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Eggnog - A Potential Holiday Hazard

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension


Did you know the name eggnog comes from the word noggin, a small mug or cup in which the drink was served in earlier days? Around the holidays, eggnog is a popular drink. But as you celebrate the holiday season, don't let eggnog spoil your celebrations.

"Old-fashioned" eggnog may contain raw eggs while the new "traditional" eggnog has cooked eggs to reduce the risk of salmonella food poisoning.


Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause diarrhea-like illness in people. The incubation period can be 12 to 72 hours, and symptoms can last four to seven days - not the way a person should start the new year.

So, how do you make your eggnog the safe way? Directions, which come from the Eggcyclopedia, a publication of the American Egg Board, make 12 one-half cup servings.

In a large saucepan, beat together 6 eggs, (one-fourth) cup sugar and (one-fourth) teaspoon salt, if desired. Stir in 2 cups skim or one-percent low-fat milk.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the heat. Stir in an additional 2 cups of milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. If you heat the mixture to higher than 160 degrees, it may have a cooked flavor.

Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight. Just before serving, pour into a pitcher. Garnish or add stir-ins, if desired and serve immediately.

Garnishes and stir-ins include chocolate curls, cinnamon sticks, extracts or flavorings, ground nutmeg, Maraschino cherries, orange slices, peppermint sticks, ice cream or whipped cream.

Please note that even when cooked, eggs and milk remain perishable foods. To keep eggnog chilled in a pitcher or punch bowl, freeze some it in cubes or a ring-shaped mold and use in the container to keep chilled. You also can stir in ice cream as a coolant.

Discard eggnog after it has set two hours at normal room temperature (sooner if you are in a warm room where the Yule log may be glowing), or once the frozen ring or cubes are melted.

Enjoy your holiday season without a tummy ache or frequent trips to the bathroom by following simple food safety rules. Keep hot foods hot. Keep cold foods cold. When storing, place in shallow containers to promote quick cooling and do so within two hours of serving.






Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009



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