Alcohol and Cooking. Is It Suitable For Our Babes?

silver stock pot with liquid substance and lemon

Does cooking remove alchol content and make it safe to serve to our babes? Lets find out.

So you have added a splash of wine into your casserole…..but wait…you were planning to feed this meal to everyone….Can you feed it to your baby if it has wine in it? You’re pretty sure the alcohol cooks out when it is heated. But, how hot does it have to get and for how long?

The longer you cook a dish with alcohol in it and the hotter it is, then the more the alcohol cooks out. The problem though, is that it is really hard to measure how much alcohol is left after cooking. It depends on the type of food, the temperature, how much was added and the heat!

 

What does the research say?

A Danish study looking at beer cooked in different dishes found that there was alcohol left over in each dish they tested. The amount that remained was low and not likely to be of concern for most adults. (1) However, this is of course a different story for children.

Another study from the US (although it is an old one!) found that food had to be cooked for longer than 3 hours for most of the alcohol to have evaporated. It also appears that the more ingredients you have mixed in to the dish the harder it is for the alcohol to evaporate. (2) For example, using wine in a sauce to deglaze a pan compared to half a bottle in a pasta sauce has very different results. Using a lid and taking it off occasionally to let the steam escape might also make it more effective to cook off the alcohol. (3)

The take home:

It is impossible to know if all the alcohol has left a dish even if you cook it for many hours. So, if in doubt, leave it out! We would suggest that you avoid using alcohol in a dish for kids, or if it is important to the flavour, then choosing an alcohol-free wine.

Most major bottle shops have very affordable alcohol free wine options these days, which means you can still cook your favourite dishes knowing that they are suitable for everyone in the family.

References

  1. Julia Ryapushkina, Erik Skovenborg, Arne Astrup, Jens Risbo, Lene Mølskov Bech, Morten Georg Jensen, Pia Snitkjær, Cooking with beer: How much alcohol is left?,
  2. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, Volumes 5–6, 2016 Pages 17-26,, ISSN 1878-450X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgfs.2016.09.001.
  3. Augustin J, Augustin E, Cutrufelli RL, Hagen SR, Teitzel C. Alcohol retention in food preparation. J Am Diet Assoc. 1992 Apr;92(4):486-8. PMID: 1556354. And https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2021/07/16/what-you-need-know-about-cooking-alcohol
  4. Snitkjær P, Ryapushkina J, Skovenborg E, Astrup A, Bech LM, Jensen MG, Risbo J. Fate of ethanol during cooking of liquid foods prepared with alcoholic beverages: Theory and experimental studies. Food Chem. 2017 Sep 1;230:234-240. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.03.034. Epub 2017 Mar 9. PMID: 28407905.

 

 

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