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Author Topic: Does alcohol cook out of food?
DawnStorm
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I've always heard that the alcohol content of liquors is cooked out of the food, leaving only the flavor--true or false? I'm asking because tomorrow's menu at the workplace cafe includes bread pudding with Bailey Irish Cream Sauce. Isn't that stuff alcoholic? I cannot imagine a government cafe serving anything with an alcohol content, or is the content so low as to be almost unmeasurable?

Dawn--one bourbon, one Scotch, one beer--Storm

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Mad Jay
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. So, when you are cooking food, which basically means heating the food up to a point where the water starts boiling, then the alcohol should boil away long before the food starts cooking. However, that depends on the amount of alcohol

BTW, did you know that when you smell fresh bread, you are actually smelling evaporated alcohol?

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Nico Sasha
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Methos
I Saw Three Shipments


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My understanding, alhtough I don't pretend to be an expert, is that most of the alcohol cooks out provided, of course, that it is given suffiecent heat and time to do so. But, I don't believe that it is 100%, but is reduced enough to be of little concern for a normal serving of most foods.

I have no direct site for this, but this is the explanation that's been given on several Food Network programs. Someone can feel free to smack me if I've been misinformed.

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Cook a sauce for a good 20 minutes to evaporate the alcohol, from say wine. Flambe-ing say brandy obviously does it a lot quicker [Wink]

I wouldn't worry about Baileys if you are only using a few tablespoons for flavour, but if you are making a rich sauce you want to make sure you give the booze time to evaporate off...

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ILS
Deck the Malls


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As stated by Methos cooking will evaporate MOST but not ALL the alcohol. While this would be of little concern for a normal serving of most foods for most people, it can be a concern if one is sensitive to alcohol.
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Methos
I Saw Three Shipments


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Did a quick search, according to food network's website:

Alcohol Content
While many people believe that alcohol completely dissipates when cooked, studies have shown that cooked food can retain 5-85% of their original alcoholic content. It all depends on how high you cook the food at, what type of alcohol you've used, and how long it's been cooked.

Cooking with Alcohol

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Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Does Alcohol Really Boil Away in Cooking? scroll down to see table from USDA on percent of alcohol retained in various cooking methods. You'll see that flaming retains 75% of the alcohol and there is still 40% left after 15 minutes of simmering.

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jw
The First USA Noel


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i phoned a friend...a chef...
he says the alcohol is burned off completely on a high heat. But medium and low heats do not burn off all the alcohol. i couldn't find anything to disprove his theorising...

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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There's a knack to a flambe, and it often is performed incorrectly and in these situations I can see a lot of booze being left over but this would ruin the dish. When performed correctly a flambe removes practically all the alcohol, this is judged by the taste of the sauce, and I can detect a teaspoon of wine in a dish for 8 so I know when it's done right.

Also, given the boiling temperature of alcohol and the simmering temperature of, say, spaghetti sauce, half a pint of red wine at 12% abv is going to be significantly more reduced than 60% after 15 minutes isn't it?

Again, I go by taste, hardly the most accurate method, but again I'd know if you stirred a curry with a spoon that had been dipped in beer.

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DawnStorm
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Hmm, maybe that explains why patrons will be limited to one plate one time even though the menu is called a 'buffet'. Thanks for the links--cooking with alcohol is more complex than one might imagine!

Dawn--maybe I'll have the apple-oatmeal crisp for dessert--Storm

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I heard from an episode of Good Eats that you never get 100% of the alcohol "cooked out" of anything, but you certainly get enough cooked out that if you have an aversion or are in recovery that it will not cause you any problems.

But then, I've never done any kind of scientific experimentation to back this up... just repeating what I've heard.

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Die Capacitrix
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Purple Iguana:
I heard from an episode of Good Eats that you never get 100% of the alcohol "cooked out" of anything, but you certainly get enough cooked out that if you have an aversion or are in recovery that it will not cause you any problems.

My friend's father was an alcoholic. He was told to not even eat cookies that had real vanilla in them. Maybe a bit extreme, but I think many recoverying alcoholics would prefer not to take any risks (and certainly their families would also prefer that they don't take any risks).

From the OP, I would think that the Bailey's is probably about the same as using real vanilla extract. Doesn't really count, as far as using when cooking for those underage.

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EmeraldCityAlchemist
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Here's the chemists version:

When you have a mixture of any two liquids, and you start the mixture boiling, the vapor that is produced as a result is slightly enriched in whichever liquid has the lower boiling point. So if you were to have a mixture of water and alcohol, the mixture would start to boil at about 78 degrees, and the vapor (steam) would contain mostly alcohol with a little water (about 95% alcohol). Some of the vapors will recondense (on the side of the pot, or on the spoon, or on the solid chunks of food, or whatever) and drip back into the mixture. Over time, as the alcohol content decreases, the temperature will rise and the vapor will have less and less alcohol in it. If you want to ensure that all the alcohol is boiled off, you can add a little more water and then boil longer. The best way to know if the alcohol is gone is to measure the temperature of the boiling liquid... if it's up around 212 degrees fahrenheit, then the alcohol is gone.

And, BTW, every living tissue and cell, and therefore just about every food we eat contains SOME alcohol already.. just in trace amounts. The problem isn't in the ingesting of alcohol, the problems occur when one ingests TOO MUCH alcohol.

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Griffin at the Maul
Joyeux New Sale


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Then again, the "Irish Cream" may simply be a flavoring rather than them putting actual Bailey's into the dish. Especially since this is a Government establishment (and it is obviously NOT the White House).

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DawnStorm
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Griffin stuck in the Candy Floss:
Then again, the "Irish Cream" may simply be a flavoring rather than them putting actual Bailey's into the dish. Especially since this is a Government establishment (and it is obviously NOT the White House).

That sounds logical; I just cannot imagine the DOJ cafe having anything with any kind of proof, although I cannot get the image of a bunch of drunken Government attorneys weaving around all afternoon out of my mind.
My former job was in a military medical library, and I know that the Officer's Club had to shut down the bar at lunch because too many people--military and civilian--were getting drunk.
Maybe I'll try the bread pudding after all. The whole menu sounds delicious.

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Die Capacitrix:
quote:
Originally posted by Purple Iguana:
I heard from an episode of Good Eats that you never get 100% of the alcohol "cooked out" of anything, but you certainly get enough cooked out that if you have an aversion or are in recovery that it will not cause you any problems.

My friend's father was an alcoholic. He was told to not even eat cookies that had real vanilla in them. Maybe a bit extreme, but I think many recoverying alcoholics would prefer not to take any risks (and certainly their families would also prefer that they don't take any risks).

From the OP, I would think that the Bailey's is probably about the same as using real vanilla extract. Doesn't really count, as far as using when cooking for those underage.

Oh I totally understand. My mom's been in AA for over half of my life, so I understand the system. I was just trying to say that you don't get the taste of alcohol... you don't get ANY kind of a buzz from it... so in that regard it is "safe." But recovery is definitely not something to mess around with, so if it makes folks better to stick to the stricter side, that's just fine in my book. Why risk if you don't need to? But then you also have to avoid Listerine, soap-free hand cleansers, certain lotions, and I think certain (ahem) "adult" jellies.

(ETA: Random side note... WHEE, this is my 1000th post! [Smile] )

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dlloyd
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
BTW, did you know that when you smell fresh bread, you are actually smelling evaporated alcohol?

When you smell fresh bread, you're smelling a complex mixture of more than 60 volatile compounds, one of which is ethanol.
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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I'll need to save this thread. I've heard the "cooks off/does not" argument too many times to tell.

14 years ago, when I first came into AA, we were told that alcohol "cooks off." But several years ago, studies were done that show that it doesn't cook off 100% (see Kathy B's post, and several others, including ILS and Methos.)

Some of you have it right - legal limits aside, some of us prefer not screw around and take chances. If it has or had alcohol in it, I tend not to eat it.

Several years ago, I was out to dinner with a cousin. We ordered one of those fancy desserts for two. I was running my mouth (as usual) so he got a taste of the dessert first. I had my spoon poised about half an inch from my mouth when he realized it was soaked in alcohol (we hadn't seen that on the menu.) In attempting to push my spoon away, he ended up knocking it out of my hand and about half way across the room. Raised quite a few eyebrows of other diners, as no doubt they thought there was a domestic squabble brewing - but this cousin has my undying gratitude for possibly saving my life.

Yes, he nobly threw himself on the grenade - ate the whole dessert himself. (He's not in the program.)

Just thought I'd throw that story in, no particular reason.

Ali "lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine" Baba

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DawnStorm
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Ali, my husband once tried to play a joke on me by switching his pina colada with my virgin colada. He forgot about my bloodhound-like nose! I smelled the rum straightaway. [Razz]
I once got a block of rum-soaked fruitcake that was so soaked in the stuff that I could smell it through the tin. Totally inedible; I don't think even the birds ate it, which was probably a good thing. [lol]
I'll probably print this thread out for Mark to read--it was our discussion of cooking with alcohol that lead to me posting it.

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magpie
Deck the Malls


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Yes, some desserts such as Tiramisu are soaked in alcohol. And this dessert is never cooked, so obviously all of the alcohol content will still be there. However most deserts with alcohol in them usually are equal to a fraction of a teaspoon per serving, so the average consumer wouldn't be able to tell.

A good cook will probably be able to tell you how much alcohol would still be left in a dessert. For example, poached pears in a port wine sauce would probably have little to no alcohol left in it, because of the long cooking time, the boiling temperature and the low alcohol content of port wine to begin with. Rum balls would have a significantly higher alcohol content, because they are not boiled and rum would be higher in alcohol to begin with. Not that one could probably eat more than 2 or 3 rum balls at a time anyway...

By the way, desserts are not the only things with alcohol added! Many beef stews have red wine in their gravy, but as I said before, the average consumer can't tell the difference.

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Griffin at the Maul
Joyeux New Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by Purple Iguana:
Why risk if you don't need to? But then you also have to avoid Listerine, soap-free hand cleansers, certain lotions, and I think certain (ahem) "adult" jellies.

The alcohols in cleansers and lotions are generally denatured, meaning that they are "spoiled" or "poisoned" against consumption. (cite: Pharmco Website) Why would it be a problem for an AA participant? (sorry if this is an obvious question, I am not completely sure how the Program works).

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Holly Golightly
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quote:
Originally posted by magpie:
Yes, some desserts such as Tiramisu are soaked in alcohol. And this dessert is never cooked, so obviously all of the alcohol content will still be there.

mmmmm... sherry trifle.
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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
The alcohols in cleansers and lotions are generally denatured, meaning that they are "spoiled" or "poisoned" against consumption. (cite: Pharmco Website) Why would it be a problem for an AA participant? (sorry if this is an obvious question, I am not completely sure how the Program works).
Actually, it's a good question. AA advocates total abstention from alcohol. However, I don't plan on drinking rubbing alcohol, nor cleanser, nor anything else like that, so I don't worry about those. I do, however, get alcohol-free mouthwash, cough-syrup and anything else that's going in my mouth.

But there's a middle-ground for some people. Some alcoholics are so desperate and dangerous to themselves, that they've been known to drink anything with alcohol in it, up to and including nail-polish remover. (My personal feeling is that they're actually trying to kill themselves but who knows.)

I don't keep any kind of drinkable alcohol in my home, including cooking sherry. I do have cleansers, etc. which contain alcohol. But it varies, person to person. * ETA: Something I forgot to mention, but a friend just reminded me of: many people don't touch anything with alcohol for the simple reason of the smell triggering a desire for it. Different things are triggers for different people. Just the smell is enough for some, for others, they have to see it, etc.

But there really aren't any rules, per se, as far as AA is concerned. It's benign anarchy.

But to quote an adage of the program, not drinking is strongly recommended, in the same way that when you jump out of an airplane, it's recommended you use a parachute.

Ali "no 'musts', but a lot of 'you damn well ought to's" Baba

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