A discussion came up over the weekend about the alcohol burning off when cooking with wine and how some may be concerned about wine and liquors being used in cooking and baking.
Chefs have been cooking with alcohol knowing that many recipes are enhanced with its flavors.
I bet that many of us didn’t realize, or perhaps just plain forgot, that the vanilla extract, and for that matter any of the extracts we use in baking contain alcohol. I just checked the label on the vanilla extract I have — it contains 35% alcohol and the anise extract contains a whopping 73%. WOW!
We eat lots of cakes, cookies and cupcakes containing extracts and I don’t remember anyone questioning how much alcohol is in the delectable delights.
So does the alcohol burn off and should there be a concern? Yes, no, maybe so. The alcohol burns off but there are a few determining factors. No, it doesn’t always burn off completely. And, maybe so, for some it is a very personal and individual concern or lifestyle.
There are millions of people around the world who cook with wine and eat in restaurants that prepare sauces, entres, and desserts made with wine or liquors. It is all a matter of personal and individual preferences as to whether the inclusion of alcohol in the food matters.
I recall at an office luncheon one year one person wouldn’t eat the rum cake being served. Alcoholic beverages were not part of their lifestyle and eating the rum cake would compromise their ideology.
If the alcohol burn-off is a concern or if your are just curious there are a few cooking details that affect the burning off of the alcohol. The amount of alcohol used, the size of the cooking vessel, and method of cooking are some of the determining factors.
- The less alcohol used in a dish will obviously burn off faster
- The larger the pan used will help to accelerate the alcohol burn-off
- Alcohol added to boiling liquid will burn off approx. 15% alcohol leaving 85% alcohol in the dish
- Alcohol flambed in a dessert will burn off 25% alcohol, leaving 75% alcohol
- Alcohol stirred into a baked or simmered dish and cooked for 15 minutes leaves 45% alcohol
- Baking or simmering for 30 minutes leaves 35% alcohol
- 1 hour burns off 75% alcohol yet still leaving 25% alcohol
- 2 hours leaves 10% alcohol
- baking or simmering 3 hours will more than likely burn off the alcohol.