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alcohol in food - safe for children?

are dishes that call for alcohol in the ingredients (penne alla vodka for example) safe for children under age 10 to eat? this might be an obvious question since i know the alcohol cooks down but i'm just curious.


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  1. Most (not all though) of the alcohol will cook off (it has a lower boiling point than water). There will be a very small amount left. Since a recipe like Vodka sauce doesn't call for all that much vodka in the first place (1/3 - 1/2 cup) and since one person is only consuming a single serving of the entire dish, I would have absolutely no qualms about serving it to a 10 year old. Or a 4 year old for that matter.

    1. Agree with bnemes above, of course assuming we are talking about an occasional thing, not a regular diet of vodka sauce or rum cake. The amount of alcohol that remains depends on the cooking method, the length of time the food cooks or simmers after the alcohol is added, and what type of alcoholic beverage was added in the first place.

      Red wine doesn't have a whole lot of alcohol to start with, and it cooks for a long time so beef bourguignon is hardly going to have any alcohol remaining, even though you used a lot of wine to start with. On the other hand, a dish where hard liquor was added just before the dish was plated is going to have a lot more. Even flambes have some alcohol remaining when served.

      1. http://homecooking.about.com/od/alcoh...

        Informative chart, it gives a chart of the percentage of alcohol left after cooking for periods of time. It is hard too but hard alcohol, or wine, how much per serving, how long cooked.

        Personally, I don't mind. I think the small amount per the number of servings is very very low. But that is just opinion. I use it all the time ... but respect those who don't want to use it with kids. If you really look at portion size and how much a small child eats and how much the sauce has cooked. I don't find it harmful. And I wouldn't do it on a regular basis. The vodka sauce I makes simmers, very small amounts for a lot of sauce. But again, take a look at the web page, interesting info.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kchurchill5

          very useful chart
          thanks to all for the replies

        2. another voice here.

          I wouldn't serve anything with alcohol in it to children. period.

          2 Replies
          1. re: laliz

            As I mentioned, I respect that, but personally no problem with it especially when I cook the sauce for a fair amount of time. I certainly wouldn't serve a dish where the alcohol was just added or a garnish, but a sauce that has cooked I don't have a problem. And certainly don't do it often. My friend has a 9 year old and he loves my winter pasta. Scallops, asparagus, champagne cream sauce and pasta. The amount of sauce is so little and the amount of champagne is 8 servings so it didn't bother me or his parents but. Respect your opinion.

            1. I definitely figure this is a parental choice issue. If I was doing something like penne alla vodka, I'd check with the parents and see if they wanted an alternate sauce or plain pasta (depending on the age of the kids). For something like a cupcake with alcohol in the icing or filling, I just make a couple alcohol-free versions before adding the booze, so anyone can choose to have them.

              1. I wouldn't have a problem with serving my daughter or other kids somethingl ike penne a la vodka. A rum-soaked cake with a boozy flavor is not something any kid I know would like anyway.

                2 Replies
                1. re: NYCkaren

                  I agree, different cooking in sauces or roasts where it cooks a while and many other flavors involved. Although my son loves my rum cake, even when he was little, but ... he wasn't allowed to eat that. But sauces or stews etc to me is a bit different. But I usually check as well if serving to other kids.

                  1. re: NYCkaren

                    I don't know; my wife regularly makes a butter cake, and then melts some butter in rum, pokes holes in the cake with a skewer, and soaks the cake with the mix. My kids and all their friends (and their teachers!) love it.

                  2. liver function doesn't improve with age.

                    1. I have a small child and he eats things like this all the time. It's absolutely fine with me, and as Jfood suggests, I intentionally expose my kid to alcohol to demystify it and to destroy that "forbidden" quality that goes hand-in-hand with alcohol abuse. Well, that, and also because I'm certainly not going to eat my penne alla vodka or what-have-you in the closet!

                      While I respect Laliz's opnion and would not serve food with alcohol in it to a child whose parent who held those views, my respect for that opinion is more like the respect I have for religions I don't share. As in... there's a social disconnect and, I suspect, a scientific one as well. My experience is that sometimes people who have been exposed to (or experienced, whichever) ugly substance abuse issues take those issues and map them out onto normal society and normal, healthy social drinking. I believe this mis-attribution can be unconscious or a result of emotional baggage from the tragic experiences associated with substance abuse...

                      ... and as with religion, I don't disrespect ANYONE'S experience with substance abuse issues. Ever. That is some profound stuff, and if it makes you want to keep your kid away from anything remotely boozy, I can only say I'm sure it comes from kind intentions and wish all the best. Not saying that pertains to anyone in this thread, but just as we need to defer to the prohibition people in a program impose on themselves, I have total and complete deference for people's decision to impose it on their kids.

                      1. It's perfectly safe. It's only a travesty if we make it one. I think teaching a kid that alcohol is just another ingredient is a decidedly good thing.

                        1. Of course it's safe... Things made with wine are perfectly safe for children, especially if they're cooked. it's just spirits you should be wary of because they're so much stronger, and kids probably won't enjoy the taste of them anyway. But you never know - we always made an alcohol-free 'kiddy' hardsauce and a highly alcoholic adult version for christmas, and more than once we'd turn around and find one of the little kiddies digging into the wrong one and asking for more. lol

                          1. I would have no problem serving dishes that use alcohol as an ingredient to kids. My parents never worried about it-hell, they used to let me drink/eat all those little chocolate bottles of liqueur at Christmas parties!! (I probably wouldn't allow that though!) I don't think people worried as much back then.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: schrutefarms

                              And by "back then", it was the '80's. We didn't wear seat belts, either.

                            2. It's only safe so long as there is enough to insure they go to sleep.

                              Little of the alkeyhol cooks off, really. 80% to 90% remains in the dish, even after setting it ablaze.

                              If you don't want alcohol in the kids food, don't cook with it.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Demented

                                Speaking of putting kids to sleep -- my mother in law loves telling me about French parents giving their babies brandy-soaked sugar cubes to keep them quiet in church. Not something I would do -- I mean go to church, of course.

                                1. re: Glencora

                                  Brandy soaked ginger snaps my grandma used to give my mom. I'm sure I had a few