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Eggnog: Make it Now, Drink it Later

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Eggnog

Eggnog

Copyright 2010 Kevin D Weeks
For almost 50 years my father made eggnog on Thanksgiving weekend that would then age in a closet until Christmas. Allowing raw eggs to sit in a closet for a month and then drinking them may seem insane, but in fact it's safe (see below to learn why). And it also produces the most lusciously mellow nog you've ever had. However, if you are concerned about the issue you can also make it just before serving - it simply isn't as mellow. (Larger image.) Makes about 6 servings.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: About 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • Base Mixture:
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup rum (dark is best)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Finished Mixture:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preparation:

Base Mixture:
1. With an electric mixer, beat eggs until well mixed.

2. Combine bourbon and rum and add very gradually to the egg mixture; this should take about 15 minutes. If the alcohol is added too quickly, it will curdle the eggs, so take it slow.

3. Beat in the sugar - about 5 minutes - and store in a glass or ceramic jar or jug in a cool, dark place, but not a refrigerator for 3 - 4 weeks. The container should be covered loosely, but you want some air to get in.

Finished Mixture:
4. Whip the cream until almost stiff. Whip in vanilla and sugar.

5. Stir the base mixture and thoroughly mix into cream.

6. This nog will be very thick and you may wish to thin it somewhat with milk.

7. Serve in punch cups with a sprinkling of finely grated nutmeg.

The Safety Issue: In liquids, alcohol concentrations as low as 8 percent are enough to kill most bacteria. In the case of Dad's recipe, I calculated the alcohol content at 21 percent of the total — nearly 1/4 pure alcohol. And that's not counting the sugar, which is also a preservative (it disrupts the cell membranes ("skin") of microorganisms).

An experiment testing microbial levels was published (12/17/09) on NPR's Science Friday. The most interesting thing is that freshly made nog (with unpasteurized eggs) is more dangerous than nog made at least three weeks in advance. The theory is that although the alcohol alone isn't enough to kill all micro-organisms, it is high enough to prevent reproduction, so after 3 weeks all the bugs are dead.

I'm not advising you to ignore the FDA and if you're concerned about pathogens you can make the base just before using it and use pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs, like pasteurized milk, have been heated to a temperature sufficient to kill any pathogens. But personally, I plan to have several nogs of my father's Christmas cheer this December, made exactly the way he's always made it.

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