Nav: Home

New research provides practical cooking tips for your red wine sauce

June 06, 2017

Postdoc at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen Pia Snitkjaer has carried out a series of experiments with alcohol in liquid dishes to figure out how to control the alcohol content during cooking for the benefit of large kitchens, the food industry, the gastronomy and restaurant sector as well as in the kitchen at home.

"In the experiments I used 900 ml veal stock plus 150 ml beer or wine. At this mixing ratio, the alcohol concentration starts at approx. 2 %, but drops to 0.2% after a half an hour of cooking," explains Pia Snitkjaer, who underlines that this example is based on wine.

Precisely how much alcohol is left in, for example, a red wine sauce depends on three factors that you need to check if you want to control the alcohol content in a liquid dish or sauce, namely how much the dish is reduced, whether it is cooked with or without a lid and how much alcohol is added from the start (more about this in the facts section below).

"One should remember that you typically eat only 1/2-1 deciliter of sauce. If we, for example, assume that you eat 100 ml sauce, with a concentration of 2 vol % it corresponds to an intake of 2ml of alcohol. There are 15 ml in a unit of alcohol, so a pregnant woman would also be able to handle it," explains Pia Snitkjaer.

All other factors the researchers studied - including the dimensions of the saucepan and the cooking temperature - proved to only be significant because they could affect how quickly the sauce was reduced.

Using elementary physical chemistry, which has to do with understanding the volatility of alcohol when mixed with water and heated, Associate Professor Jens Risbo from the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen has developed a model that shows how the alcohol behaves in liquid dishes. That it is the volume of the dish that is the best parameter for determining the alcohol content - and not the cooking time - matters in relation to which techniques you can use if you want to reduce the alcohol content in the finished dish.

"You can reduce the alcohol content quickly by bringing a dish to a rolling boil, because by boiling hard, the volume will also decrease rapidly. But if you do not want the food to boil down too much, you can keep adding water as water evaporates, which will also lower the alcohol content both by dilution and evaporation," says Pia Snitkjaer.

Put the lid on for a reverse distillation

If you want to reduce the alcohol content, you can put the lid on the saucepan.

"By placing a lid on the saucepan, there is a kind of reverse distillation where the alcohol disappears even more rapidly from the saucepan than the water. This is because alcohol is more volatile than water and thus can more readily evaporate. This is the same effect you use when you distil alcohol - you heat it up, so the alcohol evaporates more than the water, after which you can condense the vapours and obtain more concentrated alcohol," explains Pia Snitkjaer.

The lid does not sit tightly on the saucepan, allowing the steam escape under the lid so that the alcohol evaporates, while the water condenses more preferential on the colder lid and runs back into the pan. As it cooks, more and more alcohol escapes under the lid, while the contents of the saucepan will contain a higher percentage of water. Experiments show that the use of a lid has a dramatic effect on obtaining a low concentration of alcohol.

Important for the calorie balance

The study has an impact on the calculation of the calorie content in recipes. Alcohol contains a lot of calories, but will probably be listed in a recipe with the calorie content the alcohol has as an ingredient before it is actually added to the dish, which results in a misleadingly high result.

"How many fewer calories there are depends on how much alcohol is evaporated. 1 gram of alcohol gives approx. 7 calories, so every time you evaporate 1 gram of alcohol, you have 7 fewer calories in the saucepan," explains Pia Snitkjaer, who plans to develop the model to make it even more practical.

"It would be nice to be able to say precisely what this means for a tomato soup, a meat dish, etc. There are many things that can vary the result, but you can get some ideas about what happens when some of the most important parameters are changed - for example, what happens if you have a lot of sugar or a lot of gelatine, like in a veal stock," says Pia Snitkjaer.
-end-
Facts

Original article: Fate of ethanol during cooking of liquid foods prepared with alcoholic beverages: Theory and experimental studies

Authors:

Postdoc Pia Snitkjaer and Associate Professor Jens Risbo, both from the Department of Food Science (FOOD) at the University of Copenhagen.

Julia Ryapushkina, Master of Science student at the Department of Food Science (FOOD) at the University of Copenhagen.

Erik Skovenborg, medical practitioner who has an interest in how beer and alcohol affect health.

Arne Astrup, head of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS) at the University of Copenhagen.

Lene Moelskov Bech, Carlsberg Research Center.

Morten Georg Jensen, Carlsberg Research Center.

The result:

Three main factors affect the alcohol content in cooked liquid foods:
  • The alcohol evaporates from liquid foods according to how much the dish is reduced in volume. It is therefore the volume that is the best parameter to describe the loss of ethanol and not, as one might believe, the cooking time. (The research was carried out using veal stocks, but can be assumed to apply to all liquid dishes).
  • The concentration of alcohol in the saucepan is further reduced if you use a lid while cooking.
  • The amount of alcohol you add to the dish from the start.

Based on the first factor (that the alcohol evaporates from the saucepan according to how much the dish is reduced), the researchers have developed a model that provides an overview of how much alcohol you can expect to be left in a liquid dish after cooking when you have added wine, beer or other alcohol at the beginning of the cooking process. The model is applicable for all volatile substances, which also includes aromatic compounds, but the researchers have only measured alcohol (ethanol) in this research project.

The research is funded by:

Danish Brewers' Association; Carlsberg Research Center; OPUS Centre, University of Copenhagen

Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

Related Alcohol Articles:

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.
Alcohol marketing and underage drinking
A new study by a research team including scientists from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation provides a systematic review of research that examines relationships between exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol use behaviors among adolescents and young adults.
Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.
Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).
Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.
Alcohol-induced brain damage continues after alcohol is stopped
Now, a joint work of the Institute of Neuroscience CSIC-UMH, in Alicante, and the Central Institute of Mental Health of Mannheim, in Germany, has detected, by means of magnetic resonance, how the damage in the brain continues during the first weeks of abstinence, although the consumption of alcohol ceases.
Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.
How genes affect tobacco and alcohol use
A new study gives insight into the complexity of genetic and environmental factors that compel some of us to drink and smoke more than others.
Cutting societal alcohol use may prevent alcohol disorders developing -- Otago research reveals
Society must take collective responsibility to reduce the harm caused by alcohol use disorders, a University of Otago academic says.
More Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.