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Alcohol: It won't always cook off

If you're someone who is trying to avoid alcohol or who wants to make sure you don't drink and drive, it's a good idea to understand how alcohol is used in cooking. While there's a myth that all alcohol cooks out of food when it's used in broths or sauces, the reality is that it's unlikely that all alcohol will cook off.

Part of how the alcohol affects your food depends on when it's added. For example, if a full bottle of wine is added at the beginning of the preparation process and cooked for 45 minutes, there will be less alcohol remaining than if the dish was made and alcohol was added after it was done cooking. In that case, almost all the alcohol added would remain, adjusting for a small amount that would evaporate because of the heat of the bowl or plate.

Another thing to keep in mind is how much alcohol is in a dish versus how much you've eaten. For instance, if there is a cup of wine in a cake and you eat only one of eight slices, the likelihood of intoxication is very low. However, if there is a bottle of wine in a dish with only two servings, your likelihood of intoxication is higher.

Alcohol content diminishes over time, but if you only cook a meal for 15 minutes on a low setting, you can expect around 40 percent of the alcohol to remain. After an hour, around a quarter of the alcohol remains. Keep that in mind, and remember that you may still need a designated driver if you ingest enough alcohol baked into your food.

Source: Dr. Weil, "Does Alcohol Really Cook Out Of Food?," accessed May 21, 2018

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