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Uncooked Eggnog - Safe?

Hi all,

I'm making eggnog for a holiday party tomorrow, and I'm just feeling a little unsure about the whole raw egg thing. I know there are plenty of recipes out there that solve the problem by suggesting making a custard base first (heating the egg mixture up to 160 degrees). I'll probably end up doing this, but the non-cooked kind holds more appeal for me. If I weren't serving it to guests, I'd just chance it and do it uncooked. I guess my questions is: in this day and age, if I buy fresh responsibly raised eggs (veg feed, no antibiotics, cage free, etc), is there reason to worry? Can I do it uncooked?

I've seen some folks refer to pasteurized whole eggs, but damned if I can find them here in Boston. That, obviously, would solve all the problems. The only pasteurized products I can find are the liquid eggs in cartons, which seems like not what you want for eggnog.

Your wisdom is appreciated.

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  1. I've made both regular eggnog and rompope (Mexican eggnog) yearly and have never had a problem with using raw eggs. I think it depends on the crowd, some people are squeamish about that sort of thing, though a great homemade eggnog usually wins them over.

    Also made with raw eggs, this year will be my first time making Tom & Jerry's - I'm hoping they'll be as good as those served at No 9.

    1. I've made eggnog from raw eggs since the 70s and never had a problem. Don't know if the large amount of alcohol in it helps! When we were kids, we loved to make eggnog for us and our friends in the blender (no alcohol except vanilla extract) and no one ever got sick either. Now that everyone's so paranoid (including me), I take the eggs and put them in a bowl of water with a small dash of bleach for a minute or two, then wash off, just in case. I've used pastuerized eggs, it's not a big difference, but doesn't whip up quite as high. They do come in a milk carton, that's probably what you've seen.

      1. Some tips on this:
        1) Tell your guests. Anyone who is pregnant or who might have a weak immune system should not eat raw eggs - ever.

        2) Use freshly purchased eggs (within a couple of days) and do not use any that might have been in contact with a broken egg just to be sure.

        IMO there is nothing more delicious that "real" egg nog. I will definitely make it this and every Christmas!!

        1. You can find cartons of pasteurized eggs in the dairy section of the grocery store. Whole Foods/Wild Oats carries them.

          Regarding using raw eggs, note that people with a compromised or weakened immune system may want to partake, but it could be problematic. The question is - do you want to take the risk, no matter how much you clean the egg shell. It is not just what is on the outside, its the raw egg itself, particularly if the concoction is presented in a punch bowl and left on a table without proper temperature management.

          1. I make eggnog w/ raw eggs every year and noone has gotten sick -- though plenty have gotten looped :-) I use very fresh eggs from humanely raised hens from my local food coop.

            I would tell people it's made w/ raw eggs so those who are pregant or think they may be, can steer clear (and hopefully pregnant women won't be dipping into THIS punch bowl!)

            here's what I get raves out:

            1. It all depends how much you like your salmonella. You don't need a weakened immune system to get salmonella (the bad acting bacteria that can contaminate eggs). It can be found in "humane" free range eggs as well as the factory farmed kinds

              There can be micro cracks on the egg shell that are not readily apparent. It is virtually impossible to tell if an egg has been contaminated with bacteria

              No, the alcohol unfortunately does not reliably kill bacteria. Bleach on the surface of the egg shell will do nothing for the bacteria that has already entered inside the yolk and white.

              That all being said my dad made his eggnog for years with fresh raw eggs. Raw eggs are also a part of "real Ceaser salad."

              Now that I am a pediatrician who sees lots of people with "food poisoning", I am much more careful about what I choose to eat and drink. Raw eggs are off my list, I prefer my lettuce locally produced if possible (live north of SF). However I do still have a hankering for sushi (avoiding raw oysters sadly these days).

              1. Is this sort of eggnog always served cold? Or can it be heated just before serving?

                2 Replies
                1. re: broncosaurus

                  I'm amazed...nobody knows the answer tot his question?

                  1. re: broncosaurus

                    I've never had hot eggnog. Maybe you're thinking of mulled wine?

                2. I had my first uncooked eggnog in 1949, and every holiday season since then. I've never gotten sick.

                  I also eat Caesar salad and steak tartare, both with a raw egg. If I get sick, well, salmonella is curable, and based on experience, the risk is small. IMHO, sometimes even good, well-intentioned advice is worth ignoring.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KRS

                    Love my raw beef, raw eggs, stuffing cooked IN the turkey, rare pork and raw fish. Never been sick.

                  2. I've had the same difficulty finding pasteurized whole eggs here in Boston (I thought the ones in cartons were just egg whites with some coloring added).

                    If I were serving guests I'd absolutely go with the cooked version. It's nice to see lots of anecdotal reports that people have safely eaten raw eggs (as have I) but there IS a genuine risk of salmonella. Not a huge one, but significant, and frankly even people with a healthy adult immune system will experience at least 24 hours of absolute misery if they get salmonella poisoning - it's hardly a minor inconvenience. And as some folks have noted, for kids, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and I'd add people with diabetes, it can be much more serious.

                    On a more optimistic note, I've never looked into it, but I'd assume that restaurants that make their own mayonnaise, aioli, etc. might have sources for real whole pasteurized eggs -- you could try asking where they get them from.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MichaelB

                      Every restaurant has a few cartons of pastuerized egg product sitting around, least of all for the health inspector even if they don't use it regularly. They get it from whoever their food supplier is, on the truck with the rest of their order. The original brand is Papetti, and there's a competitive brand named Sunny Fresh made by Cargill. Do you have a Restaurant Depot/Jetro near you? It's a very common item in foodservice, you can get egg whites, egg whites with sugar (for baking), whole eggs frozen, whole eggs refrig, and omelettes etc already made for catering. I would link but something is wrong with my copy and paste (more likely something's wrong with me!)

                    2. The risks are there just like driving a car or flying in an airplane. It is all about if it is worth the risk.

                      From the past, I can say I lived rather dangerously. Not only eggnog with raw egg but with raw milk straight from the cow.

                      Now that I am over the hill, it isn't worth it for me to get sick. It has been one of those bad years of being in and out of the hospital.


                      Oh, when did they start putting egg into milk cartons? That should never happen!

                      1. Hi All,

                        Thanks so much for all the anecdotes and opinions. I went with the plan to start with a basic custard base, tempering the eggs and cream, and holding the mixture at 160 degrees for 10 minutes to kill all the nasties. It added a few minutes to the prep time, but y'all are right, it's better to spend a few minutes on that than it is to spend hours agonizing over whether I may have poisoned my guests for the sake of olde times and "authenticity." ;)

                        The flavor was unaffected by the heating, and the copious amount of alcohol and nutmeg made it a smash hit at the party.

                        Now that we're in another city visiting family for the holidays -- a city where I can miraculously find those silly in-the-shell pasteurized eggs -- I'll be making it again tomorrow for our xmas guests.

                        Cheers to all!

                        1. The best eggnog on the planet is Martha Stewart's. I've made it every year, with uncooked eggs, stiff egg whites, three types of liquor, and have to pass out the recipe every year. No one has ever been sick. There's never any left either, and it makes a ton.

                          1. Just because someone has been doing this forever and "never had a problem" is not to say that salmonella poisoning cannot possibly occur when raw egg.

                            I used pasteurized egg stuff in carton so I can eat raw cookie dough, but as far as mayo in restaurants, no restaurant is going to take that risk and probably finds a way to sterilize or use the prepackaged junk.

                            1. It really is a personal call about how comfortable you are with raw eggs. If they have been properly refrigerated, it is enough to dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Since the salmonella exists only on the outside of the egg, this effectively sanitizes it. I do this when I have guests who are worry warts. On the other hand, I don't really care. I've eaten a lot of raw meat and eggs and I have never gotten sick.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Will S.

                                That's a good tip on both counts, science and healthy psyche wise! Everyone but me got it at a home-made ice cream party, I took it as a warning as I eat too much raw cookie dough and eggs aside, counterproductive to this middle aged bod!

                                And I do love raw meat, we Syrians have a raw kibbe out of this world... maybe it is on this site somewhere.