Guidelines to making eggnog like George Washington

Published 3:23 pm Friday, December 11, 2020

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The last line of George Washington’s Christmas eggnog recipe may be the most important, “Taste frequently.”

Mindfulness of foodborne illness ensures eggnog drinkers can safely enjoy this traditional holiday libation—typically consisting of milk, sugar, spices and raw eggs—by following a few basic food safety tips.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend refrigerating foods containing eggs promptly after cooking. Symptoms of bacterial salmonella exposure usually appear within six hours to six days, causing digestive distress or worse for those with compromised health.

Eggnog made with cooked custard can eliminate those concerns, said Mary Rapoport, consumer affairs and educational director for the Virginia Egg Council.

“Years ago, when folks weren’t concerned about salmonella, they just used raw eggs in eggnog,” Rapoport said.

Today, most recipes call for a cooked custard. To make it, simply stir the eggnog mixture over medium heat until the eggs thicken, heating to 160° or higher, Rapaport said. Cover and refrigerate.

This method ensures food safety, plus caloric density. But skim milks or nut-based beverages won’t cut it, Rapoport said.

“It’s pretty high-fat, but come on, it’s only once a year. Go for it.” she said. “A trick I like—float ice cream in it. It keeps it cool, and gets creamier as it melts.”

Eggnog specifics and other egg recipes are available at

Washington’s eggnog recipe reads like a boozy craft cocktail from the drink list of a trendy nightspot—loaded with rum, rye, brandy and sherry. But recipe variations on the classic Christmas concoction abound, including nonalcoholic versions.

Eggnog produced and packaged by Virginia creameries can save time and allay contamination concerns. Dairy operators Coley Jones Drinkwater and Erin Jones of Richlands Creamery in Nottoway County created a cheeky social media video that shared a technique for how to best enjoy their eggnog: Buy some, remove the cap, and pour.

Rose Jeter, marketing director for Homestead Creamery in Franklin County, said its classic eggnog has the perfect balance of flavorful spices, eggs and cream.

“No matter how you serve it, it’s sure to bring holiday cheer,” Jeter said. “Better yet, we’ve churned it into an ice cream flavor too!”

Rapoport’s leftover eggnog also makes an impression at breakfast in eggnog French toast.

“We don’t want people to waste their homemade eggnog,” she said. “Mix the eggnog with beaten eggs, and use thinner pieces of toast. It’s really creamy and wonderful.”