Residual Alcohol

Discussion in 'Open Forum With Harold McGee' started by castironchef, Dec 14, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. castironchef

    castironchef

    Messages:
    573
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Some say that all of the alcohol in wine, beer or spirits added to food "cooks out." Others say that it doesn't. Also, I understand that there is a certain natural level of alcohol in many foods.

    How much alcohol remains when it is added to a simmering sauce? Boiling sauce? Does it approach the natural level in foods?

    Thanks again.
     
  2. harold mcgee

    harold mcgee

    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    Because alcohol has a chemical affinity for water, you can never cook all of it out of a dish unless you desiccate it. How much you do cook out depends on the cooking process and its duration. Flaming removes as little as 25%, while long-simmered stews can lose 90-95%.

    Harold
     
  3. suzanne

    suzanne

    Messages:
    3,853
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Food Editor
    So when you deglaze a pan with wine and cook it down "au sec" (until dry -- well, almost), you are removing more than 95% of the alcohol? Using that technique, could you actually remove all of it? How much of the flavor elements from the liquid remain -- more than might be carried away during the evaporation?
     
  4. harold mcgee

    harold mcgee

    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    Yes, if you’re removing nearly all the water, then you’re removing nearly all the alcohol too. But you’d also be removing much of the aromatic content of the liquid. The non-volatile, non-aromatic materials would stay—sugars, acids, salts, savory amino acids, tannins if any. But most of the aromatics would be perfuming the kitchen air.

    Harold
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.