Does alcohol cook out when cooking with it?


Does alcohol cook out when cooking with it? I've heard yes and no, so I am not sure. My sister got some barbecued Bourbon Chicken for supper. I didn't' think it had anything to do with alcohol, but I looked on-line and saw it does. If it doesn't cook out of the food, then a Christian has no right to eat it. But why would you want to anyway since alcohol has been used to cook it?  I thought it was like grasshopper ice cream or pie. No alcohol, but there is a drink called grasshopper that contains it.


Alcohol does cook quickly out of foods, but the cooking method, the temperature, the consistency of what is being cooked, and the quantity being cooked all affect the amount of alcohol that remains in the food. See: "Does Alcohol Really Boil Away in Cooking?" for details. What you are not distinguishing is between trace amounts and quantities which can affect your sobriety. Alcohol is a by-product of yeast. Thus freshly baked bread contains trace amounts of alcohol, but nowhere near the quantities that will cause drunkenness. Chocolate chip cookies contain vanilla, which only dissolves in alcohol, yet a teaspoon divided between two to three dozen cookies, which are then baked long enough to lose over half the small amounts of alcohol, won't be noticeable. In addition, simply standing at room temperature such products continue to lose the little alcohol within them.

Your barbecued chicken probably only had some alcohol in the sauce. If it was baked on a grill, the high temperatures and the thinness of the sauce would have removed just about all the alcohol. If additional sauce was added after it was cook, more would have been re-introduced, but again, sitting time would continually reduce the trace amounts in the product.

Let's be overly generous and say that a teaspoon of bourbon was on each chicken piece. Bourbon is 80% alcohol. Cooking would have reduced it down at least 40% of the original, so you are down to a total of 32%. Standing would have reduced it another 15%, so we are down to 27% total. So at most, a person eating a piece of chicken might have consumed a quarter teaspoon of alcohol in a meal and it probably is quite a bit less than that.

Most alcoholic products are added for flavors, but most flavors can be obtained with non-alcoholic ingredients. At the end of "Does Alcohol Really Cook out of Foods?" is a list of substitutes. A few times alcohol is used to dissolve flavors that won't dissolve in water, but often those can be replaced with non-alcoholic versions, called extracts.

We need to be careful not to become like Pharisees who made "zero tolerance" rules, forgetting why the rules exist. "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Matthew 23:24). I don't keep alcoholic beverages in my house for cooking. When a recipe calls for an alcoholic beverage, we find a substitute. But at the same time, when I'm at someone's house or eating at a restaurant, I don't generally ask if alcohol was used in the preparation. If a menu item notes it, I skip over it, but a good deal of that is because I don't like the taste. I'm sure there have been a few dishes that I've tasted that had some alcohol in it, but I'm not concerned because I've never consumed enough to affect my sobriety.

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