My kids and I love eggnog. At the supermarket the other day when I was reaching for a carton, a fellow shopper warned me to avoid products containing raw eggs. Should I boycott eggnog altogether or are there safe alternatives?
Eggnog has been the signature beverage of upper crust Brits since the 17
century when large estates had adjacent farms with an abundance of eggs and dairy. Pioneer smoothie makers whipped up concoctions with the milk, eggs, spices, and to spike up the drink and warm the cockles of the heart in the dank, depressing winters added a splash of brandy, Madeira or sherry. Etymologists surmise that the name originated from a carved wooden beer mug called a “noggin,” typically used to serve alcoholic drinks.
Eggnog has become a celebratory and seasonal winter beverage around the globe with various cultures and countries adapting the recipe. The Mexican version known as
has a heavy-handed sprinkling of Mexican cinnamon and rum, the Germans enjoy an eggnog soup with beer, while in Puerto Rico rum and coconut milk are the weapons of choice in their
Whatever your eggnog druthers, make sure it has been prepared safely. As eggnog typically contains raw eggs, there is a risk of contracting salmonella infection (at highest risk are children, elderly folks, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems). This risk, however, is surprisingly low, and according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study, of the 69 billion eggs produced annually in this country, a paltry 2.3 million are tainted. This translates to .003 percent of the egg supply or 1 in 30,000 eggs. So your chances of meeting up with a bad egg are once in every 42 years.
Now, if you’re a self-proclaimed germaphobe (like this Kitchen Shrink) and are still worried about getting salmonella from raw eggs, this miniscule risk decreases even more dramatically with the use of high quality, cage free, organic eggs. And if that doesn’t give you a dose of comfort, then make sure your eggnog is made with pasteurized eggs. This process gently heats the eggs under controlled conditions to destroy microorganisms that could cause a food-borne illness. Fair warning – although pasteurization does not eliminate microorganisms altogether, it greatly reduces the risks. If whipping up your own homemade eggnog, you can buy pasteurized eggs by the dozen or in liquid form.
And always use your noggin when buying, handling and storing fresh eggs. Check the expiration date on the carton, and buy with a one-week or more leeway; discard cracked eggs and bloodshot ones, and always refrigerate.
Here are two recipes for safe eggnog -- one uses cooked eggs, the other is a vegan version without eggs, that is also a good choice for the cholesterol-conscious or egg allergics. Cheers!
(where possible, use organics)
4 egg yolks
16 ounces whole milk (3.25% milkfat)
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup cane sugar
3 ounces bourbon or rum
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
: Beat the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer until lemony yellow. Add the sugar and continue to beat until it is dissolved. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream and nutmeg, stirring frequently until it comes to a bowl. Pour into the egg mixture in the electric mixer bowl and gently blend. Return to the pan, and heat until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, add the bourbon or rum and extract, and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator. Ladle into eggnog or toddy glasses, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and gingerbread snaps.
Vegan Eggnog Ingredients:
2 cups almond or coconut milk
21 ounces firm silken tofu
2/3 cup golden brown sugar
1 cup cold water
1 cup bourbon or rum
2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
Method: In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the tofu, sugar and almond or coconut milk until a smooth texture forms. Add the water, rum or bourbon and extract until well incorporated. Refrigerate and chill. Before serving, place mixture in a blender with ice cubes, and process until frothy and ice is crushed. Serve in toddy or eggnog glasses, garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon sticks.
For additional holiday recipes email