Alcohol Does Not “Cook Out” of Food

Food Fact: The myth that alcohol does all cook out stems from the fact that alcohol has a much lower boiling point temperature (173° F / 78.5° C) than water (212° F / 100° C).  Thus, if the temperature is above 78.5° C, then the alcohol should boil off, right? A group of researchers in 1992 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Idaho, and Washington State University decided to find out. In the end, what they discovered was that the “alcohol cooks out” assumption didn’t turn out to be correct for the vast majority of ways most people prepare food with alcohol.  In their study, they used a variety of recipes with various sources of alcohol and a variety of preparation types, including simmering, baking, flaming, refrigerating over night, etc.  What they found was that the amount of alcohol remaining after cooking was in the range of 4%-85%. There will always be some alcohol remaining as long as there is still any kind of moisture in whatever you are cooking.   The reason behind this is that the alcohol binds with water and forms an azeotrope (mixture of two or more compounds where the ratio cannot be changed by simple distillation).  So as you boil the azeotrope, the ratio of alcohol in the compound stays the same throughout the boiling process.   So you will always retain some alcohol, unless you boil off all the liquid. (Learn More about this fact here)

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