I love this time of year. There’s a crispness in the air. People seem just a little bit lighter and joy-filled. We all seem to have traditions that we do every year. In my house, it’s the time spent laughing while decorating cookies or making personal gifts with the grand kids to give to family. We enjoy special kinds of foods like cranberries, pumpkins, and eggnog.
I only get to enjoy eggnog at Christmas time. It is a special treat that is sweet and reminds me of the holiday. My dad and I would drink eggnog every Christmas. It was the store-bought kind…but still very special because it was shared with dad. Now it’s my turn to share it with my children and grandchildren. This year I decided to make it at home. I liked the idea of being able to make it and share it with them.
Eggnog is not a difficult beverage to make and the ingredients are easy to find in the grocery store. Just a few items that when blended together make a rich and creamy treat. It contains the same ingredients as ice cream. Maybe that’s why I like it so much!
Before I share the recipe, I will share a little agricultural information about the ingredients.
The main ingredient in eggnog is the eggs. Iowa is the number one egg producing state. Eggs are full of vitamins, and protein.
Sugar comes from two agricultural crops, sugar beets and sugar cane. Many people associate sugar cane with Hawaii. It is a tropical crop because it grows best with lots of sun and water. It is harvested by chopping down the cane, but leaving the roots for the next crop of sugar cane. Sugar can also be made from sugar beets. Grown in soils of the upper Midwest, the sugar beet plant’s root is harvested to produce the sugar.
Salt: Not really an agriculture product, but it is a product that people use every day. The great source of salt is in our seas and oceans, but salt can also be mined from underground beds.
Milk: Milk or heavy cream provides a perfect source of calcium and vitamins. Iowa ranks 12th in the United States in production of milk. What’s the difference between milk and heavy cream? Both are made from cow’s milk, consisting of water milk and butterfat. Cream has a much higher butterfat content. Remove butterfat and you have lower fat milk products like low-fat milk and skim milk.
Vanilla extract is made from the seed pod, or bean, of the flat leaved vanilla orchid. They are picked unripe, submerged into hot water and then laid out to dry. Vanilla extract is made by macerating the vanilla beans and mixing them with water and alcohol.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg is the seed of a dark leaved evergreen tree – myristica fragrans. It is cultivated for the two spices made from its fruit – nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is made from the seed and mace is made from the dried shell of the seed. Nutmeg is a sweeter spice full of vitamins and essential oils.
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy whipping cream
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Gradually add 2 cups of milk and cook over low heat until thermometer reads 160 degrees – 170 degrees. (This will take 30+ minutes. – Do not let the mixture boil.)
Transfer to a bowl when temperature is reached.
Stir in vanilla, nutmeg and remaining milk. Place bowl in shallow ice water bath and stir until the mixture is cool. If the mixture separates, it can be processed in a blender until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate 3 or more hours.
To serve the eggnog: Beat the heavy cream until peaks form and gently whisk into cooled mixture. Sprinkle with extra nutmeg just to make it look festive. Enjoy!