Alcohol Does Not Completely Burn Off in Cooking

July 26, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

By Chad Upton

Whether you marinade steaks in beer or use Vanilla extract in your baking, you’re probably left with more alcohol in your food than you realize.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can infuse wonderful flavors. And yes, Vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Actually, it’s mandated by law in the US.

In many cultures, alcohol and food go hand in hand. Fancy wine bars pair meals or selected cheese and chocolate with wine.

Before modern cough medicines, Doctors prescribed a tablespoon of brandy to calm children’s coughs. Even some existing cough medicines, such as NyQuil, contain alcohol (except the childrens remedy). Monks have been known to brew and drink beer since the middle ages.

The USDA’s Nutrition Data Lab used gas-liquid chromatography to determine how much alcohol remained in food after various cooking scenarios.

Cooking Method Alcohol Remaining
Flambé 75%
Left Overnight (no heat) 70%
baked 25 mins (alcohol not stirred in) 45%
baked 15 mins (alcohol stirred in) 40%
baked 30 mins (alcohol stirred in) 35%
baked 60 mins (alcohol stirred in) 25%
baked 90 mins (alcohol stirred in) 20%
baked 120 mins (alcohol stirred in) 10%
baked 150 mins (alcohol stirred in) 5%

Even after 2.5 hours, 5% of the alcohol remains. I don’t think it’s anything to be too alarmed about. Grandma’s have been serving cookies laced with Vanilla extract to children for many years and most of us turned out just fine. That said, it’s still pretty surprising.

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Sources: Wikipedia, O Chef , Trappist Beer, NyQuil

Photo: 5volt (cc)

Entry filed under: Food and Drink. Tags: , , , , , , .

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