowers after they bloom and clip any browning leaves. Place the plants in a sunny area and water as the foliage matures. As soon as the danger of frost is past, plant the lily in a sunny, well-drained garden spot. Pick a warm micro-climate with protection from winds or against a rock wall for collecting radiating heat.
Seed potato varieties now being sold
Orders are now being taken for Colorado-certified Seed Potatoes grown at the CSU Experiment Station in the San Luis Valley. Varieties being sold for only 50 cents per pound are Sangre (red), Purple Majesty (blue), the standard Yukon Gold (white) and Mountain Rose (pink). Approximately 2 pounds will plant a 10-foot row. To place your order, please call the Archuleta County Extension office at 264-5931. Orders may be picked up May 7 and planted after May 11.
CPR and first aid
CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931. We will also schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid, $55 for individual CPR or first aid and $35 for recertification with proof of current certification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.