A common concern for people in recovery and their families is whether or not it’s okay to eat foods that have been cooked using alcohol, whether it’s a pasta sauce made with white wine, a rum cake for dessert, or even beer battered fried foods.
Since a single drop of alcohol, for an alcoholic in recovery, can be a problem – this is an important topic to discuss.
Did you know that even certain types of vanilla extra can have some alcohol in them?
Alcohol is more common than you might guess, in a lot of different foods.
People will tell you that the alcohol cooks off in the process of preparing the food, and while this is true to a certain extent, it requires a longer cooking time to get most of the alcohol out, and according to a paper by the USDA, a certain amount of alcohol will remain in the food. For instance, if you’re making a sauce and you have stirred alcohol into it, even after 2.5 hours of cooking, 5% of the alcohol will still remain. Whether you’re boiling it, baking it, or using flames to cook will also have an impact on how much alcohol will cook out of your food or dessert.
So, whether you’re making beer batter or something else, please be aware that it’s likely for some small portion of the alcohol to remain. Individuals in recovery may vary as to whether or not this will be a trigger for them, but it’s always a good idea to avoid foods that are heavily based on alcoholic drinks, and that still taste strongly of alcohol (such as rum cake).
Beer Battered Foods for Alcoholics?
Whether it’s a beer-battered fish, chicken, or any number of other foods that are battered using beer and then fried, it really comes down to the individual. Beer battered foods don’t taste terribly strongly of beer, the salt, the food itself, and the flour tend to reduce that, so you probably won’t bite into something made with beer batter and instantly think of the taste of beer, not as much as certain other recipes that require alcohol, anyways.
Simply having the taste of beer in your mouth also isn’t a problem for many alcoholics, since they’ll drink non-alcohol beer, but for some – the taste or smell of beer can be a trigger to drink.
But for some alcoholics, even just knowing that there’s beer in the food can be bad news.
See also: How to avoid drinking at a summer BBQ.
Is It Okay To Serve Beer Battered Food for an Alcoholic?
If you’re cooking dinner and you know an alcoholic will be attending, or you suspect someone may have a substance problem with alcohol, then you may decide to make certain accommodations like not serving alcohol with the meal, but what about foods made with beer batter?
Well, the best thing to do is to talk to them and ask them if they’re okay with beer batter or if they’d prefer a different recipe – or simply just play it safe, don’t put them on the spot, and don’t serve beer-battered foods – there are enough alternative recipes that don’t include beer. It can be difficult coping with an alcoholic child, partner, friend, family member… but you can do it. Sometimes, small changes can help them a great deal.
If you’re making beer battered foods, the deep frying process should take care of the vast majority of the alcohol in the beer, so this will have a lot less alcohol in it than things like a rum cake, or a sauce that’s made primarily with vine.
The Final Answer: Beer Battered Foods for Alcoholics, Yes or No?
To sum it all up, it depends on the person.
The actual amount of alcohol from the beer that sticks around in the final food when it’s ready to serve will be miniscule, but it might not necessarily be 0%. Beer already has a relatively low alcohol content, and then you’re cooking a lot of it off in the deep frying, just to keep a bit of the flavor.
If they’re comfortable with you, you may be able to have an open conversation about what you can do to help them. If they haven’t acknowledged their alcoholism yet, or you suspect you have a friend or someone you care about who is trying to cut back, then you may want to just avoid any foods containing alcohol in the first place, just in case. This will allow you to avoid the potential trigger for them, without putting them on the spot to talk about something they’re not exactly comfortable talking about yet.
When it comes to what alcoholics themselves think about this, it can vary – which is why our advice is to adjust your plants based on who you’re cooking for. In an old post on an AA forum, many of the people who replied were concerned about cooking foods that contain alcohol, or at least curious about it, but their tolerence levels varied a lot. Some don’t want the chance of having even a single drop of a low % alcohol drink in their food, others were okay with it, and confident it wouldn’t make them want to drink.
You can think of an alcohol as somebody who is, essentially, allergic to alcohol and you wouldn’t put peanuts in a recipe for someone who had a nut allergy, right?