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Keep Your Eggnog Safe During the Holidays

Since eggnog is made with eggs, special precautions need to be taken to prevent your guests from becoming sick from a foodborne illness during the holidays. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy this holiday drink safely.

Nashville, Ark. – Chances are you have attended at least one holiday party this season. You will probably be attending several more. One of the favorites at holiday parties is eggnog. Traditional eggnog is made by combining raw eggs with milk or cream, sugar, flavorings and perhaps alcohol. Since eggnog is made with eggs, special precautions need to be taken to prevent your guests from becoming sick from a foodborne illness during the holidays.

            Homemade eggnog, a tradition in many families during the holiday season, can cause a foodborne illness from the bacteria Salmonella, which may be found in raw or undercooked eggs. Eggs are a standard ingredient in most homemade eggnog recipes, giving the beverage its characteristic frothy texture. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy this holiday drink safely.

            If you have a favorite family recipe that calls for uncooked eggs, simply substitute the eggs with a pasteurized egg product. These products are found in the egg case. There are several options on the market including whole eggs out-of-the-shell or low-cholesterol egg white products. These items differ from traditional eggs-in-the-carton. They are eggs which have been heated thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria.

            If you want to use raw eggs, you must cook the egg base to ensure the safety of the eggnog. It is easy to do and does not change the flavor or texture of your eggnog.

            Begin by combine the eggs and half the milk as indicated in the recipe in a saucepan. You may also add the sugar. Cook the mixture gently and at a low temperature until the internal temperature of the mixture reaches 160ºF. Stir constantly throughout this process. Otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs!

            Cooking eggs to 160ºF will destroy Salmonella, if present. Use a food thermometer to test the temperature of the mixture, or until the mixture firmly coats a metal spoon. Once cooked, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients. You can add your favorite spices before serving.

            Eggnog can be enjoyed as is without added ingredients. However, some people like to add rum, whiskey, or other alcohol to the recipe. There is a misconception that adding alcohol will kill any bacteria that may be in the raw eggs. This is not true!

            Be aware, there are a lot of calories in eggnog. When you add alcohol, you add calories. Just 1.5 ounces of rum adds 97 extra calories! Without alcohol, eggnog has 180 calories with 80 of them coming from fat in just a half cup serving. That’s a 4 ounce serving! Much of the fat in eggnog is saturated and can easily add up to the 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance for saturated fat intake. Even “light” eggnog can still provide up to 110 calories per serving. So, be aware of how much you are drinking and limit the amount you drink.

            On top of the fat calories found in eggnog, there is also a lot of sugar in the store bought varieties. They can have up to 4 or 5 teaspoons of sugar in a 4 oz. serving.

            So what’s the bottom line? Buy commercially prepared eggnog if you don’t want to make it from scratch. If you do want to make from scratch, make sure you prepare it properly to destroy any Salmonella that may be present. Look for lower fat and lower sugar versions of eggnog, and limit the amount you drink.

            A final thought…raw eggs have the potential to carry Salmonella bacteria. Do not eat or taste of any product that has raw eggs in it, including raw cookie dough!

            For more information on food safety during the holidays, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.  You can also check out the website, for more information.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great alternative to eggnog as a beverage for the holidays. This recipe makes 3 ½ quarts, enough for any holiday party.

Cranberry Orange Punch

2 (32 ounce) bottles cranberry juice cocktail, chilled

1 ½ cups lemon juice

2/3 cup sugar

2 (16 ounce) bottles orange soda, chilled

Ice or ice ring

1 orange, sliced

Whole cloves and cranberries (optional)

            In a large punch bowl, combine cranberry juice, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Just before serving, add orange soda and ice or ice ring. Garnish with orange slices decorated with cloves and whole cranberries, if desired. Very festive!

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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