Nothing warms the heart on a cold winter day like a cup of eggnog. But why is it only available around the holidays? I, for one, would like to enjoy it even after the New Year sets in!
Eggnog is a popular frothy dairy winter drink. It consists of egg yolk, cream, milk, and sugar. You can grab it at the supermarket or make it from scratch. It has become synonymous with everything Christmas and winter, so you’ll mainly find it during the festive season.
Eggnog is not a new drink. Originating in England, it has been around since the 1600s. It was a fancy drink and only consumed by upper-class citizens. Today though, everyone can enjoy the many varieties of eggnog.
Since eggnog is only found in stores during the winter holidays, many people stock up and save it to drink throughout the year. Unfortunately, eggnog will spoil at room temperature, so that’s not a storage option. Can you freeze eggnog?
Let’s take a look at whether you can or can’t freeze eggnog and discuss other related aspects.
Then, maybe we’ll be able to enjoy a good warm glass of eggnog in the springtime!
Can You Freeze Eggnog?
If you bought extra cartons of eggnog or have leftovers of your homemade one, you might be wondering if storing them in the freezer is the way to go. Will freezing them be the solution you’re looking for?
Usually, the shelf life of unopened commercially produced eggnog is between five and seven days if stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius). In the freezer, they are subjected to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
The truth of the matter is, yes, you can freeze your eggnog so that it lasts longer, but it’s not everything you hoped for. In the freezer, the ingredients of the eggnog tend to separate. So, freezing it will later result in a lumpy and unpleasant drink.
For that reason, it is advised to freeze eggnog that you plan on using for cooking or baking, rather than drinking.
However, there are specific ways to store your eggnog to prevent unpleasant changes in the texture.
Freezing Store Bought Eggnog Vs. Homemade Eggnog
When it comes to freezing eggnog, there are definite differences between commercially produced and homemade ones.
Generally, homemade eggnog has a much shorter shelf life than its store-bought counterpart. This is due to the pasteurization step that occurs during the manufacturing of the commercial beverage. Also, store-bought eggnog is often preferred since its counterpart requires a decent amount of effort and time to make.
To put it simply, you should avoid freezing homemade eggnog except as a last resort. On the other hand, you absolutely can freeze store bought eggnog.
The reason why it’s better not to freeze homemade eggnog is related to the lack of preservatives it contains. This leads to a much faster deterioration of the eggnog. Even when the homemade version of this drink is frozen, there is a chance that bacteria have set in during the storage period, which can reactivate after thawing.
The raw eggs in homemade recipes are the biggest red flag when it comes to freezing them as they can be hazardous.
How to Freeze Eggnog
If you want to freeze eggnog, specific procedures must be strictly followed. Store-bought eggnog and eggnog made at home are frozen differently. This drink is highly-perishable, and there are a lot of risks associated with it, so correct freezing is needed to safely extend the shelf life.
With store-bought eggnog, it should not be opened before freezing. Freezing is relatively easy; there are no preparation steps. Place an unopened eggnog carton upright in the freezer and leave it for a couple of hours. Once it becomes frozen solid, place it in a plastic freezer bag. You can then place it flat or standing up, whichever saves you the most freezer space.
The reason for the plastic freezer bag is to minimize freezer burn and protect the content in the carton. Also, you can label the freezing date on the bag, which is highly recommended. Ideally, the temperature should remain steadily be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) as any temperature fluctuations can put the eggnog’s safety and quality at risk.
The homemade eggnog freezing process is a bit different.
Once you’ve made the eggnog recipe, allow it to rest and cool down completely at room temperature.
Then, pour the eggnog into a freezer-safe airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. Do not fill the container all the way up to avoid it exploding in the freezer.
Leave about an inch or two of space as the eggnog will expand slightly when frozen. Make sure to label the package with its date of freezing.
How Long Does Eggnog Last in the Freezer?
Freezing food helps extend their shelf-life. So how long exactly does eggnog last in the freezer?
Whether store-bought or homemade, freezing eggnog correctly will allow its shelf-life to extend to about 4 to 6 months. The temperature must be maintained below 0 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk and lumpiness that occurs upon thawing.
Do not freeze eggnog if you’re planning on consuming it within a week or so. In this case, refrigeration is a better option for the leftover eggnog, given the limited timeframe.
How to Defrost Frozen Eggnog
After freezing, you will have to defrost the eggnog to consume it. While freezing is suitable for the shelf life, it results in a change in texture once defrosted.
To defrost frozen eggnog, you’re going to want to avoid placing it at room temperature. Instead, thaw frozen eggnog in the refrigerator overnight and shake the container well before opening it. That is the safest way to thaw eggnog without putting the ingredients at risk of spoilage.
Upon defrosting well-stored eggnog, it will be safe to consume. However, during freezing, the ingredients will have likely undergone some separation resulting in a changed texture.
If improperly stored or thawed, or left for longer than six months in the freezer, there will be lumps that do not mix back in. You’ll end up with a lumpy, watery consistency defrosted eggnog that is undoubtedly unappetizing to drink. All is not lost though! ‘Lumpy eggnog’ could be used for cooking or baking instead.
How to Reheat Eggnog
After thawing, you’re likely not going to drink or use your eggnog while it’s cold. Instead, you’re going to want to reheat it, and this is how.
An alternative way to defrost or reheat eggnog is by sticking it in the microwave on low heat. Then, every 30 seconds, check the heat and stir to spread it evenly. This prevents you from overheating your eggnog, which would completely ruin the texture.
You could also reheat your eggnog in a saucepan on the stove. The heat should be low to medium, and it should be stirred until it is steaming hot.
Once reheated, you should consume the thawed eggnog immediately. Never place it back into the fridge or freezer as there is a high chance of bacterial growth and spoilage, which would result in food-borne illnesses.
How to Tell if Eggnog Has Gone Bad
In order to avoid food-borne illnesses, it is essential to know when food is no longer consumable. The ingredients of eggnog make it a delicate food that should not be consumed once it has gone bad.
Generally, eggnog is recommended to be consumed within 3 to 5 days after being opened. But, if you’ve left it for longer, how do you know if it has gone bad?
Let’s use our senses. First, we smell. Open the carton or container of the eggnog and give it a good sniff. If it smells somewhat sour, it’s no good and should be discarded.
For the second sense, let’s use sight. You want to check its appearance. Pour it into a glass and see if the color has changed. Different recipes often have their own distinct color, so it is hard to tell you exactly what it should or shouldn’t look like. Generally, if you see a color change, throw it out. The same goes for if you find the texture lumpy.
If everything seems fine, your eggnog is probably still good. Give it a small taste before chugging the whole glass to double-check if it’s okay. Only give it a small taste if all else looks good; this should be the last checkpoint.
Even if all looks good, if you’ve had your non-frozen eggnog for more than a week, it is advised to throw it out. It can sometimes be challenging to spot the first signs of spoilage, so do not risk it.
How Long Does Eggnog Last in the Fridge?
The general recommendation is to place eggnog in the fridge. But how long does it last?
The following are estimates of the period eggnog lasts in the fridge. Please note that this may differ depending on several factors, such as storage methods and fluctuations in temperature. Homemade eggnog lasts about 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
Store-bought eggnog contains more preservatives, so it lasts longer than its homemade counterpart. You can see how long an unopened refrigerated carton of store-bought eggnog lasts on the information printed on the packacging. Often it is about 5 to 7 days. Opened store-bought eggnog lasts about 3 to 5 days in the fridge.