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Amazing Pie Recipe calls for uncooked eggs, how safe is this?

I found a great "Frozen Key Lime Pie" Recipe, just made it last night according to all directions. First off, the recipe called for 6 egg yolks at "room temperature"-- I had them out for about an hour without cracking them, then got nervous and put them back in the fridge until I was ready to use them. While beating the eggs and sugar I felt very uncomfortable knowing that in the end the pie would be assembled (without having cooked the eggs) and then becoming frozen after about 10 hours in the freezer.

It looks great but I'm afraid to even taste it. After reading other no-bake pie recipes it didn't seem to matter much. Other recipes such as frosting with uncooked egg whites are something that I never considered due to the salmonella risk.

Should I throw this one away and start over? Would it change the texture of the pie if I were to bake the pie for 15 minutes on 325-350 and then freeze for 8-10 hours? Would I need to let the pie completely cool before freezing? I know that certain recipes are tricky and I'd like to make sure I get it right.

I appreciate any advice:) and tips

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  1. From what i understand, the acid from the lime cooks the eggs. Kind of Like ceviche where the citrus cooks the fish.

    11 Replies
      1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

        Perhaps, but "cooking" the egg in that fashion is not necessarily the same as killing pathogens with heat. Here's a link to a recipe that claims to sterilize egg yolks:


        1. re: GH1618

          So killing pathogens with acid is not the same as killing them with heat? really? Then, I am surprised any one in the world eats mayonnaise.

          1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

            The acid cannot be relied on to kill salmonella. Most people use commercial mayonnaise most of the time. This is made with pasteurized eggs, contains sufficient salt and vinegar to retard growth of bacteria, and is regularly tested.

            1. re: GH1618

              "The acid cannot be relied on to kill salmonella. Most people use commercial mayonnaise most of the time. This is made with pasteurized eggs, contains sufficient salt and vinegar to retard growth of bacteria, and is regularly tested."

              Ok, but what about the people who do make and consume homemade mayo and are fine? And the restaurants that make their own?

              1. re: ttoommyy

                Most eggs do not contain salmonella, and a healthy person can tolerate a little salmonella with little ill effect.

                It is a logical fallacy to generalize from the fact that most people do not get sick from eggs most of the time, to a conclusion that there is no health hazard from raw eggs. Obviously most people do not get sick, otherwise we we all would be eating our eggs hard. But some people do get sick from salmonellosis, up to about one million per year in the US according to one of documents I linked, and a few die from it. The risk is small, but people should no the risk and act accordingly, not just pretend there is none. If you want to eat raw eggs knowing the risk, that's fine. If you want to sterilize your eggs first, at least use a method that works. The recipe I posted which uses a microwave has been tested by microbiologists.

                1. re: GH1618

                  I like your concise reply, pretty much hitting on most bases.

                  But I worry that without perspective, some of your numbers may cause hysteria (Actually, I'm not very worried, I just want to debate the subject somewhat...).

                  Below, Steve thinks 1 in 10 000 is HIGH risk.

                  Now, people will read 1 MILLION cases of salmonella poisoning in the US.

                  OK, 1 million out of a population of 300 million is 1 in 300. Now theres some good odds, better than 1 in 10 000 (or 33 times greater chance)!

                  Its a godamned crisis...no! an EPIDEMIC of GRAND proportions! MY GOD, 1 MILLION!? We need Defcon4 and a serious lockdown - honey, throw out ALL our eggs!

                  However, we are talking specifically about eggs, yet salmonella poisoning can come from almost any source. Does anyone have stats on how the poisoning is broken down (how many from eggs, from beef/pork/chicken/vegetables, etc etc)? Anything to put the whole subject in perspective to allay the OP's fears?

                  Me, I'd be more worried about eating at a fast food place than eating a raw egg at home. Does this stop me from eating out? No, because the risk is still low. And like you say, If you want to eat raw eggs knowing the risk, thats fine.

                  1. re: porker

                    Just to get the numbers more in sync: the 1 in 300 statistic is "people per year." If each of them eats 33 eggs a year (and that sounds low to me), then the actual incidence was 1 in 10,000 eggs. Given your point about other sources, and assuming more eggs per person per year, the "1 in 20,000 eggs" mentioned below looks more in sync with 1M cases per year.

                    1. re: sweethooch

                      The 1M cases per year is from all sources.

                    2. re: porker

                      I don't have stats in front of me, but if I recall correctly most cases are from chicken and cross-contamination with things like greens that typically don't get cooked. That's from factory cross-contamination, not necessarily home cooking (although there's probably a bit of that too).

          2. the traditional recipe for Key Lime pie has always contained uncooked egg yolks, and it's still made and eaten across the state. In 25 years of living there, I don't recall having ever read about even 1 case of foodborne illness linked to Key Lime pie.

            (if you put meringue on it, you bake it for a few minutes, but not enough to cook the filling)

            1. How about Pumpkin Chiffon Pie? The yolks are put into a mixture which gets heated over boiling water, but I'm not sure how hot the mixture really gets. The whites are folded in later and do not get cooked at all.

              1. "First off, the recipe called for 6 egg yolks at "room temperature"-- I had them out for about an hour without cracking them, then got nervous and put them back in the fridge until I was ready to use them."

                Many countries (take Australia for example) do not refrigerate their eggs at all. They can be found in a regular aisle at the grocery store and on the counter in people's homes. Leaving an egg out for an hour or two is perfectly fine; I do it all the time.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ttoommyy

                  You are right. Eggs can be stored at room temp. Keep in mind that for every 24 hrs. at room temp the eggs age 1 week. So if you have purchased eggs to make deviled eggs or just hard cooked. Leave them out for a few days. It will make peeling them much easier.

                  1. re: Candy

                    I posted this above, but worth repeating (I think):

                    Refrigeration is an American thing, but please note that American producers also wash off a natural protective coating that other countries leave on. So it's a fundamentally different item that they are not refrigerating. In the US, I would advise keeping the eggs in the fridge (not that I see any problem with a few hours on the counter)..

                    That said, I also eat homemade mayo and raw cookie dough and other raw egg items (from a normal supermarket) with no concern or problems. The risk is low.

                2. A Christmas favorite in our family is Rum Cream Pie, which my great-aunt always makes. This year, I asked her if I could help her make them, so I could learn her secrets. A dozen raw egg yolks for three pies! From memory, the ingredients are egg yolks, sugar, heavy cream, gelatin, rum - nothing that would "cook" the egg yolks. The ingredients get combined, the filling is poured into pie crusts, and the pies are frozen. No cooking whatsoever. We've been eating them as long as I can remember, and no one has ever gotten sick. Can it happen? Sure, any food can spoil. And I might not feed it to anyone whose health is iffy. But you can believe that we will have Rum Cream Pies at Christmas as long as I live!

                  1. I've made French Silk pie with raw eggs for many years, and served it to many, many people with no problems. And I'll second the others pointing out the refrigerating eggs is mostly an American thing.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: arashall

                      Agreed, my family often left the eggs out on the counter in Europe and they aren't necessary refridgerated in the store. We're extremely over-protective in North America.

                      1. re: FrenchSoda

                        Y'all are correct that refrigeration is an American thing, but please note that American producers also wash off a natural protective coating that other countries leave on. So it's a fundamentally different item that they are not refrigerating.

                        That said, I also eat homemade mayo and raw cookie dough and otherwise eat regular raw eggs (from a normal supermarket) with no concern or problems. There is a risk, but it's very low.

                    2. In Alton Brown's mayonnaise episode he leaves the made mayo on the counter so the acid in the lemon juice can go to work on the buggies and such in the mayo.
                      As such, I would think there's enough acid in the key limes to keep anything harmful in check.

                      I make my own mayo and keep it around for weeks in the fridge. I doubt the little bit of time it spends outside the fridge to final consumption will be enough to harm you.


                      1. The odds of you getting sick from raw eggyolks is extremely low, however if you are totally freaked out about it, buy pasteurized eggs.

                        1. You are in luck. It is the height of the key lime season. Accept no substitutes. The juice is yellow, not green. And this recipe was designed before refrigerators were wide spread. The sweetened condensed milk is used to offset the extremely tart limes. 6 yolks seems way overboard, but then I have never had one last long enough to freeze. Mine only calls for one. And it is optional.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                            what recipe do you use, IR?

                            Mine's a can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/3-1/2 cup Key lime juice (varies from batch to batch), and 2-3 egg yolks. Stir and pour into a pie shell. (and no, you can't use Persian lime juice - it doesn't have enough acidity to set the filling -- YOU know that, IR, but others may not)

                            If desired, beat the egg whites with a little sugar to make a meringue, brown at 375 for 7-10 minutes and refrigerate til firm.

                            (that's how a lady from Key West and several folks from the Bahamas taught me how to make it)

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Regular pastry pie crust, not the ones from the elves. I got my recipe from the Pie Lady on I think Islamorada Key back in 1973. Her pies set the standard throughout the Keys. Sold out of a little shack with I think 4 stools at the counter. The recipe is the same as yours. The key limes from the back yard were so tart, I didn't need the yolk for thickening as much as for a richer taste.

                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                In the Abacos, they make the crust with Ritz crackers -- the sweet/salty is awesome.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Mango's in Marsh Harbor? Or the baker in Hope Town, Elbow Cay?

                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                    the Bite Site on Man o'War. (I don't even know if it's still there -- I all but lived there in the early 80s.)

                            2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                              Thank you, very helpful reply! The recipe is from Ina Garten, I'd love to cut the egg yolk in half to about 3 if possible. Do you think that if I added corn starch, gelatin, or jello instant pudding powders it would help thicken the filling?

                              1. re: hearts4u

                                Please please please don't.... All of the above would ruin it.

                                If you haven't topped it yet, put it in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes to help it set up.

                                1. re: hearts4u

                                  If you want to make a real Key lime pie the way that people in Florida make it, you'll find my recipe just upthread a few posts -- 2-3 egg yolks, tops.

                                  Just please, please, please don't put whipped cream on it, and for the love of all that is sacred, don't put green food coloring in it. Key lime pie is yellow.

                              2. Just one company holds the patent to in-shell heat pasteurized eggs. That is National Pasteurized Eggs inc. (you can wiki them for more info)
                                There is a store locater and retailer list at this link to find this product ...

                                1. Eat the pie, it sounds delicious!

                                  Salmonella lives on the outside of eggs. Your odds of getting an egg with some salmonella on it are around 1 in 10,000 (possibly less, if you don't live in the Northeast). It's really not something to worry much about. If you're cooking for someone with a weekend immune system, seek out pasteurized eggs.

                                  I am not a food scientist (although I am a research scientist by trade), but I've made tons of homemade mayo (raw egg, oil, and acid), citrus tarts (pretty much the same as the key lime curd), and meringues (whipped egg whites). I've also had tons of steak tartare (raw beef held together by raw eggs). I'm fine. People have been eating these foods for hundreds of years. They're nothing to be scared of!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: caseyjo

                                    Salmonella can be found inside eggs. It can infect the egg before the shell forms.

                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      It can, but it's far less likely. Even when hens are artificially injected with tons of salmonella, they only lay eggs infected at the yolk about 4% of the time (ref: http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publ...). I should have been more precise though. If you indeed have an egg infected with salmonella (already unlikely), it's much more likely that the salmonella is on the shell.

                                      Regardless, eating the raw egg is statistically less dangerous than driving to the store to buy some eggs.

                                      1. re: caseyjo

                                        Probably so. A lot of eggs are cooked and eaten "easy" as well as eaten raw in caesar dressing and fresh mayonnaise. Nevertheless, there are thousands of cases of salmonellosis annually in the US, and a few deaths resulting from it:




                                    2. re: caseyjo

                                      ITA that eating raw eggs is no problem, people do it all the time (me too), but I am very surprised to hear that they don't have to be refrigerated as has been talked about on this thread. I was under the impression that proper handling was crucial.

                                      I am normally insouciant when it comes to food safety, but 1 in 10,000 sounds like a HIGH risk to me. Couldn't a neigborhood's grocery stores sell hundreds of cartons per week?

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        Its the perceived risk which is high.
                                        Lotsa people don't fly in airplanes, "because they crash all the time", yet statistically, its likelier to die in a car crash (and while I'm at it, lotsa people don't go to Mexico "because its too dangerous" yet statistically its likelier to get murdered in many a US (or Canadian for that matter) city - I know I'm generalizing like caseyjo, but you get the point).
                                        If you eat 10 000 eggs, it does not mean you will be exposed to salmonella. Similarly if you roll a die 6 times does not mean you will obtain a snake eye in at least one of those rolls.

                                        I've been enjoying Ramos Gin Fizz for years and years without worry. Not saying the risk is zero, but sufficiently low enough to be wory free for me.

                                        In general, we have become a risk-averse society. People's opinion on risk is distorted - in general we worry about many things with no basis. In other cases, we have a false sense of security.
                                        Back asswards if you ask me.
                                        Oh yeah, don't ever ever EVER watch "Monsters Inside Me", hehe.

                                        1. re: porker

                                          The Egg Board (the incredible, edible egg people) put the risk at half of that -- about 1 in 20,000

                                          Steve, as was mentioned upthread-- the countries that do not refrigerate eggs also don't put them through a high-temperature pressure wash, either -- which the US does.

                                          It seems that there's quite a bit of evidence that this is a major factor in the contamination of US eggs, although the camps are divided as to whether it's because the washing removes the natural protective coatings of the eggs, or because the high-pressure wash actually forces some of the gunge through the porous shell.

                                          Either way, foodborne illness is somewhere in the range of five TIMES as prevalent in the US as in western Europe...even though the US is far more obsessive about food safety than most of western Europe.

                                          1. re: porker

                                            I think it's a good point that a 1/10,000 chance does not mean that you will be exposed if you eat 10,000 eggs. It'a a 1/10,000 chance each time, since each egg counts as an independent event.

                                      2. I'm curious why you would term a recipe "amazing" and "great" when you are afraid to even taste it.

                                        1. I personally think the risk of getting salmonella is really low.
                                          Of course, if you are elderly, very young or have a compromised immune system (not like, I have the flu, but the I'm taking anti rejection drugs for my transplanted liver kind of compromise) you would want to watch your consumption of raw eggs.
                                          I wouldn't have any issue eating raw eggs, and I do frequently with Caesar Salad.
                                          I don't think cooking the pie in the oven for 15 minutes would kill any salmonella.
                                          AND I don't think you'd enjoy this pie knowing that there are raw eggs in it, as that seems to be something you just aren't comfortable with. I doubt that all the info on CH will really change your mind, so you might have to find another but less traditional recipe that meets your needs.

                                          1. Why would I be worried about room temperature eggs? The supermarkets don't fridge them and I only put them in the fridge at home to save space on the counter top.

                                            19 Replies
                                            1. re: Harters

                                              Eggs are always refrigerated in the U.S., and are (generally) perceived as dangerous if they have been outside of the fridge for more a few minutes.

                                              1. re: caseyjo

                                                Perhaps yet another social difference between America and Europe.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  And Central America and South America and Australia and Asia and Oceania...Don't know about Antarctica, though likely they have to actually keep them warm...

                                                2. re: caseyjo

                                                  I don't know where you get this "generally" notion. We do refrigerate eggs, but I have never known someone to think an egg becomes dangerous after only a few minutes. Cooks commonly allow eggs to come to room temperature before use, here as likely everywhere else.

                                                  The FSIS recommends using an egg within two hours after removal from refrigeration. This is no doubt a conservative rule of thumb.

                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                    I think the point being made is that there is an obsessive "fear" reaction that alot of people have to anything sitting on a counter more than 10 minutes. I've seen that quite a bit here on CH -- just look through past threads about leaving food out on the counter for more than an hour. -- should I throw it out? will I die if I eat it??? OMG!!!!!
                                                    This fear is passed on to eggs and any product with raw eggs (heLLO Caesar Salad), followed inevitably with links to Government departments, salmonella statistics and so on.
                                                    I really do thing people are far more fearful than they need to be (and yes I've suffered intense food poisoning but never from eggs) and that the actual incidence of significant illness (aka more than a little bit of stomach rumbling) is often blown out of proportion (unless you choose to eat at a Jack-in-the-Box or scrape stuff off the floor after 2 weeks and eat it). After all, it really is in the food industry's best financial interests if we throw stuff out and buy new, hence the fear mongering? Of course there is a balance between safe food handling and proper food storage and living one's life, but seriously, eggs on the counter to room temperature then put in a pie that is frozen is nothing that one needs to worry too much about.

                                                    1. re: freia

                                                      Yes, that was exactly what I meant. I certainly know many people who don't have these worries, however many people my age (mid-twenties) did not grow up cooking. Government recommendations for food safety are very conservative, and seem to inspire quite a bit of fear.

                                                      1. re: caseyjo

                                                        The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if somehow Big Food is tied to Government Regulations, as in the more food we are urged to pitch out, the more we'll buy "brand new'. I mean, if you look at the whole concept of 'best before" dates, there definitely IS a need to know when something was made. But alot of times, these dates are ridiculously short and I don't see them as making the food supply safer. I see them as encouraging people to chuck stuff out and get more. I know, it may be silly, but people really do chuck alot of perfectly good stuff out based on these dates, and that is a result of fear that is created by outside agencies....now if you'll excuse me, I have to wrap my head in tinfoil IMMEDIATELY so the CIA doesn't track me down by sending radio waves through my fillings....

                                                        1. re: freia

                                                          I'm torn between whether it's as you described or the paranoid reaction to an overzealously litigious society.

                                                          The manufacturers don't want to be sued into oblivion, so they put a short sell-by date, then government sees this and says oh there must be something we're missing so we'll tighten the regulations....which means there's a manufacturer who was lagging in getting the new labels ready, which made them vulnerable to the 7-figure lawsuit that Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe then files....so the next manufacturer shortens their sell-by date...

                                                          ...and so on...and so on...and so on.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            I know, its a balance. I know that were were studies done where people were given perfectly good items with a false best before date and reported that the food was "bad" based on the date. There is a difference between the best before date and use by date, too. I'd be more cautious with a use by date that has gone by than I would be with a best before date which is a manufacturer's recommendation. And that is where the conspiracist in me jumps up just a bit.
                                                            Edited to add: some countries have the two dates, which are separate and distinct..

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              No, the "sell by" date is to ensure product quality. Government guidelines and regulations for avoiding food poisoning are not driven by producers "sell by" dates — they are driven by science and by experience.

                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                sorry, maybe I need to share freia's tinfoil hat.

                                                            2. re: caseyjo

                                                              Many people my age (mid-sixties) did not grow up cooking, either. Perhaps it's a generational thing, or perhaps individual, but while I agree that food safety guidelines and regulations are very conservative, I see this as an example of government regulators doing their job diligently, and am certainly not inspired to fear. What I would find fearful is an unregulated food supply system.

                                                          2. re: GH1618

                                                            Eggs can also be left outside for a week without spoiling. I own a bakery and have never refrigerated eggs (probably because I use them within 3 days of purchase), but nope - never an issue. I think some countries just go beyond logic at times.

                                                        2. re: Harters

                                                          Shh.. Harters, if they figure out that our orangey-yellow room-temperature eggs actually have flavor, they'll all be over here to buy them up.

                                                          Let's keep this between us, savvy?

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            I'm only 51 years old and I can well remember that as a child that eggs were just stacked up, unrefrigerated, at the (American) grocery store. I do not doubt that eggs will keep better and stay fresh longer if they are kept cold.

                                                            I have my own small flock of laying hens. We generally keep the eggs in the refrigerator but I have been known to use eggs still warm from the chicken.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Whoops, sunshine, I forgot.

                                                              My favourite eggs come from the farmers market. All organic, and specific to the breeds of hen she raises. Fab.

                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                I'd warrant your chances of getting sick from an egg that had been refrigerated pretty much from the time it was laid until it appeared on your plate would be about the same as plummeting to death in a fireball on your next plane flight.

                                                          2. This past weekend I encountered a similar issue...recipe called for pasteurized eggs, and I didn't have any. I searched online and found that people put the (large) eggs in 140 degree water for 3 minutes, and that 'pasteurizes' it. Doubt it is as good as the real thing, but better than nothing.

                                                            1. I seem to recall Marion Nestle explaining in her book "What to Eat" that much of the problem with eggs comes from when they are stored with eggs from a gazillion other farms in an industrial facility, and all of a sudden one farm's problem is shared among all the eggs. I believe she suggested that farmers market eggs were in part safer merely because they hadn't been exposed to other eggs. So, for a recipe that calls for raw eggs, maybe shell out a couple extra bucks for eggs at the farmer's market?

                                                              1. partly in response to all the posters above:

                                                                the acid in mayonnaise kills pathogens. You're even not supposed to put mayo in the fridge when you first make it so that the vinegar can do its job; it doesn't do it's job at low temperatures.

                                                                Salmonella in eggs occurs on the order between 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 40,000, and even then, it may be too smal an amount to make you sick.
                                                                Sure, salmonella is on like 1 in 20 CHICKENS, but that's the thing about eggs, because of what they are, they're like little sterile canned food thingies naturally.

                                                                The lime juice in the recipe should help kill any pathogens. And freezing should help too. Anyway, there's low risk anyway.

                                                                I've been using raw egg yolk more recently for sauces I make as an emulsifier.

                                                                I really don't think there's anything to worry about

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: peanuttree

                                                                  "they're like little sterile canned food thingies naturally"
                                                                  I think I saw this quote in the International Journal of Information Science

                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                    Well, I thought the general idea was obvious, but if you want to be a stickler:

                                                                    The egg is designed to house a growing baby chicken embryo. This embryo ain't in a shell for no reason - it's protection from the world. Not just physical, but chemical/infective-agent protection. The process in which the egg is formed inside the chicken is designed to create an internally sterile/sanitary egg. If it didn't, chicks wouldn't really survive.

                                                                    Like how coconuts internally are sterile, you know?
                                                                    Shouldn't be a hard concept. Nature does this sometimes, it's a pretty necessary thing sometimes.

                                                                    Which is of course not to say that every single egg ever laid was perfectly sterile inside, but nature is pretty successful at achieving its goal, and I really shouldn't have to explain that I'm not dealing in absolutes, should I?

                                                                    1. re: peanuttree

                                                                      I know what you meant, I just thought your wording was cute.
                                                                      Sorry to offend, but that was not my intent, I add mr. Guy Smiley {;-/) whenever I'm tryng to be lighthearted.

                                                                  2. re: peanuttree

                                                                    The assertion that eggs are "sterile" is false. Salmonella can infect the egg as it is developing, and live inside the hatched egg.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                      Yes, but it only happens in one out of over 20,000 eggs. You have a better chance of hitting the big money on a lottery scratch-off.

                                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                        It is about 1 in 20,000 overall, but the instances are not evenly distributed. Salmonella poisoning occurs in outbreaks, so in particular areas at particular times the rate can be much higher. Even at the low rate, people who eat only five eggs a week stand a pretty good chance of getting an infected egg in their lifetime.

                                                                        The rate is kept low by regulation and inspection. You may remember that half a billion eggs were recalled in the US in 2010 because of an outbreak.

                                                                        As for the lottery scratch-off — I don't play, but big money odds appear to be that low only for cards with a relatively low top payout. Odds for big-money cards are much worse.

                                                                  3. Here's a link to an informative slideshow on salmonella in eggs, from the USDA: