Alcohol retention in food preparation

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,320 words

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There has been an increased interest in the use of wines, liqueurs, and distilled spirits in preparing main dishes, sauces, and desserts. Alcoholic ingredients fulfill the needs of "nouvelle" and "light" cuisines as substitutes for heavy creams and starches, and they provide new and interesting flavors.

Because of the low boiling point of alcohol (ethanol) relative to water (78.5[degrees]C vs 100[degrees]C), alcohol has generally been assumed to evaporate from foods during cooking. This hypothesis has not, however, been validated by actual experimentation. Also, no information is available about food preparation with alcoholic ingredients that involves no heat application or that involves temperatures below the boiling point of alcohol.

We conducted this study to document the extent of alcohol lost in food preparation. Six recipes were selected to examine alcohol loss due to various methods of preparation. The preparation methods included applying no heat and refrigerating overnight, adding alcohol to a hot sauce, flaming, oven baking, simmering for a short time, and simmering for a long time.

Alcohol retention data are important to dietitians when they calculate the alcoholic and energy content for prepared food items, because alcohol contributes 6.93 kcal/g of alcohol (1). Alcohol's presence in significant amounts affects the energy value of a food. Our study was designed to determine alcohol retention for the National Nutrient Data Bank.


Six recipes were selected for this study (Table 1). The basis for their selection was varied exposure to heat treatment, as outlined in Table 1. The recipes, including preparation with minor modifications, were those of the Pillsbury Kitchens, Cookbook (2). All recipes were prepared in duplicate.


All samples intended for analysis were ground and/or homogenized. Subsamples were then removed without further treatment for moisture determination. A second set of subsamples was diluted with appropriate amounts of all-glass-distilled, chilled water and were homogenized using a Polytron (Brinkman Instruments, Westbury, NY) for 2 minutes at high speed. The slurry was then centrifuged (International Equipment Co, Needham...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A12411503