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I tried to make homemade eggnog last Christmas. It turned out fine, but the eggs were an issue. I thought about buying pasteurized eggs but they would've run me $12 for two dozen, which seemed obscene.

Pasteurization was important because my young child might have wanted some eggnog, so it needed to be very safe.

So I pasteurized the eggs by heating them a little at a time in the microwave, stirring, heating etc until they reached 145F. I may have separated the yolks, but can't remember exactly. I read about the technique on a blog. This worked well enough, but I ended up with some chunks of cooked egg in the egg nog. Not a big deal, but I spent a lot of time on this eggnog and was disappointed that it was less than perfect.

What's a good technique for pasteurizing eggs that doesn't result in chunks and gets the eggs to the correct temperature?

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The microwave is too harsh an environment for this.

If you have a sous vide circulator, you can also pasteurize in-shell at 135 F (57 C) for for 75 minutes according to Douglas Baldwin's A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking.

To pasteurize on the stove in the shell takes some care. You must bring the water up to 140 - 150 F (60 - 65 C) for 3 to 5 minutes to pasteurize them. You must not exceed 150 or you will begin to cook the egg. If the eggs are in the water as you heat it then they will closely match the temperature of the surrounding water. Just make sure they aren't resting on the bottom of the pan. If you want to be extra careful you can leave them in longer, as long as you don't let them get too hot.

Alternatively, since you're using them in egg nog, you can combine the eggs with the milk and heat this slowly on the stove until it reaches a temperature or 140-150 F, maintaining for 3-5 minutes.

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    How can you be sure that the yolk gets to 145 with this technique? It seems flawed on the face of it, since getting the yolk to 145 is the most important part, but also the hardest to measure with your technique. – jcollum Aug 4 '10 at 20:32
  • Why not separate the eggs and heat the yolks and whites by themselves? More work, but it would help get to the desired result without double-cooking the milk. – Alex Reynolds Aug 5 '10 at 13:04
  • @jcollum: The worry with eggs is more about the outside, than the inside. Salmonella bacteria live on the surface, not on the inside. The problem is that it's impossible to get to the inside without some contact with the outside, so either sterilize the outside, or sterilize the whole mess. Beyond that, the yolk is the part of the egg least likely to be hosting any bacteria...The white is full of natural antibiotics, and the shell membrane is an excellent barrier against bacteria. – Satanicpuppy Aug 5 '10 at 13:57
  • @jcollum:I clarified my answer. If you heat the eggs in the water they will match the temp of the environment – hobodave Aug 5 '10 at 14:55
  • The new link is good. I think we can call that the answer. – jcollum Aug 11 '10 at 16:20
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The only guaranteed safe method is just to buy eggs pasteurized in the shell. IMHO, well worth the slightly higher price.

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