why kids should play with raw eggs

July 19th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »

playing with raw eggsSprinkles’ vanilla cupcake mix calls for two egg whites—although the package says you need three eggs (?)—offering the perfect opportunity for Carter to advance from cracking eggs to separating eggs. Of course, gadget-lover that I am, I use an egg-separator, which looks something like the plastic kid-friendly Egg Yolky egg separator without the face and feet.

Instead of just tossing the yolks, I let Carter poke at them. I know. I know. Yes, there’s a risk of getting  a risk of getting  salmonella from raw eggs.* But I’d rather teach Carter to keep his hands away from his face when handling raw eggs and to wash his hands after than to have him afraid of touching an egg white or yolk.

Safety of the specific food aside, grownups sometimes forget how much fun—or yucky but still interesting—touching food can be. In terms of child development (one of the Baking with Carter blog themes), sensory and tactile experiences are essential—and baking is an easy way to provide them them, no expensive toys required. I still remember Carter saying in amazement, “It’s so soft!” the first time he touched all-purpose flour. So go ahead and let your kids touch softened butter, squish brown sugar in their hands, and , if you’re ok with it, poke an egg yolk.

Poking egg yolks can also be looked as as a science experiment. Carter tested how much pressure it took to break the yolks and then smeared them around in the bowl to study their viscosity. He asked: What would happen if he poured in water? Well, I said, hot-enough water could start to cook them. Otherwise? Not much. He dumped in a cup of water, which was room temperature, to see for himself. The water floated to the top; the heavier eggs sank.

Then I had him wash his hands with soap and water twice.

By the time the cupcakes came out of the oven, it was too late to eat them. In the morning, my aspiring baker brought me breakfast in bed: a cupcake, with lots and lots of red sprinkles, of course.

*Caution: Always wash hands with soap and water thoroughly after handling raw eggs. Do this activity only with children you can trust to keeps their hands away from their mouths and face. To be extra safe, use pasteurized eggs.



  1. Lindy says:

    Great way to teach food safety! Using pasteurized eggs also offers another avenue for learning. For example — how do they do that without cooking the eggs? And if they’re old enough — what is a 5 log reduction in pathogens?

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve read about flash pasteurization, but I must not be old enough (or school was too long ago!) to answer the second question. How’d you find the blog?

  3. Stacey says:

    Love this, it’s so true. I teach elementary school kids cooking and while I always want them to touch away (as you say, who doesn’t love the softness of flour, the gooey-ness of eggs, the sandiness of sugar) multiply it by 5 at a table and 3 tables and it’s a MESS. A fun mess, but definitely a mess! Most fun this week was after buttering some tins I told them to go ahead and just rub the leftovers into their hands. What?! Moisturizer I told them! You might pay big bucks for this treatment at a spa one day! In the end, I always give them a few touches, a few tastes, and then we’re down to business.

  4. admin says:

    Thanks for your comment. You sound like a fun teacher. Tactile exploration is so important fir kids, and baking and cooking are such easy ways to provide opportunities to touch and feel so many different textures. Carter started kindergarten this year, and I’m delighted that both his teacher and on-site childcare do so much hands-on food prep—stirring, sprinkling, spreading, etc.—with the kids. For Thanksgiving, the teacher cooked “stone soup” with vegetables that the kids brought in. Yesterday, Carter brought me a cupcake that he decorated like a turkey with candy corn and such. Ok, not the healthiest, but he was proud as a peacock when Mommy ate the whole thing!