Frothy, creamy, sugary ... phlegm-y? Putting commercial eggnog to the test
The holiday season has arrived — and with it, gallons upon gallons of eggnog. Some Canadian supermarkets have been stocking up on cartons of the thick, sugary beverage since September.
It's believed to date back to medieval England, when monks mixed an alcoholic ale with milk, figs, eggs and sherry.
It's this delicate, beautiful, boozy, rich Christmas drink. That is not what industrial egg nog is.- Chris Nuttall-Smith , host of CBC's The Fridge Light
But the heavily-processed commercial beverage on today's grocery store shelves — most of it filled with preservatives, glucose-fructose syrup and modified milk ingredients — bears little resemblance to the frothy, creamy, boozy homemade drink that would have been enjoyed by the likes of Washington.
"Real eggnog, you start with eggs and you separate them," food critic Chris Nuttall-Smith tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury.
"You beat sugar into egg yolks, and then you add cream and booze and milk. And then you froth the egg whites. You get these stiff peaks on your egg whites, and then you fold them in."
"It's this delicate, beautiful, boozy, rich Christmas drink. That is not what industrial eggnog is."
We invited Nuttall-Smith, who hosts CBC podcast The Fridge Light, into the Day 6 studio for a taste test to see how commercial eggnog stacks up against Martha Stewart's homemade best.
Here's a little taste of Chris' reaction to the brands we served him.
Beatrice Brand Premium Eggnog
"This is called 'Premium' eggnog, and I am putting 'Premium' in some massive air-quotes, although the main ingredient is milk. … But for all my trash-talking, this is what I grew up with. I mean, this is the flavour of trashy deliciousness — at Christmastime!"
"Would I drink it by choice on, I don't know, Christmas morning? I don't know if I would. But it's perfectly fine."
Kawartha Dairy Premium Eggnog
"The first two ingredients are fresh milk, fresh cream. That's a good start. … This, to me, smells like fresh custard. And by the way, that's an endorsement — this smells like eggs and cream."
"I like this, and they're not trying to hide anything. … It's cream, milk, egg yolks. Sure, there's a lot of sugar, but this is the real deal — with some additives, like guar gum and 'spice,' and dextrose."
Earth's Own Almond SoFresh Almond Nogg
"This is not eggnog … This tastes like liquid alfalfa!"
Hey, two out of three isn't bad.
Tune in next week to hear food historian Andrew Smith uncover the history of how eggnog was transformed from a boozy, homemade drink into a commercial holiday juggernaut.
To hear Chris Nuttall-Smith and Brent Bambury's full reactions to the taste test, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.