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More Than A Taste of Alcohol

Janet Roloff reports on the annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association in Kansas City, MO.

Recipes frequently call for flavoring dishes with wine or other alcoholic spirits — often as a replacement for heavy creams and starches in “nouvelle” or light cuisine. Don’t worry about inebriating your dinner guests or adding “empty” calories, cooks are told; virtually all of the alcohol volatilizes during food preparation. While that may sound plausible, new research shows that up to 85% of the alcohol used in cooking may end up in the finished entree.

Though simmering a pot roast at 185° for 2 ½ hours removed 95% of the red wine added, 25 minutes of baking at 375° F retained 45% of the dry sherry in scalloped oysters. Because brandy alexander pie involves no cooking, the researchers were hardly surprised to find that 75% of its alcohol ended up on the dessert plate. But when 75% of the alcohol survived flaming for 48 seconds in cherries jubilee, study leader Evelyn A. Augustin of Washington State University in Pullman was so surprised that she repeated the experiment several times – with no change in results.

And what makes Grand Marnier sauce taste so heady? Some 85% of the alcohol in its liqueur survives blending with a boiling mixture of sugar, cornstarch and orange juice.

By Science News v. 136 11/11/89

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.