Feb 4, 2013

"Alcohol cooks off in cooked food" and nine other homemaking myths revealed!

 We've all heard them... things that have been around forever, you just assume it's true... but now...

I don't know about you, but occasionally I use wine to flavor the food I make for my family (very rarely, as my hubby doesn't drink and doesn't really like the smell/flavor of alcohol). There is a history of alcoholism in my family, and while I don't find that I struggle with this addiction, I don't want to start my kids off on the wrong foot.

Fortunately they are both very aware of the dangers of alcohol and drugs {thank you Red Ribbon week}, so we are doing well.

 I am sure you have heard that when wine or beer is added to a recipe the alcohol cooks off, right?
Me too. Well, I recently discovered that it isn't true (ten years later).

Contrary to popular opinion, cooking removes only a portion of the alcohol added to a dish, a much smaller portion than previously thought. Perhaps most interesting, 75% of the alcohol remains after flambe-ing. A whopping thirty-five percent (35%) of alcohol remains even after a dish has been simmered 30 minutes on the stove, according to a 2003 USDA study. Alcohol remains in a dish chemically, even when its taste in undetectable – a very important consideration for someone in sobriety or for those cooking for someone in sobriety.

 USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Release 5 (2003)

Table from USDA Showing Percent of Alcohol Retained After Cooking
Preparation Method         Percent of Alcohol Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
15 minutes 40%
30 minutes 35%
1 hour 25%
1.5 hours 20%
2 hours 10%
2.5 hours 5%

  From the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April, 2002, by Eleese Cunningham:
"The extent of loss depends on the severity of the heat application, or any other factor favoring evaporation. Cooking time had the greatest impact on alcohol retention. Flaming a dish results in much smaller losses of alcohol than cooking. Uncooked and briefly cooked dishes had the highest alcohol retention. Alcohol retention during cooking was also greatly affected by the size of the cooking vessel used. The smaller the cooking utensil the greater the amount alcohol retained. This was likely due to the smaller surface area for evaporation."

For some of you, you may not care.  You may find your kids sleep better on those nights... (I kid, I kid), but for me and my house... I will be substituting chicken broth for wine in future recipes that my kids will be eating.

Other home-making myths that are simply not true:

  • Myth: Storing batteries in the freezer or fridge will make them last longer  
    Fact: Duracell and Energizer's websites both state that exposing batteries to extreme temps - warm or cold - shorten the life of the batteries. Store them in a dry, room temperature spot
  • Myth: Swallowed gum will stay in your digestive system for 7 years.
    Fact: Nope, it passes through to the other side... unchanged... but out it comes!
  • Myth: A tooth left overnight in a cup of Coke will dissolve
    Fact: Not true, however Coke can clean up a penny!
  • Myth: The 5-second-rule  
    Fact: No, as soon as food - or a pacifier- touches a surface that has e coli on it (or trace amounts of feces, cat pee, etc.) it is contaminated, throw it away or wash it well.
  • Myth:  Mayo causes more food poisoning than anything else. 
    Fact: Mayonnaise - store bought, not homemade - actually inhibits the growth of some bacteria, because of the vinegar that is in it.  In store bought mayo, the raw eggs, which can cause salmonella poisoning, are pasteurized
  • Myth:  Microwaving food in a plastic container will release harmful toxins into your food
    Fact: Nope, but it may melt your plastic container... read more about this on the Plasticsinfo.org website)
  • Myth:  Keeping coffee beans in your freezer or refrigerator will keep them fresher, longer
    Fact: Nope, it will dry them out and make them taste bad faster. Coffee beans are porous and have oils, which give them that yummy roasted flavor, and can get dried out and stale tasting. Store coffee at room temperature in air tight containers.
  • Myth:  The average person swallows 8 spiders a year in their sleep
    Fact: No, in fact it was made up to make fun of the tendency for people to believe anything they read on the internet
  • Myth: A box of baking soda in the refrigerator will remove any bad odors.
    Fact: Baking soda does little to remove odors from your refrigerator. You are better off covering the food you are storing in your refrigerator, cleaning the shelving regularly, and tossing old food after a few days.
What are some other myths that should be "revealed"??  

Can I ask you a favor?  Can you click that little button on the top right of my page that says "join this site"?  Just looking for some blog love... :) I promise to return the favor!!


  1. Stopping by from the blog hop...Hello from your newest followers! Would SO love a follow in return www.sugaraunts.com :) Looking forward to reading your posts!
    Colleen at Sugar Aunts

  2. I'm following too! I'm glad to know that I'm not swallowing spiders! LOL I still won't be microwaving plastic though. I'm just crazy like that. I'm glad we "met" today! :)

    1. I know... me too. I just had to post the link because it's full of surprising information!

  3. Thanks so much for exposing the truth. The funny part is, I constantly hear my husband tell costumers ' No worries, it cooks off in the dish', my mother-in-law stores all her batteries in the freezer, and I stopped using plastic in my microwave a year ago. Don't I feel foolish! Thanks for stopping by and following.
    Your newest GFC follower,
    Angie G.

  4. THanks to you I am now enlightened. Great post... Thank you. I am your newest follower (returning your follow). I look forward to more visits.

  5. I am SHOCKED at this info on alcohol!! my gosh...most of my meals I cook with wine..like a cup!! and i am serving little kids this. Thank you for this information....
    I am your newest follower from the hop..pls follow back if you can.

    1. I know. Me too. I was appalled. It' probably not enough to hurt 'em, but it's probably better to be aware!

  6. those are really good information...thank god i dont place any alcohol on my cooking...:)


  7. That's good to know if I cook for the rest of the family that includes little kids. Otherwise, it doesn't really matter. I add wine to certain dishes for the flavour, the alcohol has less importance really, it's the wine flavour I'm after.
    How nice to see someone finally busting those myths (other than the mythbusters, lol), especially the one about Coke, really I didn't think people believed in it anymore but they do!!!

  8. Good info. I've always believe the alcohol thing...I occasionally cook with it but do not drink. Hmmm may have to rethink my recipes.

  9. I am so glad the Spider Myth is made up, great post!

    I'm from the Share the Love blog hope and returning your follow :)

    Sarah xx


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