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When you are pregnant, there is a whole host of things you’re required to give up. From limiting caffeine to cutting out unpasteurized cheeses and cured meats, you are making huge changes to your diet.
You might also be wondering if cooking with alcohol is safe during pregnancy. We all know that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a no-no, but the rules about cooking with alcohol are a little less clear.
Here we have collected all the information to help you make the best choices for yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
Table of Contents
Is Cooking With Alcohol Safe During Pregnancy?
Cooking with alcohol is generally safe during your pregnancy. Most of the time when alcohol is included in a recipe, the method of cooking significantly reduces the amount of alcohol or burns it off, leaving behind little to no remnants.
Some cooking methods do not remove enough alcohol, so it is probably best to avoid deserts, such as cannolis or tiramisu that might have some alcohol in them.
There are so many recipes that contain alcohol, so it is always best to be careful and double-check the alcohol content before assuming that it is safe to eat.
Which Cooking Method Removed The Most Alcohol?
Many recipes include alcohol, and different cooking methods remove different amounts of alcohol from the food. Here we have broken down the different cooking methods and times and displayed the amount of alcohol removed during the cooking.
When you look at these figures, consider how much of the food you will be consuming. For example, 100 ml of a sauce containing 2% alcohol is only a negligible 2ml serving of alcohol, meaning even a pregnant woman is safe to consume it.
This cooking method involves setting fire to liquor and then letting it cook until the flames have died down. This only takes a few minutes, so naturally, the alcohol percentage remains quite high.
Usually, there is around 75% alcohol remaining after flambeing, making this one of the cooking methods leaving the most alcohol.
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Simmering involves keeping food just below boiling and letting it bubble until it is cooked. This method removes over half the alcohol, and the longer it cooks, the more alcohol is removed. Once something has simmered for around 15 minutes, there is about 40% of the alcohol remaining.
As this time increases, more alcohol is removed. After simmering for an hour, 20% of the alcohol remains, and after cooking for two hours, only 10% of the alcohol remains.
Boiling food is the process of cooking food at a high temperature in water or liquid, and is usually used to cook sturdier food, such as pasta, rice, or starchy vegetables.
After boiling food for 30 minutes, there is only 10% alcohol remaining, so like a long simmer, this is a safe way of preparing food with alcohol during your pregnancy.
Dishes That May Contain Alcohol
Many dishes may contain alcohol, but here are some of the most common ones.
Lots of meats are braised or slow-cooked in alcohol, so these might be some recipes to avoid during your pregnancy. Consider using a soda or fruit juice as a replacement for the alcohol that you might usually use.
Coq Au Vin
Coq au vin recipes usually contain several types of alcohol, such as brandy, Cognac, or a type of wine. Again, this is maybe a recipe to avoid during your pregnancy.
Another recipe that usually contains red wine, this can be substituted for a different ingredient if you can’t do without beef bourguignon. Consider using a red wine stock cube or stockpot as an alternative to the wine in this recipe.
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Penne a la vodka is quite the popular recipe at the moment, but you might want to avoid this during your pregnancy. Consider trying the recipe without vodka or experimenting with some other pasta recipes during your pregnancy.
There are all sorts of desserts that make use of alcohol. You might have a tiramisu with sponge fingers soaked in liqueur, or a chocolate cheesecake infused with Bailey’s, however, most recipes are easily altered to skip the alcohol.
If you’re unsure of the ingredients in a dessert, double-check the label or ask the server, and avoid anything that you’re not comfortable with.
How To Minimize Alcohol Consumption
If you’re using a recipe that includes alcohol, here are some tips for avoiding as much consumption as possible.
Slow cookers cook at a very low temperature, and if a slow-cooker recipe includes alcohol there isn’t enough of an opportunity for the alcohol to cook out. Try to make some changes and cook the recipe in the oven or on the stove to allow enough alcohol to cook out.
The time you add the alcohol to the recipe can affect the amount of alcohol left in the finished product. Try adding the alcohol at the beginning of the process to let the alcohol cook out properly, and ensure the taste isn’t as strong in the finished meal.
If you’re cooking a dish in the oven, you may want to place a loose lid over your dish. This creates more evaporation and will help to dilute the amount of alcohol in the dish. If you find that your sauce is a little thick once it has cooked, add some liquid back into the sauce.
Consider reducing the amount of alcohol in a dish if it is only added in for flavor. For example, if a recipe for braising calls for red wine, consider adding half the amount of wine and substituting beef stock.
Substitute the alcohol in your recipes if you are still feeling uneasy about consuming alcohol during your pregnancy.
Try switching alcohol for things like tomato juice, apple juice, or meat or vegetable stocks. Balsamic or apple cider vinegar is also great for adding some acidity as wine usually does.
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If you’re eating at a restaurant check with your server to check how your food was prepared, and how much alcohol was included in the recipe. Most restaurants will be able to make alterations to the preparations to avoid alcohol or recommend some great dishes that don’t include alcohol.
Can you have vodka sauce when pregnant?
No amount of alcohol is considered safe but it would also be very rare for babies to develop intoxication or developmental problems from their mother consuming such a sauce.
Does alcohol burn off when cooked?
It is true that an amount of the alcohol used in cooking burns off but it does depend on the cooking method being used.
The Final Thought
So, dependent on the cooking time and method, it is perfectly safe to eat food that contains alcohol. Most foods have only very small amounts of alcohol due to the way they have been prepared, so they pose no risk to you or your baby.
However, if you’re not keen on consuming alcohol during your pregnancy, there are plenty of alternatives that can be substituted in your recipes, and there are plenty of ways to avoid alcohol in your food.
And if you’re wondering whether or not you can eat some other foods, check out Can You Eat Cheesecake When Pregnant?