Everything you need to know about alcohol & baking
By Kimberly Nolan chocoholicstamper
I needed to know exactly how adding alcohol/extracts would affect an alcoholic family member& both a grandniece& nephew born premature with continued health concerns. So many cooks/bakers believe that baking or cooking "evaporates" any alcohol in a recipe. This is not true. I discovered through research(with guidance & lots of help from my family doctor) exactly what happens to the alcohol added to my recipes. What you do with this information is a very personal choice. But I believe in the old adage "forwarned is forarmed". I'm baking for people I love so it was important I knew the facts.
This was my personal choice and with all my research I decided a dessert with vanilla added such as chocolate chip cookies or cake, which both have such a small amt added to the recipe, were ok...but Cherries Jubilee was not lol!
So this is what I found after looking up the sites my doctor suggested and then from various reliable gov't sites, compiling as much info as I thought relevant. Hopefully someone else will benefit from all this research :)
Most of our favorite desserts or foods made with extracts have alcohol in them and others have wine or some other type of alcohol. I looked it ALL up :)
For example, Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin as the primary ingredient. Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water. In the United States, in order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the solution contains a minimum 35% of alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon. Double and triple strength (up to 20-fold) vanilla extracts are available.
Natural vanilla flavoring is derived from real vanilla beans with little to no alcohol. The maximum amount of alcohol that is usually present is only 2%-3%. Also on the market is imitation vanilla extract, a wood by-product usually made by soaking alcohol into wood which contains vanillin. The vanillin is then chemically treated to mimic the taste of natural vanilla.(Food and Drug Administration (April 12010)."Food and Drugs, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Food for Human Consumption, Part 169—Food Dressings and Flavorings". Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Another favorite is McCormick "Pure Lemon Extract" which contains 83% alcohol etc.
You CAN buy Vanilla extract that does not contain alcohol if you want. Arizona Vanilla Company, ( www.arizonavanilla.com) offers a vanilla that is made without alcohol for example and you can make other types of substitutions....using extra lemon juice/flavoring instead of an extract as well.
The conventional wisdom accepted by just about everyone in the food world is that all the alcohol you add to a dish evaporates or dissipates during cooking. It’s wrong. In fact, you have to cook something for a good 3 hours to eradicate all traces of alcohol. Some cooking methods are less effective at removing alcohol than just letting it stand out uncovered overnight. (
Chefs and cooks can't assume that when they simmer, bake, or torch (flambé to the more sophisticated cook) with alcohol that only the flavor remains when they're ready to serve.
James Peterson, a cookbook writer who studied chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, stated in his encyclopedic cookbook called Sauces:
You need to cook a sauce for at least 20 to 30 seconds after adding wine to it to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Since alcohol evaporates at 172°F (78°C), any sauce or stew that is simmering or boiling is certainly hot enough to start the evaporation process of the alcohol.
A study conducted several years ago showed that alcohol remained in several recipes after the preparation was complete. In the study, a pot roast was simmered with burgundy for 2 1/2 hours; a chicken dish was simmered for only 10 minutes after the burgundy was added; scalloped oysters made with dry sherry baked for 25 minutes; and cherries jubilee was doused with brandy, then ignited.
Important: The fact that some of the alcohol remains could be of significant concern to recovering alcoholics, parents of small children, and others who have ethical or religious reasons for avoiding alcohol.
But here's the shocker: Would you believe that the cherries jubilee had the highest alcohol retention of all four recipes? Around 78 percent of the alcohol remained after the flames went out. The study's authors concluded that cooking will result in the removal of some, but not all, of the alcohol.
In the study, the extent of alcohol loss depended on a couple factors: First, how severe the heat was when applied in the cooking process; second, the pot's surface area. The bigger the pan, the more surface area, the more alcohol that evaporates during cooking.
Study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory in an articles called Alcohol retention in food preparation, by Augustin J, Augustin E, Cutrufelli RL, Hagen SR, Teitzel C., J Am Diet Assoc. 1992 Apr;92(4):486-8, calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish based on various cooking methods.
The results are as follows:
Preparation Method - Percent of Alcohol Retained:
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat- 85% retained
alcohol flamed- 75% retained
no heat, stored overnight- 70% retained
Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol NOT stirred into mixture- 45% retained
Baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
15 minutes - 40% retained
30 minutes - 35% retained
1 hour - 25% retained
1.5 hours - 20% retained
2 hours - 10% retained
2.5 hours - 5%
I wanted to include with all this information the best site I found with substitutions for the alcohol used in baking.
Substitutions in Cooking - How To Substitute For Alcohol
Following is a general list of non-alcoholic substitutes that can be used when cooking with alcohol is simply not an option. Choose the option that best matches the flavor of the dish you are making: Article by Linda Stradley of "What's Cooking America" and another article called "Cooking with Wine"
Amaretto - Non-Alcoholic almond extract. (Substitute 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for 2 tablespoons Amaretto.)
Anisette - Anise Italian soda syrup or fennel. Also use the herbs anise or fennel.
Beer - Chicken broth, beef broth, mushroom broth, white grape juice, ginger ale.
Bourbon - 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of non-alcoholic vanilla extract.
Brandy - Water, white grape juice, apple cider or apple juice, diluted peach or apricot syrups. (Substitute equal amounts of liquid.)
Champagne - Ginger ale, sparkling apple cider, sparkling cranberry juice, or sparkling white grape juice.
Coffee Liqueur - To replace 2 tablespoons of liqueur, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chocolate extract mixed with 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, which has been mixed in 2 tablespoons of water. Can also substitute expresso, non-alcoholic coffee extract or coffee syrup.
Cognac - Juice from peaches, apricots, or pears.
Cointreau - Orange juice or frozen orange juiceconcentrate.
Creme de menthe - Spearmint extract or oil ofspearmint diluted with a little water or grapefruit juice.
Grand Marnier or Orange-Flavored Liqueur - Unsweetened orange juice concentrate or orange juice. (Substitute 2 tablespoons unsweetened orange juice concentrate or 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon orange extract for 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier.)
Kahlua - Coffee or chocolate-flavored liqueur. (Substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chocolate extract or substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon instant coffee in 2 tablespoons water
Peppermint Schnapps - Non-alcoholic mint or peppermint extract, mint Italian soda syrup, or mint leaves.
Port Wine, Sweet Sherry, or Fruit-Flavored Liqueur) - Orange juice or apple juice. (Substitute equal amount of liquid.)
Rum (light or dark) - Water, white grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice or apple cider, or syrup flavored with almond extract. (Substitute equal amounts of liquid.)
Sake - Rice vinegar.
Sherry or Bourbon - Orange or pineapple juices, peach syrup, or non-alcoholic vanilla extract. (Substitute equal amount of liquid 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.)
Southern Comfort - Peach flavored nectar combined with a small amount of cider vinegar.
Tequila - Cactus juice or nectar.
Triple Sec - Orange juice concentrate, orange juice, orange zest or orange marmalade.
Vermouth, Dry - White grape juice, white wine vinegar, or non-alcoholic white wine.
Vermouth, Sweet - Apple juice, grape juice, balsamic vinegar, non-alcoholic sweet wine, or water with lemon juice.
Whiskey - If a small amount is called for, it can be eliminated.
Vodka - White grape juice or apple cider combined with lime juice or use plain water in place of the vodka.
Gewurztraminer - White grape juice combined with lemon juice.
Grappa - Grape juice.
Port Wine - Concord grape juice with some lime zest added, cranberry juice with some lemon juice added, or grape juice concentrate. Substitute orange juice or apple juice for lighter ports
Red Wine - Red grape juice, cranberry juice, chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, clam juice, fruit juices, flavored vinegar. (Substitute equal amount of liquid.)
White Wine - Water, chicken broth, vegetable broth, white grape juice, ginger ale, white grape juice.
As you can see this took quite a while to compile and in the end the choice will always be a personal one.
I believe the old adage "Forewarned is Forarmed !!!
So hopefully this will help clear up some of the misconceptions out there about alcohol and cooking/baking
AND give anyone interested the necessary information they need to make an informed choice.
We bake and cook for our families because we love them and want them to enjoy our food and feel the love we put in it... so personally I believe all information... if correct...is good information.
I can not say it enough....This is a very personal choice...one we each make for ourselves and for our families. So there is no right or wrong choice.
Some foods will taste different without the alcohol. I can't imagine a chocolate chip cookie without vanilla in it but I can choose to use a brand with or without alcohol in this instance. Not all recipes have such an easy solution. And I imagine some substitutions will make such a small difference in the taste and texture of a recipe tha it would never be missed but for others....it will make a big enough difference that we might choose not to make that recipe for certain family members.
So it all comes down to taste for most people but for those few of us who may worry about the effects of alcohol on a certain family member or friend it is always good to know exactly how much alcohol is going to be "burned" off during baking and if it is an acceptable amount in that circumstance.
Having another choice is never a bad thing in my opinion and having all the facts about something is always better than not.
So thats it...in a nut shell !! :)
The holidays are just around the corner...so to all my JAP friends... Happy Baking and Happy Happy Holidays!!!
Love, Joy and Peace to Everyone !!!
hanan whitney nazzal - Sep 17, 2012
very good info kimberly i will sure use this info am not alcoholic i just dont drink and i always omit the alcohol thanx for posting
Kimberly Nolan chocoholicstamper - Sep 24, 2012
You"re so welcome Hanan! Im not an alcoholic personally and there are some recipes that just wouldnt be the same without the alcohol. But for so many others there are really great substitutions that can be made that dont alter the flavor of the end product.
I guess i just always like to know what my options are. and I grew up forever believing what so many bakers believe...that alcohol is either burned out or evaporated during the cooking/baking process.
When I found this to be untrue I just had to find out as much as I could about the whole idea of baking with alcohol in my desserts and other items etc. guess its a bakers trait...curiousity :)
hopefully someone else will find the information useful. even if it is purly for knowleges sake alone....
I guess I see it as... too much knowledge is never a bad thing where my family is concerned.
So if I want cherries jubilee...which I love to make for dramatic purposes...I'll make it on a night when a certain family member will not be there.
Then they will not have to ask or feel embarrassed about asking whether or not there is still alcohol in it after the beautiful flames burn down!!!
Happy Baking and Cooking to all my JAP friends!!! The holidays are sneaking up on us pretty quickly !!! Enjoy..with or without alcohol!!!
Kimberly Nolan chocoholicstamper - Sep 24, 2012
I tried this recipe and say it's Family Tested & Approved!
Toni Cross reallygood - Sep 24, 2012
Thank you so much for posting this. I'm saving it so I can go back to it and use it as a reference whenever I need to find a substitute for any recipe calling for alcohol.
Ora Dennis oldennis - Oct 21, 2012
Thank you so much for your intense research. I also have alcoholics in my family an would not want to cause them difficulty. Thank you especially for the info. on the extracts.