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Q: How long is it safe to eat Easter eggs after they've been boiled and dyed?

A: Easter eggs still in their shells and stored in the refrigerator should be safe to eat for up to a week, provided the eggs haven't been at room temperature for too long.

There's a two-hour safety window for eggs to be out of the refrigerator and at temperatures above 40 degrees F, so experts advise keeping the eggs refrigerated until you're ready to dye them and getting them back into the refrigerator as soon as possible if you're not going to eat them right away.

To be on the safe side, here are some safety tips from the American Egg Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Wash your hands before and after touching the eggs' shells. It's not only what's inside the shells but the shells themselves that can potentially be contaminated with salmonella.

If you plan to use your hard-boiled Easter eggs in an Easter egg hunt and want to eat them afterward, keep them away from lawn chemicals, pets and other animals.

Don't use any eggs that are cracked or broken, and if they become cracked during an Easter egg hunt, throw them away.

The American Egg Board suggests this cooking method for hard-boiled eggs: Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat and leave the eggs in the hot water for 12 minutes for large eggs and 15 minutes for extra-large eggs. Then drain the pan and run cold water over the boiled eggs.

If you don't like the idea of using commercial food coloring to dye eggs, you can make your own natural dyes out of fruits and vegetables, the organization says.

Use one cup of water per handful of coloring ingredients, enough to bring the water level to an inch over the contents in the pan.

Suggestions for natural dyes include using spinach for green eggs; yellow delicious apple peels for green-gold eggs; cranberries, beets, radishes or frozen raspberries for pink-red eggs; yellow onion skins, orange or lemon peels, celery seed, carrot tops or ground tumeric or cumin for yellow-orange eggs; and red cabbage or canned blueberries for blue eggs.

Bring your dye ingredients to a boil, then simmer them for 15 minutes to an hour until the color is the shade you want. Then strain the colored water into a bowl, add 2-3 teaspoons of white vinegar per cup of dye liquid and proceed with your egg dyeing.

This method is going to take a longer soaking time for the eggs than using food coloring. You may want to leave your eggs soaking overnight for deeper shades, though remember the two-hour limit for getting the eggs back into the refrigerator.