Cooking With Alcohol

Decorating By xswizit1 Updated 13 Nov 2008 , 1:54am by jsmith

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xswizit1 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:03pm
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Ok, so this really doesn't have anything to do with baking or cakes, but I couldn't find the answer anywhere else...

If you add alcohol to a recipe hot hot and how long does it have to cook before the alcohol cooks off? I am making fondue for a dinner party and every recipe I have calls for beer, wine or liquor. Normally not a big deal but I am pregnant and two of the guests are nursing.


8 replies
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Mike1394 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:09pm
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The alcohol never fully cooks out. There is always some residual left.


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kakeladi Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:18pm
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As Mike said, it doesn't totally cook off. What what I have read, only about 40% does. That's the latest info around.

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xswizit1 Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:20pm
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Hmm. So for my sake, I should probably leave it out. Ok, thanks for letting me know!

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justsweet Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:30pm
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Alcohol in Recipes:

Why use alcohol in recipes?
There are a vast number of wonderful recipes which use some form of alcohol as an ingredient in sauces, marinades or as a main flavor ingredient. What do you do when you don't have that particular liquor or you will be serving children at dinner or you do not partake of any alcoholic beverages? In many cases, you can make some non-alcoholic substitutions. In order to be successful, you'll need to be armed with information and background on why the alcohol is used and the flavor goal of the recipe.

Why use alcohol in cooking?
In general, the main reason any alcoholic beverage is used in a recipe is to impart flavor. After all, the finest extracts with the most intense flavors are alcohol-based, particularly vanilla. Fermentation intensifies and concentrates fruit essence into liqueurs, cordials, brandies and wines. Other foodstuffs are distilled into potent liquors specifically to boggle the senses but still appeal to the palate.

Many object to the alcohol content, but it is a completely natural by-product which happens daily in nature, even within the human body. In many recipes, the alcohol is an essential component to achieve a desired chemical reaction in a dish. Alcohol causes many foods to release flavors that cannot be experienced without the alcohol interaction. Beer contains yeast which leavens breads and batters. Some alcoholic beverages can help break down tough fibers via marinades. Other dishes use alcoholic content to provide entertainment, such as flames and flaming dishes.

Wine and Kirsch were originally added to fondue because the alcohol lowers the boiling point of the cheese which helps prevent curdling. In the case of leavened goods, there is no ready substitute for beer. Instead, choose a different recipe which uses another leavener such as yeast, baking powder or baking soda. For marinades, acidic fruits will usually do the trick. For flambes and flamed dishes, you're out of luck if you don't use the alcohol. For flavoring alone, you will often have a number of substitution options.

Alcohol burn-off depends on cooking methods
Does the alcohol burn off?

Alcohol not only evaporates without heat, but the majority also burns off during the cooking process. How much remains in the dish depends on the cooking method and amount of cooking time. Those bourbon-soaked fruitcakes would have to turn into bricks before the alcohol evaporates. A bottle of Guinness in a long-simmered stew is not going to leave a significantly measurable alcohol residue, but will add a rich, robust flavor. A quick flambe may not burn off all the alcohol, whereas a wine reduction sauce will leave little if any alcohol content. Heat and time are the keys. Obviously, uncooked foods with alcohol will retain the most alcohol.

Alcohol Burn-off Chart
The following chart data comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with information on how much alcohol remains in your food with specific cooking methods. Keep in mind that this is the percentage of alcohol remaining of the original addition.

Alcohol Burn-off Chart
Preparation Method Percent Retained

Alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat % Retained 85%

Alcohol flamed Percent Retained 75%

No heat, stored overnight Percent Retained 70%

Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture % Retained 45%

Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture: 15 minutes cooking time Percent Retained 40%

30 minutes cooking time Percent Retained 35%

1 hour cooking time Percent Retained 25%

1.5 hours cooking time Percent Retained 20%

2 hours cooking time Percent Retained 10%

2.5 hours cooking time Percent Retained 5%

Using the replacement method, and it is working great;

white wine - use white grape or white cranberry juice (I recently used white cranberry with peach juice and it was delightful.)
Sherry - POM juice.
Red wine - Prune juice.
Beer - ginger ale or ginger beer.

Rum cake - I used artificial rum flavoring in the cake mix and instead of the rum soak, I did a sugar and OJ caramel glaze - first shred the orange rind and sprinkle over the cake, then cook the juice with sugar until you get a glaze and pour over the top.

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FromScratch Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 10:55pm
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How much beer or wine are we talking about? 1/2-1 cup for a batch of fondue? If you consider that a bit will burn off, and that beer and wine have lower levels of alcohol than vanilla extract, and that you will be dividing the fondue between many people, there really isn't a problem with it. Your liver will be able to quickly metabolize the minimal alcohol you consume. Now don't go drinking a bottle of wine or anything, but the wine in your fondue isn't going to hurt anyone. icon_smile.gif You will be consuming a few TBSP of alcohol that has had some of it's potency removed through cooking. I cook with wine all the time.. my kids eat it.. I ate it while pregnant. I never drank glasses of wine.. my kiddos turned out okay. The nursing mommas will be fine too.

I am of course not a doctor, but this is my personal view on it. icon_smile.gif Of course you can leave it out.. and your fondue will taste fine.. but don't sweat it too much.

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jsmith Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 12:09am
post #7 of 9

This is good to know. thanks for asking the question. I was wondering, for those of you who cook with alcohol, do you think it would it be bad for a recovering alcoholic to eat food with even a little alcohol cooked in it? Or painting a cake with alcohol (i.e luster dust/food color)? I would hate to trigger an addiction like that.

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FromScratch Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 1:48am
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I don't think it would be bad.. unless you are DROWNING your food in alcohol (and that doesn't taste good anyway). Most people eat something I make that has wine in it and don't know there's wine in it. They know it tastes good and that there's something in it making it taste that way, but it's not "OMG I can totally taste the Pino Grigio you put in this cream sauce". There's 1/2 a cup in the whole recipe and it's been reduced down to nothing before adding the cream.. it's there as an enhancher and to de-glaze the pan.. not to get you drunk.

Now.. I don't think I'd serve a soaked cake to an alcoholic since it's obvious that there's rum/whatever in it. I do think though that it's one of those things that people think too much about. So very worried about any amount of alcohol in anything. Oh no.. don't give the kids rum cake (and I'm talking the calmer version with a rum wash.. not like an english fruitcake that could knock me on my knees icon_wink.gif) there's alcohol in it.. but sure.. go ahead and have some of the fresh whipped cream because it has vanilla extract in it.. it's the SAME thing.. just without the stigma. icon_lol.gif Vanilla extract is the same proof as vodka.. but no one even bats an eye at that.. I add a good TBSP of vanilla to a small batch of whipped cream. There's more alcohol in the whipped cream than the slice of rum cake.. but no one even thinks about it. My kids love rum cake btw.. and I have no issues letting them eat it with the whipped cream. icon_biggrin.gif

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jsmith Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 1:54am
post #9 of 9

Thanks! I feel better about it now. icon_smile.gif

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