When you think of alcohol, you might picture frosted glass holding a cold martini or a Blonde IPA on tap. With these inviting images it's easy to forget that alcohol comes in many, many forms. It's used as an additive to beauty products, cleaning supplies, and especially the foods we eat. If you're trying to avoid alcohol for health reasons such as pregnancy or recovery, it's important to be mindful of not only beverages, but foods that contain alcohol as well.
Meat and Pastas
Many meat and pasta sauces contain alcohol. This can include glazes for meats, such as a whiskey-based chicken glaze or port wine reduction sauces that commonly accompany pork, beef or pasta dishes. Because alcohol helps tenderize meat, it's often used as an ingredient in marinades. Other popular dishes containing alcohol are: chicken or sirloin marsala, chicken piccata, and various risottos.
Vanilla extract,a popular additive in many desserts, contains alcohol. Vanilla extract is also included in savory dishes such as chili or meat marinade. While the alcohol usually drops to very low levels when cooked, a trace amount is still present. If you are seriously avoiding alcohol, avoid foods in which vanilla extract has been used.
Liqueur Filled Candies
Liqueur-filled candies are a popular chocolate treat, where alcohol serves as filling and is not cooked off. Government guidelines require that these candies carry a warning label denoting their alcohol content. Be sure to read packaging on candies to ensure they don’t contain alcohol.
Some foods use alcohol for aesthetic purposes. Restaurants may put on a show by briefly lighting dishes on fire with alcohol. This is an exciting display, and also gives the food added crisp. Desserts such as Bananas Foster, meat dishes like Steak Diane, and ethnic dishes such as fajitas are popular fired up foods. In these cases, the alcohol slowly burns away, but even after the flame has died, it’s important to know that the food still contains alcohol.
Beer is used in a number of different foods, including soups, stews, and even bread. Usually food prepared with beer will state it clearly in the title: beer bread or Guinness Stew are common ones. If you're unsure, check with the waiter or chef. Beer is also used in grilling, by pouring it over the grill while the food is cooking. As a result, alcohol may be present in the final product.
Amy Davidson is a graduate from the University of Florida in Gainesville, with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She also writes for local papers around Gainesville doing articles on local events and news.