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Boiling over with curiosity: What happens to alcohol during the cooking process?

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Boiling over with curiosity: What happens to alcohol during the cooking process?

POSTED ON: 04/09/2020

Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil blend, lemon, garlic, celery, cayenne pepper, and that special secret ingredient. What’s your secret to delicious boiled seafood? For many of us in Louisiana, beer makes its way into that recipe. And if you’re preparing a side dish menu for your Good Friday and Easter crawfish boils and gatherings, you'll notice there is certainly no shortage of delicious recipes that call for alcohol in the ingredient list. But there does seem to be a shortage of understanding as to what happens once the alcohol is cooked. Can you get drunk eating foods cooked with alcohol? Or does it all evaporate out? We’re not food experts, but our research has found a few interesting things.

Of course it cooks out….doesn't it?

We’ve always been told that alcohol cooks out of food (but we’ve also been told that it takes 7 years to digest swallowed gum, and apparently that’s not true either). The assumption was that since the boiling point of alcohol or ethanol is low relative to water, alcohol evaporates during cooking. But we’ve learned that this assumption wasn’t actually tested and proven.

What you need to know about cooking with alcohol

It’s important that you understand a few things:
-        The extent of loss of alcohol depends on the severity of the heat application, the type of cooking vessel used, the type of alcohol used, and other factors.
-        If your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit or if you just have a small amount of recently ingested alcohol on your breath, you could potentially fail a breathalyzer test regardless of how the alcohol entered your body.
-        It’s always important for you to be aware of what you’re eating. Just like someone allergic to eggs needs to know if eggs are in the ingredient list, knowing if your meal contains alcohol is something you need to know.

What the experts say

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published an article about a study conducted. They looked at various ingredients and preparation methods, and they determined that between 4-85% of alcohol was retained in the food after being cooked! This is an important finding. We aren’t advising you to leave beer out of that famous boiled seafood recipe, but we do suggest monitoring your alcohol intake and being aware of the effects alcohol has on your body and your ability to drive safely.

We’re boiling over with solutions to your alcohol monitoring concerns

We’re not food experts, but we are alcohol monitoring device experts. Trust Smart Start of Louisiana for the right solutions whether you’re in need of an automobile interlock device or portable alcohol monitoring. Contact us online or at 1.866.447.8686 to learn how we can help you.

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