Marsha Lee-Marshall, a teratology educator for the Pregnancy Risk Line said, “The small amount of alcohol left in cooked foods or alcohol used in some desserts has never increased the risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or caused Fetal Alcohol Syndrome” – it’s relatively safe therefore for pregnant women to consume foods cooked with wine. Generally, cooking out the alcohol content in your dish depends on your cooking methods – the longer you cook, the lower the alcohol content remains – but a 100% removal of alcohol is rare. The key is taking in foods cooked with wine in moderation.
Experience-wise, when I had my son, my abstinence from almost everything I eat and drink back in my non-pregnant days was way too much. I mean we all know that alcohol intake is a big no-no during pregnancy but is consuming food cooked with wine also affect our unborn baby?
What if I actually eat boozy foods instead? What can we do to guarantee our baby’s safety secondary to what we eat?
What happens when you cook wine?
Cooking wine is focusing more on the flavor and removing most of its alcohol content. Alcohol not only evaporates at room temperature, and it burns off significantly when cooking.
Studies suggest that the longer the cooking, the more alcohol is removed – a food scientist Shirley Corriher added that even after 2.5 hours of simmering, some alcohol remains in the food.
Similarly, a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory showed that the remaining alcohol depends on the cooking method and cooking time.
- After being added to food, baked, or simmered for 15 minutes, 40% of the alcohol will be retained.
- After cooking for an hour, only about 25% will remain.
- And even after 2.5 hours of cooking, 5% of the alcohol will still be there. Of course, the % of alcohol in an individual food serving will be lower.
Tips to burn off alcohol faster
Add the wine early in the cooking process – remember that any alcohol added to a hot dish later in the cooking process has higher alcohol content. You may find the following tips helpful.
- Use a wide or bigger cooking vessel.
- Open pan lid while cooking.
- Avoid using a slow cooker; use a hotter temperature.
- Cook for at least 90 minutes or more.
Did you know that soy sauce – one of the common kitchen condiments, may contain greater than 2% alcohol by volume?
Accordingly, the alcohol is not actually added but a result of fermentation – when the wheat ingredient in soy sauce breaks down to sugar, some of the sugar changes into alcohol.
Of course, you can adjust or even use fewer alcoholic ingredients (or less wine) in your dish, if you choose to, this will guarantee a lower alcohol content in your food and the finished dish is fine to eat by pregnant including children, if cooked all the way through.
Non-alcoholic substitute for wine in cooking
If you want, there are non-alcoholic substitutes instead of using wine in cooking – making your food just as delicious as you love. Grape juice may replace wine equally while you may need to mix-experiment with other ingredients to make an effective substitute.
Healthline identified the following that may be used as substitutes for wine in the kitchen:
- Wine vinegar can replace wine in cooking without having a major impact on the taste of recipes. It’s important to dilute the vinegar with water before using it in cooking, due to its intense acidity.
- Water doesn’t mostly help in flavor but contributes liquid to recipes, so water can replace wine in cooking.
- Tomato juice instead of red wine. It’s not only great as a cooking ingredient but also healthy – rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
- Canned mushroom liquid is an excellent replacement for red wine.
- Apple juice and Ginger ale instead of white wine.
- Chicken, beef, and vegetable stock may be an effective replacement for white wine.
- Cranberry and Pomegranate juice instead of red wine.
Can pregnant women drink alcohol?
It’s better to turn down that glass of wine as soon as you confirm you’re pregnant. Alcohol appears to be very harmful during the first 3 months of pregnancy, and drinking anytime during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters is still discouraged.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that you must avoid alcohol when you’re pregnant, think you might be pregnant, and when you’re trying to be pregnant. Take note that no amount of alcohol is considered safe for your baby.
A study done by a healthcare company Kaiser Permanente found that the risk of having a miscarriage and stillbirth is highest if you drink in the first 10 weeks of your pregnancy. Alcohol can get into your bloodstream, through the placenta, and to your baby, affecting normal development.
Avoid alcohol, by all means; this is the easiest way to avoid devastating consequences on the unborn child. Finding alternatives is okay, provided that what you are drinking is a real “non-alcoholic drink” or 0% alcohol to make them as safe as juice or water.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can eating boozy foods make you tipsy/drunk?
It’s probably not, unless you’re binge eating, trying really hard to get drunk, and the wine is cooked shortly or added late in the cooking process.
Experts agreed that it would be very difficult to eat enough boozy food to have a blood alcohol content over the normal limit.
Is it safe to eat cakes while pregnant?
Talking about the weird “cravings” during pregnancy, I know it’s hard to say no to sweets especially cakes. It’s okay to eat less but avoid binge eating.
The following are some of the reasons why eating cakes while pregnant is discouraged:
1) Cakes may contain alcohol – though not all but some cakes are added with alcoholic ingredients for flavor purposes. Binge eating cakes may poses negative impacts on your baby.
2) Cakes may lead to unhealthy weight gain – your needed weight gain during pregnancy must come from healthy and nutritious foods.
3) Cakes may contain unhealthy supplements.
4) Speaking of sanitation, cakes may contain harmful bacteria – it’s suggested to eat homemade cake instead of store-bought desserts.
Can I serve foods cooked with wine to my kids?
It’s best not to give foods cooked with alcohol to our kids as this may still affect them differently.
But then again, the important thing about cooking with wine is ensuring that the wine is cooked off before we decide to have our children taste the dish. To achieve this, please re-check the tips mentioned above.
While alcohol can improve and help us achieve our flavor goals in cooking, no pregnant woman would intentionally harm her baby by making and eating foods cooked with wine – relatively, no parents want to give alcohol-containing foods to their children as not to harm them as well.
Using wine or any alcoholic ingredients in cooking is generally not a concern, provided that we understand the importance of cooking the alcoholic ingredients properly – that is making sure that the alcohol is significantly removed before serving the dish, especially to expecting women and children.
It’s also noteworthy to eat and drink in moderation, taking into consideration the intake of any alcohol-containing foods and drinks.
How about you, what’s your view on this topic? I would love to know your points in the comments section below.