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Jar family grows in fridge


Many jars have long-term residences in my fridge. Some of them come and then depart at excruciatingly slow rates (with just a little of their contents used at a time), while others have identities lost to the sands of time.

These long-term jars are about half ferments and half stable products. Examples of the ferments are jalapenos, some sliced and some ground into a sauce and fermented with salt. Examples of the stable products are maple syrup and “sun-dried” (oven) tomatoes packed in oil. One or two squatters are currently unidentified mystery jars.

Soon, I will add to this back-of-the-fridge family of jars a brand new member: aged eggnog.

I recently tried aged eggnog for the first time. A friend had made some a year ago, and offered me a glass last week.

Although I love homemade eggnog, I took a first whiff with caution — aging eggs seems counter intuitive. If you’ve ever met an aged egg, you know.

However, aged eggnog is preserved with alcohol, and lots of it.

I quite enjoyed the two glasses of this beverage at my friend’s house. It tasted somewhat like regular eggnog, but not as sweet and with a much more complex flavor. If I taste tested it side-by-side with fresh eggnog, I’m not sure which I would have liked better. To my taste, they are rather different drinks, not to be compared directly. Not quite apples and oranges … but maybe apples and pears.

After a little reading, I’ve learned that aged eggnog should contain at least 20% alcohol (80 proof or higher). This amount of booze sterilizes the mixture, thus preventing spoilage.

A microbiology professor at Rockefeller University tested homemade alcoholic (20% rum and bourbon) eggnog and store-bought non-alcoholic eggnog. He let them both sit for 24 hours at body temperature. When tested, the homemade mix was sterile, while the store bought nog was full of bacteria (not surprising and likely safe, as bacteria occur naturally in the eggs and dairy).

In addition to the alcohol the sugar in aged eggnog is also a preservative. The recipes I’ve found consist mainly of eggs, alcohol and sugar. Most recommend adding milk and cream just before serving.

While there are some variations, most of the recipes I found online were roughly the same — a dozen eggs, 1 1/2 cups bourbon, 1/2 cup of cognac and 1/3 cup of dark rum, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat these together — no need to separate the eggs — and pour into a sterilized airtight container, and tuck it away in your refrigerator.

Multiple blogs and websites (including America’s Test Kitchen) say the drink is best after three weeks. However, apparently it can last up to two years.

Before serving, add milk and cream, and shake until it is frothy.

If you want to adapt your go-to nog recipe for aging, simply make sure that you have one and a half ounces of 80 proof liquor per egg.

My chickens are now in full swing of laying, and I’m starting to have a backlog of eggs. This seems like a great way to preserve a dozen or two for next Christmas. While I’ll plan to keep most of it tucked away with my other collection of jars in the back of my fridge until then, I might pull some out at Easter for a six- to seven-week taste test.