Cooking for young kids - with alcohol or without?

Joined Sep 5, 2008
I'm wondering how much alcohol is left after cooking with, say... wine. I know a little bit is left, but how bad would it be to feed a toddler risotto if you've added 1/2 cup of white wine with the rice and shallots at the beginning, before the process of adding stock and cooking the rice?

I have been avoiding alcohol completely, replacing it with water or stock whenever possible, but I'm wondering if I can start going back to using alcohol, or if it's better to continue avoiding it.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
there is still a small amount of alcohol that doesn't cook off. No to the toddler eating risotto..........Chef Billyb
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I wouldn't feed a toddler risotto that contained any alcohol.  When my kids were young, I didn't put alcohol in anything they were going to eat and substituted broth or water instead.  When I made risotto I replaced the wine with chicken broth.  The only time I would use alcohol was if I was making beef bourgignon but I would make a separate portion for them with no alcohol in it at all.
Joined May 22, 2010
Ummm... alcohol evaporates at 79 degrees celsius. There is no grey area. If it hits that temp... it evaporates.

Besides...125 ml at 13% alcohol is 16.25 ml of alcohol. How many portions you getting out of that? Let's say 4. Now it's 4 ml of alcohol per portion. Before bringing it to temp. Let's pretend 25% of the alcohol is left after cooking... it's 1 ml per person.

This is an issue?
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
As a matter of fact, PrairieChef, recent experiments show that your contention is incorrect.

We used to think that all the alcohol burned off, leaving only flavor behind. Turns out this is not true. Depending on conditions, cooking style, and the actual dish, there is always some alcohol left. Just not always the same amount. Sometimes, it turns out, there's a high percentage of residual alcohol---as much as 70%.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
I have no problem serving my children stuff cooked with wine. I realize that not everything boils off, as KYHeirloomer rightly points out, but I do not believe that the amount left from 1/4 cup braised for a while is significant in the sense that it's going to hurt them. I think the common habit in many places (e.g. France, Italy, Germany, Japan...) of letting 7-year-olds drink "pink" water (or the equivalent) in small quantities is perfectly reasonable -- what's a tablespoon of wine going to hurt?

My problem is the reverse. I have no problem with it, but my son (he's 5) doesn't like the taste and will refuse to eat things that included more than the faintest dab of wine in the making. So I can't, for example, braise meat in a classic combination of wine, stock, and vegetables, because even though the 1/2 cup or so I'll try to cut down to will reduce, in several hours' braising, to nothing but flavor, it turns out it's the flavor that Sam hates. He'd probably be happy to taste some super-sweet daiquiri kind of thing, but something that actually tastes like what it is, no.
Joined May 22, 2010
Water evaporates at 100 degrees.

Alchohol at 79.

"Depending on conditions, cooking style, and the actual dish" well... no kidding. If we don't get the temp high enough, it will not evaporate. If the alchohol is absorbed into something, sure... But physical laws being what they are, liquids turn to gases at a constant temperature... we're talking about a long, slow simmer in a dish of risotto, followed by more long, slow simmering after the wine has been cooked off.

Even so, lets say we "only" get 30% evaporation due to the temp staying too low. It leaves us with 11.4 ml of alchohol. At four portions, 2.8 ml per per person, combined with food...  I still don't see the issue. If we were talking about liquor filled chocolates, sure... but risotto? Stew? Really? I don't see how 3 ml of alchohol when consumed with a meal is something to be concerned about.

And this is assuming a toddler would eat a full portion... which, of course, they won't. So we're probably back to the 1 ml amount.
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
The more the better ..especially if they are teething./img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif (that's an ironic, roll the eyes face there...just so there is no confusion. )

course, I have used the old scotch/whiskey on the gums treatment for a teething infant. it works ...not a cure all but it does help. ..... especially if you both use it according to weight dosage./img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif   (that's a mostly joking face, don't get wasted with babies FFS and then go blaming me)
Joined Mar 12, 2005
Probably not a good idea, especially if they are real young.

I never use wine in my risotto, so it shouldn't make a huge difference, plus they will have something to look forward to when they get old enough.

Basically this would be the equivlent of giving them a few sips of wine.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Basically this would be the equivlent of giving them a few sips of wine.
Sorry, but I have to disagree.  The amount of alcohol left in the dish after cooking is so small that it really is a non issue.  Once you take in how diluted the alcohol becomes when mixed with the food and other liquids and then the amount that evaporates out and you come up with a percentage that is so small that it is not going to affect a child unless they ate a very large amount.  Besides, I don't understand the hang up of letting a young child have an occasional taste of wine or beer.  I don't buy that those tiny amounts of alcohol, on rare occasions has any effect on a child's development.  I just don't see my bourbon accented BBQ sauce or beer braised brats as providing my daughter with enough alcohol to be of any consequence.  Of course, parents have a right to be concerned about the welfare of thier child, and if they feel that they need to ban all alcohol from thier child's life then that is what they should do.  I just find it a little extreme to go that far.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not offering my 3 year old a bottle of beer or a glass of wine, but she has had a sip and that one sip is usually enough for her to decide that she doesn't like it.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I agree with those who say it's ok to feed my kids food made with alcohol.  I grew up in a different culture, greeks don't have a hint of puritanical beliefs, and alcohol is not considered evil.  We always had sips of alcohol or wine with seltzer, especially at dinner parties.  As far back as I can remember we used to have little juice glasses of beer with our bbq.

The benefits of introducing small amounts of alcohol to children is that they don't usually grow up to be irresponsible drinkers.  When I went away to college I didn't feel the need to get plastered at frat parties or "go out drinking" which was the most common leisure activity (boring!).  Alcohol was a taboo to them, but not to me and all the foreign exchange students and kids of immigrants like me felt the same... we would have a glass of wine with our dinner and that was it.  Of course I would never even dream in imposing this logic to american friends but I will follow this same course with my child.  It's just hard to grasp the intention of a country who recruits kids to the military to possibly die in a war at the age of 18, but not allow them to drink until 21.  Seems a bit senseless.

Needless to say, I don't believe that a minute amount of alcohol in risotto would cause any harmful effects.  And don't forget that hundreds of years ago water was considered unsafe to drink and most of the population drank weak wine and ale instead, children and adults alike.
Joined Aug 25, 2009
100 % agree with you Koukouvagia,

My grandparents and their parents and so on ...all cooked with wine, sherry, whatever. There are so many places in Europe today that just do it as the  the norm.

Being responsible for what quantity your child drinks is a different story.

Cooking with it ? there are just too many dishes my family uses it for. I have taken on the custom as well.

In a risotto ? it is a personal call FF, when I look back at all things that were tolerated in the past and we now get squimish at today, well it kind of puts things all into perspective for me.

When I was a baby I needed "Gripe Water", trust me, I am no worse for the wear. Now they make it without alcohol........."They took the edge off and now thats why you have what you have today."             Screamers..... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Joined Apr 3, 2009
I remember in 7th grade we had a pot luck and one girl bought in Brandied Pears....everyone was like wooooot!

 I would rather feed my kid rissotto made with wine than have my kid drink a can of soda loaded with HFCS and phosphoric acid.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Oh I remember Gripe Water well.  My son had a hard time settling himself to sleep when he was a baby but for some reason the taste (?)  of Gripe Water  did something for him and he was able to settle.  It got to the point with him that we would literally put his soother into the jar and shake it and the taste on his toungue was enough for him.

My kids have had tastes of beer and wine and both hate it.  I remember as a kid tasting my dad's beer and to this day I can't stand beer. 

Now that my kids are older they get whatever I make whether it is cooked with alcohol or not.. but when they were young and growing so fast I wanted to be careful. 
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Joined Dec 23, 2000
B. Adams...

"I would rather feed my kid rissotto made with wine than have my kid drink a can of soda loaded with HFCS and phosphoric acid."

You make a really good point there! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

Joined Jan 29, 2010
It has never even crossed my mind not to cook w/ wine/liquor for fear of my child ingesting alcohol... The amount of alcohol that you use when cooking food is so tiny, let alone thats left after some boils/evaporates off is just way too tiny to worry about. If you've ever given your child cough meds they've had *FAR* more alcohol than they could ever get in food... Just seems like a crazy thing to worry about. :Shrug 
Joined Nov 5, 2007
  I remember as a kid tasting my dad's beer and to this day I can't stand beer. 
I remember being about 10 years old and the family was moving to South Bend, Indiana.  We were having a new house built, and my father was trying to save a few bucks by doing some things himself.

One of these tasks was digging the hole for the septic tank.  I was enslaved to assist.  So one hot early summer day Dad and I were digging away.  Tough, dirty work.  He suggested we take a break.  I collapsed on the ground, he went in the house.  Moments later he came out with an ice cold can of Stroh's beer in each hand.  He handed one to me.  To this day it is still the best beer I ever had.

I think that if children grow up where the moderate use of alcohol is commonplace they will grow up with a responsible respect for it, and not be overly tempted by a mysterious, forbidden fruit.

Joined Nov 6, 2004
     Koukouvagia, your words were thoughtfully selected and to the point.  Nicely said /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif


   With our three children we didn't keep them away from foods that were cooked with proper proportions of wine in it.  Nor would we keep them from eating an occasional chocolate chip cookie prepared with vanilla extract either.

   That being said...

    We were always careful (especially when our children were young) when introducing any new food to them.  

  How old?

Joined Feb 26, 2007
I've never considered this to be an issue.  The small amounts of wine used in a dish, say a risotto or a lasagne etc burn off pretty much anyway during the cooking process, leaving only a residual amount.  Both my teens have grown up eating food cooked in this manner and are fit, healthy, intelligent young adults.

I've always cooked with wine - whereas I wouldn't ever serve anything just flambed (sp?) like pancakes to a very young child, wine added for flavour only with a longish cooking process - surely that can't hurt.

Here's an interesting fact - I bought some mouthwash yesterday for the family, and it has a great big label on it saying "NO ALCOHOL".  There must be many items out there that we use for our children that do contain it, cough syrup as mentioned being one.  I was quite surpised by this as I never new there was ever any in mouthwash (brand name is named after a Mr Lister...).

Teamfat - I agree with what you say about introducing children to alcohol , gently,  Otherwise when they hit legal age depending on the local age limit, they won't know how it will affect them. They'll come of age, go out, scoot down lots of it and could get into all sorts of strife.  If they know how it affects them, it is much better.

Anyhow, enough soapbox, back OT.  FrenchFries, if it is of concern to you you, leave it out.  Or add it right at the beginning so it can cook off as much as possible.

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