Death by Pie?
November 25, 2010 1:51 AM   Subscribe

Can-I-Eat-This-Filter, Thanksgiving edition. Assembled an apple pie tonight, planned to bake it tomorrow morning, but accidentally put the egg white wash on the top crust tonight. If I keep it in the fridge all night and bake it tomorrow morning, it won't kill anyone, right? The wash is just egg white thinned with a little water, and I didn't put very much on before realizing my mistake. Thoughts?
posted by doift to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
As someone who eats raw cookie dough and pancake batter with something akin to reckless abandon, I'll wager that unless your guests get to the pie before you bake it, you're fine. :)

I have to say, though, that upon preview I had a rather strong mental image of a comically sinister-looking manifestation of salmonella (complete with twirly mustache) rising out of the pie crust whilst cackling and plunging its tentacles back in like the devious pastry phage I'm sure it considers itself. It was rather marvelous.

But then again I always did have a rather active imagination. Probably from the raw dough.

posted by patronuscharms at 2:02 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't worry about it. Last week I cracked an egg in the evening to brush a piece of pastry. I only needed a little bit of egg, so I put the rest in a tub in the fridge and had it the following morning for breakfast. I am still alive.
posted by Jakey at 2:03 AM on November 25, 2010

At worse it might be a little soggy. The pie will be fine.
posted by gomichild at 2:08 AM on November 25, 2010

If the egg wash has dried out when it comes to baking time, I'd probably egg-wash it again before putting it in the oven.

But no, it won't kill anyone. I leave egg-whites in the fridge for a couple of days sometimes before using them.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:22 AM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]

Assuming that you're immunocompetent, you have nothing to worry about. I make my grandmother's walnut cake with egg yolk & powdered sugar icing every winter (the icing doesn't get heated at all, it just hardens overnight in a cool place), and I never worry about eating it or serving it to others.

In your case, you'll be baking the pie either way, which would kill any potential pathogens regardless of whether they had time to reproduce and multiply.

I don't want to hijack your question, but I wish there were some sort of microbiology primer for non-biologists – as in, don't attempt to treat your common cold with antibiotics (there are still many countries where they can be purchased without prescription). Or, your pie will be fine, and this is why – it's generally safe to assume that your U.S. eggs are not salmonella vectors, but even if they are, you'd have to ingest an immense number of bacteria if you're a healthy adult, and chances are you'll bake your pie at a temperature high enough to kill them anyway. Any ideas?
posted by halogen at 2:55 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mmmmm, I want to point out that humans do not need to have too many Salmonella bacteria to become sick, as suggested by halogen's comment. It is true for some bacteria (One needs millions of Cholera bacteria) and not for other bacteria (toxic E. coli only needs 1-10 cells to make a human quite sick). Salmonella is in the middle somewhere, with ~100,000 needed.

Your pie is fine, though.

-Your friendly local microbiologist (assuming you live in Northern Germany.)
posted by Peter Petridish at 4:45 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you wanna get technical, it's the cold of the fridge that keeps Salmonella at bay, not whether or not the egg is in the shell. Salmonella bacteria are present inside the egg (they get there because the chicken herself is sick).

It's the "danger zone" of temperatures, where it's warm but not hot enough to cook the bacteria, which gets them reproducing like mad. Keep a Salmonella-infected egg refrigerated, or cook it solid, and you're safe.
posted by ErikaB at 7:56 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cook it.
Eat it.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2010

No problem. I buy boxes of egg white to augment my omelets. The label says that the whites should be used within a week of opening the container, so you're well ahead of even corporate ass-covering on this one.
posted by maudlin at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2010

You'll be baking the pie either way, which would kill any potential pathogens regardless of whether they had time to reproduce and multiply.

Yes, but some of the nastier microbial species produce toxins while alive. Even if you bake it, which kills the bacteria, the toxins remain behind.

That said, go ahead and eat it - you'll be fine.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:45 AM on November 25, 2010

Most macaron recipes call for aging egg whites on the counter for 24-48 hours. Salmonella needs nutrients to multiply, and whites don't really have much nutrition, especially compared to the yolk. It's when infected eggs are kept warm and the membrane between the white and the yolk thins enough for the bacteria to get through that salmonella can multiply in an egg.

If they're thoroughly cooked (to over 145 degrees), salmonella is not a problem anyway.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:39 AM on November 25, 2010

Yes, I was just about to say that during my insane and ultimately failed macaron-baking phase, I often left the whites out to age for days and no one died.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2010

I worked in a restaurant that specialized in breakfasts and we'd mix up buckets of scrambled eggs, to be used throughout the day, same with raw pancake mix (which had 2 dozen eggs), if it wasn't used that day it stayed in the fridge with a lid overnight and was used the next day

I'm not sure if that's the norm but no one ever got sick
posted by addelburgh at 1:50 PM on November 25, 2010

The pie was delicious. Thanks for the reassurances.

patronuscharms gets a best answer for being first, and for the cartoon character which I am now going to sell to a food-safety lobbying firm of some kind. Peter Petridish gets the best answer for his confidence-inspiring screen name.
posted by doift at 9:20 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

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