Q: Is it safe to make homemade eggnog?
A: Yes, you can make homemade eggnog, but it’s unsafe to consume if it is made with raw or partially cooked eggs. It is important for the cooking temperature to reach 160 degrees to kill bacteria, including salmonella. The same is true when making other holiday treats containing eggs — such as pumpkin chiffon pie. And, while baking holiday treats such as cookies and gingerbread, avoid licking the spoon or the mixing bowl if the batter contains uncooked eggs. Tasting cookie dough can be tempting, but bacteria could be lurking in those uncooked eggs.
To make homemade eggnog, heat the egg-milk mixture gently to 160 degrees, and use a food thermometer to check the temperature. The mixture should coat a metal spoon.
Here’s a holiday eggnog that you can compare to your favorite recipe. If you prefer using your own, just drop down to the directions to “keep it safe.”
1 quart of 2 percent milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Heat milk in a large saucepan until hot (do not boil or scald). While milk is heating, beat together eggs and salt in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugar.
Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while continually stirring.
Transfer the mixture back to the large saucepan and cook on medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens and just coats a spoon. The food thermometer should register 160 degrees. Stir in vanilla.
Cool quickly by setting the pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for about 10 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight.
Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped cream. Then dust with ground nutmeg and enjoy!
Calories: 135 per 1/2 cup
Cholesterol: 120 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Yield: 2 quarts
Here are some other tips using raw eggs in dishes that I often get questions on:
• Casseroles, quiches, sauces and other dishes containing eggs should all be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
• If you use raw eggs that won’t be cooked in a recipe such as a mousse, make it safe by heating the eggs in another recipe ingredient that’s liquid or melted, such as lime juice or chocolate. Warm the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees, then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe. Make sure the mixture doesn’t exceed 160 degrees, or the results may be “scrambled eggs.”
• To make key lime or lemon ice box pie safely, heat the lime or lemon juice with the raw egg yolks in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Then combine it with the sweetened condensed milk and pour it into a baked pie crust.
• Baked egg-rich desserts, such as creme brulée, molten chocolate cakes, custard or chiffon pies, also should reach 160 degrees in the center when measured with a food thermometer.
• Meringue-topped pies are safe if baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
• Dry meringue shells, which are baked in the oven, are safe. Divinity candy also is safe.
• Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites. However, “7-minute frosting,” made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites, is safe.
Q: If I add rum to the eggnog, will it make it safe without cooking it?
A: No, the rum won’t make it safe! Adding alcohol cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria.
Q: Purchased eggnog from a grocery store is safe, right?
A: Yes — if it’s pasteurized. Most commercially sold eggnog is pasteurized, but read the label to be sure. Pasteurized means that the product has been heated to a temperature high enough to kill any harmful bacteria that may have been present in the raw ingredients.
Q: Can I freeze eggnog?
A: Refrigerate commercially made eggnog for 3 to 5 days, and freeze it for 6 months. Refrigerate homemade eggnog for 2 to 4 days. It is not recommended to freeze homemade eggnog.
— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.