You've probably heard that alcohol cooks off when you use it to prepare food. On the other hand, you might have heard that it doesn't and worry that foods cooked with beer aren't safe to feed your kids. The answer varies from chef to chef, but the decision to use beer in meals you're kids will eat is one you can better make by understanding the process of cooking with alcoholic liquids.
Alcohol burns off at 172 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's feasible to serve your child something that has come to the boiling point, such as a sauce or soup. However, not all cooking methods are effective for removing the alcohol from the beer, notes "Fine Cooking" magazine. The quantity of beer you add and the cooking time also play a role in whether any alcohol is present in the finished product or if it's safe to let your kids eat it.
The best cooking methods for removing the alcohol from beer are those that require extended heating times. For example, stirring beer into a pot and allowing it to simmer for 1 hour leaves more trace amounts of alcohol than if you simmer the dish for over 2 hours, according to "Fine Cooking" magazine. However, beer doesn't have as high an alcohol content as wine or spirits, so the remaining amount of alcohol might be lower than if you cook with liquids that have a higher alcohol percentage.
If you dump an entire six pack into a pot of soup, the alcohol left in it is likely to be higher than if you just add half a can. Generally, beer adds a tasty flavor to recipes and is often used to steam meats, such as mussels or bratwursts or as a marinade for grilled meats, such as chicken or steak. The small amount used for these dishes likely results in a meal your child can safely eat, provided it is heated to the boiling point. More than a splash for flavor, however, might leave enough residual alcohol that could be unsafe.
Serving your kids foods cooked with beer is likely safe, according to the Cooking with Kids website. The trace amounts of alcohol that remain are generally harmless and simply concentrate the flavor of the beer in the food. However, the choice to cook with beer is a personal one and if it makes you uncomfortable, use stock or broth instead. It infuses your meal with flavor, but contains no alcohol.
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