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Freeze your beans and save your wooden cutting board
November 4, 2011 1:08 PM   Subscribe

In two parts, Lifehacker takes on popular food myths with some of the latest research: Wood cutting boards are no less safe than plastic; frozen coffee beans can taste great; the evidence of the health effects of artificial sweeteners remains somewhat unsettled; and alcohol doesn't really burn away in cooking.
posted by blahblahblah (69 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh well if Lifehacker took em on then IT'S ALL SETTLED!! Sweet. What do they have to say about whether glass is a liquid or not?
posted by spicynuts at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reposting snopes content isn't exactly hacking.
posted by srboisvert at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm convinced speaking English gives you heart disease
posted by The Whelk at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


The alcohol link pretty clearly states that most alcohol does in fact burn away in cooking.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:14 PM on November 4, 2011


You're right, Aizolari, if when you say "in cooking" you mean "in three hours of cooking."

From the article: you have to cook something for a good three hours to eradicate virtually all traces of alcohol.
posted by incessant at 1:20 PM on November 4, 2011


Reposting snopes content isn't exactly hacking.

The fact that it's not hacking makes it perfect for Lifehacker.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


The first and third examples lay out a spectrum from correct to just dumb, and I'll bet everything else they discuss lies in random distribution on that axis.

Wood cutting boards are made out of wood. Wood has evolved to resist and rebuff attacks by things that want to digest it. Plastic gives those critters a nice non-reactive playing field. This has been known for a long time.

But the third link about alcohol "burning off" is demented. "...alcohol evaporates at 172°F (78°C)..." As if just about every person has not felt the cooling sensation of alcohol evaporating on their skin at room temperature (70°F.)
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


*shakes tiny fist at spicynuts*
posted by blurker at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2011


Too many wiggle words. I need absolute answers, dammit!
posted by jabberjaw at 1:32 PM on November 4, 2011


The alcohol link pretty clearly states that most alcohol does in fact burn away in cooking.

The column heading is percent retained, not removed. I misread it the first time through and only realized when the number went down the longer the item was cooked.
posted by zippy at 1:36 PM on November 4, 2011


The first and third examples lay out a spectrum from correct to just dumb, and I'll bet everything else they discuss lies in random distribution on that axis.

I'll bet you could make a much stronger statement by actually reading the article before commenting on it.
posted by auto-correct at 1:45 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wait, I thought it was accepted wisdom that plastic cutting boards were a bad idea. Do people really think the plastic ones were better?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:48 PM on November 4, 2011


I use a plastic cutting board just because that's what we happen to pick up - are you saying I should switch to wood?
posted by exhilaration at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2011


Now, it may be that the amount of alcohol in a dish is modest to start with, but the fact that some of the alcohol remains could be of significant concern to recovering alcoholics, parents, and others who have ethical or religious reasons for avoiding alcohol.

I like how they put it last, as if though there isn't, you know, hundreds of millions of people who fall into this category. I've known folk cook with alcohol–based items on the express understanding that the alcohol was no longer present when they ate it. That's not a problem for the past—lack of knowledge mitigates it the moral problem—but knowing it could still be present is.
posted by Jehan at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2011


Even though it's far more a comment curator than creator, Lifehacker is one of the only two sites in the Gawker network (io9.com is the other) that I would NOT like to see nuked from orbit. And don't deny that among those 20 entries there isn't at least one that made you go "huh"? (as opposed to things that make you go "hmmm", which there may be one or two of too)
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:59 PM on November 4, 2011


I use a plastic cutting board just because that's what we happen to pick up - are you saying I should switch to wood?

I read a lot of techy\science cookbooks, I've never seen that plastic is bad. Plastic has the distinct advantage of being dishwasher safe. I use wood for veggies bread etc., and plastic for meat. I actually have different colored plastic ones, one for red meat, one for fish and chicken, and one for cooked meats.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:03 PM on November 4, 2011


I saw the artificial sweeteners thing and was ready to come in swinging but no, they're talking about cancer and not migraines. And here I am, all ready for internets fisticuffs.

sigh.
posted by elizardbits at 2:06 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe it was an old wives' tale now prooved by science, but I've been hearing for 10+ years that wood was safer than plastic -- and certainly, it's kinder to your knives than glass. (Not that I would use glass even if I hated my knives and wanted to punish them - the sound and feeling up your arm is worse than nails on a chalkboard).
posted by jb at 2:10 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gygesringtone, have you actually read the article?
It revealed that those using wooden cutting boards in their home kitchens were less than half as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (odds ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.22-0.81), those using synthetic (plastic or glass) cutting boards were about twice as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (O.R. 1.99, C.I. 1.03-3.85); and the effect of cleaning the board regularly after preparing meat on it was not statistically significant (O.R. 1.20, C.I. 0.54-2.68). We know of no similar research that has been done anywhere, so we regard it as the best epidemiological evidence available to date that wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.
posted by user92371 at 2:10 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"alcohol doesn't really burn away in cooking"

This makes me happy.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:16 PM on November 4, 2011


I'm shocked that the rate of contracting salmonella, especially from a household source, is high enough to conclude anything.
posted by smackfu at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the third link about alcohol "burning off" is demented. "...alcohol evaporates at 172°F (78°C)..." As if just about every person has not felt the cooling sensation of alcohol evaporating on their skin at room temperature (70°F.)
The most commonly used alcohol is ethanol, C2H5OH, with the ethane backbone. Ethanol has been produced and consumed by humans for millennia, in the form of fermented and distilled alcoholic beverages. It is a clear flammable liquid that boils at 78.4 °C, …
You can feel water evaporate off your skin at room temperature, but the boiling point of water (the temperature at which it evaporates) is still 100 degrees C, 212 F.
posted by kenko at 2:25 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was at a public safety meeting once where a public health doctor claimed that more sick days were lost to domestic food poisoning than anything else. There's no such thing as one-day flu, but mild food poisoning can last 36 hours.

Ever since, I've washed my hands before and after cooking and been careful those cutting boards.
posted by bonehead at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


User,

From the original source:

"Mechanical cleaning with a dishwashing machine can be done successfully with plastic surfaces (even if knife-scarred) and wooden boards especially made for this. "

To me, that's not "plastic cutting boards are bad" that's "plastic cutting boards have to be cleaned differently." Since the way to clean it is the way I prefer cleaning cutting boards, I would even go so far as to describe that as a feature.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


are you saying I should switch to wood?

Yes, you probably should. It's my understanding that plastic boards develop scratches very quickly, and these scratches fill with small food particles, which are an excellent place to grow bacteria. No amount of scrubbing will get down into the scratches... even liquids will usually not get to the bottoms of the cracks, because they don't have enough force to displace the air bubbles that are already there. Result: no matter what you do, you have a cutting board that's oozing out germs from hidden reservoirs that you can't get rid of.

Wood boards seem to kill off the bacteria; it may have something to do with the wood fibers wicking away the moisture that they need to live. This is just an educated guess; I'm not sure anyone has proven why, exactly, bacteria don't live well on wooden cutting boards. But we do know that, if you scrape off your cutting board when you're done, it won't retain very many microbes. There's always some, but a wooden board that's scraped off properly after every use will have far, far fewer bacteria on it than a plastic one.

I'm not sure about glass. I imagine that could be better still, since it doesn't scratch easily. But it's hard on your knives.
posted by Malor at 2:27 PM on November 4, 2011


My understanding on cutting boards is:

1) Glass -- easy to clean completely (buts most people don't bleach the hell out of their cutting boards), but hell on knife edges.

2) Plastic -- easy to clean completely (buts most people don't bleach the hell out of their cutting boards), however they don't chew up your knives. Also, you end up with tiny shreds of plastic in your food.

3) Wood -- much harder to clean completely, but most woods are mildly resistant to a variety of bacteria, very easy on knife edges.

So, basically, plastic is OK if a) you are willing to thoroughly clean your cutting boards and b) don't mind eating a bit of plastic.

I can't cite anything to support this, but I have heard it from a number of (half-forgotten) sources. I don't think this article particularly contradicts that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:28 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I disbelieve the alcohol clearance numbers. Here's why. At first the alcohol is coming off with explosive enthusiasm then suddenly it drops to a pretty consistent 1% of alcohol every four minutes or so. In real life there would be a gradual consistent fall off and it would be very dependent on the initial concentration of the alcohol plus the temperature, density and nature of whatever it is you're baking/simmering.

If you're in a religion that get's it's underwear in a twist over very minute levels of alcohol you're kind of screwed by the omnipresence of yeast.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I disbelieve the alcohol clearance numbers. Here's why. At first the alcohol is coming off with explosive enthusiasm then suddenly it drops to a pretty consistent 1% of alcohol every four minutes or so.

You've got to keep in mind that alcohol is also highly hydrophilic and there's likely a point in terms of concentration where it takes more and more energy to get it out of the surrounding water which means if the thermal energy put into the food is constant over time (leaving stove at same temperature) it's going to take longer and longer to reduce the amount of alcohol present.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2011


Am I the only one that still just uses a dinner plate as a cutting board?
posted by ian1977 at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


A bit more detail on the alcohol thing:

My understanding is that the hydroxyl group in alcohols promotes solution in water. If you reduce the ratio between alcohol and water then you have more water molecules available per alcohol molecule and the probability that alcohol molecules "shake free" and escape shrinks. More energy is needed in order to facilitate escape.
I imagine the higher boiling point of water means that not enough water evaporate to balance things out during the initial phase when alcohol concentration is higher. But I suspect that there's probably a point of concentration where evaporation rates equalize and concentration essentially becomes stable.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:46 PM on November 4, 2011


The evaporative mass-loss curve looks ok to me. It's similar to the one presented for alcohol sanitizing gels here (J Chem Ed, perhaps a paywall for most), for instance. In my experience, evaporative mass loss curves for simple solvents do tend to have a relationship that follows a natural logarithm, at least in the early stages: rapid loss followed by slow release over time.
posted by bonehead at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2011


Was the whole "alcohol doesn't burn off" thing really not known? I have a fairly pronounced alcohol sensitivity, so I'm always pretty aware when it's in something I eat or drink, but a little bit won't kill me, so it's never made bourbon sauce or cherries jubilee a problem. I've long known that boozy eats, even after they've been cooked, still contain alcohol. The amounts used are almost always low enough to be a non-issue, but it's definitely there. I'm just confused; am I the only one who already thought this?
posted by Diagonalize at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2011


They laughed at me when I bought that diamond cutting board, but I haven't had food poisoning since.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:49 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hands up, who else is tempted to use Fenton's reagent on their cutting boards?
posted by bonehead at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2011


Myth 3: Low Fat Foods Are Always Better For You

Seriously one of the most pernicious food myths. You get brainwashed when you see this everywhere in the grocery and ads. It took me forever to realize that "low fat" is often the enemy of healthy weight loss. Fats are satisfying and satiating and normal!
posted by naju at 3:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favorite food rule is this: "Vegetables taste delicious if you replace them with a juicy steak just prior to ingestion."
posted by sour cream at 3:21 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


People really use glass cutting boards?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:22 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: "So, basically, plastic is OK if a) you are willing to thoroughly clean your cutting boards and b) don't mind eating a bit of plastic."

This is wrong. It is plastic that is hard to clean. No matter how hard you scrub you are not getting to the bottom of all the little cuts in the plastic. Even a mechanical dishwasher does not clear them all. These gashes are bacterial breeding grounds. The wood is effectively self healing and antibacterial and does not have this problem.
posted by idiopath at 3:23 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


They laughed at me when I bought that diamond cutting board,

Minecraft has really changed..
posted by empath at 3:34 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even a mechanical dishwasher does not clear them all.

I know I'm going against the majority here, but it'd be really nice if people would at least acknowledge this little quote from the gentleman who's quoted in the article.

"Mechanical cleaning with a dishwashing machine can be done successfully with plastic surfaces (even if knife-scarred) and wooden boards especially made for this. "
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:37 PM on November 4, 2011


If I recall correctly, it was a high school girl's science project that first showed wooden cutting boards are safer. Up until then everybody assumed plastic was safer, and the USDA recommended them. The young scientist thought she had made some error, and went searching for the results that showed plastic was safer - there weren't any. Somebody at the USDA said at the time, "It was just common sense."

Anybody remember or can find who that girl was? This article really should have credited her.
posted by aturoff at 3:43 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alright, someone else may have addressed the alcohol thing upstream but as soon as I saw the, "but it evaporates on skin" vs "Takes three hours!" I knew what the problem was.

Alcohol and water have, separately, two different boiling points. When you mix them together you get a solution of x% alcohol in water with a boiling point different than the first two. Now its not quite an azeotrope until I guess the 1% mark and even then the alcohol is boiling away faster... just not nearly as fast as it was before.

Looking at 1% alcohol though, you probably get that just from old juice.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:15 PM on November 4, 2011


Maybe a lack of understanding of chemistry has led to my being sure that alcohol doesn't burn off, it seems logical that if I add hard liquor at 40% ABV, I need to reduce the liquid by a minimum volume of 40% to ensure the alcohol is gone. This just seems to be an incontrovertible fact to me. Has it not always been thus?

When you throw a shot in to a pan for a brief moment and take it off the heat, conventional wisdom says that it is removed, I've always thought that incorrect.

The flavour maybe integrated into the larger flavour profile, but the ethyl alcohol molecules are still present.
posted by Keith Talent at 4:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let me put it another way, according to their chart, if I dump a 200 mL of anhydrous ethanol into my minestrone at noon, at 12:15 there will be 80 mL left (a 60% clearance). So at 12:15 I will dump 80 mL of anhydrous ethanol into a second pot. According to their chart, 15 minutes later, pot 1 should will have lost another 10 mL while pot 2 will have gotten rid of 48 mL, despite the fact that 15 minutes ago they were the same.

Their graph should have looked more like an antibody binding curve or a capacitor charging curve and should have had elapsed time on one axis and starting and ending time on the other. Only that graph has a lot more moving pieces than most people would probably be comfortable with.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:23 PM on November 4, 2011


I thought that salt sped the boiling process, not because of the colligative properties of the solution (as the article seems to imply- though they get it backward) but because the salt gives the bubbles a place to nucleate. Was I wrong about that?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:25 PM on November 4, 2011


...it seems logical that if I add hard liquor at 40% ABV, I need to reduce the liquid by a minimum volume of 40% to ensure the alcohol is gone.

If your food is 40% ABV after you add whatever you're adding, then yes. If you're adding a small amount of 40% alcohol to a largish amount of food, that's about the same as adding half as much 80% ABV or twice as much 20% ABV, so no.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:34 PM on November 4, 2011


One food myth that I would like to bust right here: coriander is a good herb that can be put in dishes or used as a garnish. That is in fact wrong. It is a bad herb that cannot be used in anything.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Explain the chopping board thing to me. If people using wood chopping boards were half as likely to get salmonella, and people using plastic/glass chopping boards were double as likely as average... what were the average people chopping on, the floor? Or is average not chopping, just the food existing, what?
posted by Iteki at 4:50 PM on November 4, 2011


One of the more accidentally awesome foods I have made was a risotto, in a rice cooker with a lid, where at least part of the cooking liquid was wine.

The alcohol definitely doesn't burn off if it has nowhere to go.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:04 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who dumps straight bleach on the cutting board and lets it sit for thirty minutes or so, then rinses it off?

It seems like the bacteria would have a hard time living in the straight bleach environment, whether or not the cutting board is scarred like a knife fighter from a Borges story.
posted by winna at 5:38 PM on November 4, 2011


You soak chopping boards in bleach for half an hour? You may not be the only one who's done it winna, but you may be the only one who's still alive.
posted by joannemullen at 5:48 PM on November 4, 2011


winna: Am I the only one who dumps straight bleach on the cutting board and lets it sit for thirty minutes or so, then rinses it off?

Wow, really? That makes me feel very rock'n'roll. I guess I like to live dangerously... living on the edge of my probably plague infested old wooden cutting board...

I just rinse my wooden boards with hot water and (if meat was cut) some dish washing detergent. And I never use anti-bacterial soaps and detergents anyway out of principle.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:57 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought that salt sped the boiling process

Salt raises the boiling temperature of water. It will take longer to reach a boil, but the increased temperature may reduce the actual cooking time.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:02 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aizkolari: The alcohol link pretty clearly states that most alcohol does in fact burn away in cooking.


incessant: You're right, Aizolari, if when you say "in cooking" you mean "in three hours of cooking."

From the article: you have to cook something for a good three hours to eradicate virtually all traces of alcohol.


Only if by "most" you mean "virtually all traces", instead of the more commonly used definition of ">50%", incessant.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:06 PM on November 4, 2011


thsmchnekllsfascists: People really use glass cutting boards?

There are no glass cutting boards, but there are people who use pastry boards as cutting boards because they don't know any better. And there are companies that market pastry boards as cutting boards because those same people will buy them.

(The same holds for marble.)
posted by mendel at 6:18 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to their chart, 15 minutes later, pot 1 should will have lost another 10 mL while pot 2 will have gotten rid of 48 mL, despite the fact that 15 minutes ago they were the same.

You are not accounting for alcohol concentration in the pot.

It's governed by Raoult's law to first order, partial pressures are determined by the concentration in the liquid phase. Concentration is really fugacity, of course, and there are liquid diffusive and gas saturation terms too, but that curve is reasonably credible as a rough measure of mass loss.

I ve seen sharper curves. Pentane for example, evaporates more quickly.
posted by bonehead at 6:35 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't loiter about sniffing the fumes, and I guess it's possible that somehow we have weaker bleach here in the US than other places, but if splashing a half-cup of bleach on the cutting board and swishing it around the surface with a paper towel makes me a swashbuckler, then I shall buckle my swash!
posted by winna at 6:42 PM on November 4, 2011


bonehead: "Hands up, who else is tempted to use Fenton's reagent on their cutting boards?"

Well, I use this. Seriously. Not quite Fenton's, but it is an oxidizing sanitizer. I buy it by the five-gallon bucket and am getting pretty darn good at diluting to 150 ppm by smell. Bleach is for chumps.

This is a factual statement. I am not even exaggerating. My wife still insists on plastic cutting boards though.
posted by stet at 7:17 PM on November 4, 2011


Wood cuttings boards = lignin --> lignin has antimicrobial properties (warning: author has funny name)

Like that you can throw plastic cutting boards into the dishwasher (many people don't have high-temperature dishwashers), you can soak wooden cuttings boards in 10% bleach for a handful/a couple-tens-of-minutes. Washing well with soap and hot water removes any bleach residue. Also, microbes that are pathological to wood (when left moist, wooden cutting boards can get dark spots/growths) tend to be completely harmless to mammals (including humans) whereas microbes that feed on food residue can be harmful to mammals.

If you like the form factor/weight of plastic cutting boards, I've seen bamboo ones that have the same feel but made from, well, wood. ish.
posted by porpoise at 8:12 PM on November 4, 2011


You can feel water evaporate off your skin at room temperature, but the boiling point of water (the temperature at which it evaporates) is still 100 degrees C, 212 F.
posted by kenko


So when they say "evaporate" they actually mean "boil"?
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:23 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


[M]ost fish used for sushi in restaurants around the world are farmed to avoid the problems with parasites in wild fish. "Fish like tuna are not particularly susceptible to parasites because they dwell in very deep and cold waters. Sushi restaurants typically use farmed salmon to avoid the parasite problems wild salmon have," he explains.

Oh, man, this is just flat-out wrong. Parasites in wild populations are low, since predation tends to take care of the sickly. On the other hand, salmon farms are, literally, a breeding ground for sea lice. In British Columbia, they are now seeing infection in wild stocks that originate at the farms. It tends to just kill off the wild fish.

Sushi restaurants use farmed fish because it's cheaper.
posted by looli at 9:36 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


So when they say "evaporate" they actually mean "boil"?

Kinda sorta. Evaporation (such as liquid on the surface of your skin) is like a single fast-moving molecule "boiling*" and flying off on its own. True boiling is when the entire batch of liquid becomes hot enough so that all the molecules are bouncing around fast enough to break the tension holding them together.

*if one defines boiling as "a liquid molecule moving fast enough to break the tensile bond of said liquid
posted by ShutterBun at 9:36 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the article:

alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat

They seem to have done that in the wrong order - alcohol to deglaze, and then water/other liquid is added and brought up to the correct temp (assuming that they're braising). What's the percent alcohol remaining then?
posted by combinatorial explosion at 10:10 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are not accounting for alcohol concentration in the pot.

I've seen sharper curves. Pentane for example, evaporates more quickly.


I'm just assuming their chart is correct, and it's not the sharpness of the curve that bothers me so much as where the shoulder is located.

Assuming this isn't the finest graphite data, I'd guess that they're starting concentration is about one percent so that, after 60% clearance, the amount of alcohol remaining is trivial. That they're not talking about concentration, just percent, is the problem.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:10 AM on November 5, 2011


I think that a lot of cooks are getting confused by the fact that wine, like most flavorings, takes a while to merge with the rest of the food. When it's added initially you get a huge acid-tannin-alcohol hit, but this gradually softens and becomes part of the combined taste. I can see how someone might think that this is because the alcohol "boils off", but it's really just part of the magic of kitchen chemistry.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:11 AM on November 5, 2011


Has anyone ever gotten even a buzz off of say, a vodka or wine sauce by eating the item that is flavored with that sauce? It doesn't really matter what proportion remains after cooking if the amount actually eaten by one person is below the threshold for raising BAC significantly.

Desserts where you can taste the alcohol may be a different matter (again, I've never heard of anyone becoming intoxicated this way but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen) but although recovering people can be very scrupulous about trying to avoid even the tiniest hint, if they actually relapse as a result of this, it's basically a nocebo effect and would be similar to relapsing because they smelled the scent of beer. In other words, the tiniest hint of a taste of alcohol doesn't eliminate free will, even for the hardest core alcoholics.

In fact, if a dish with some significant trace of alcohol were served and that trace were disguised so that the recovering person did not know it was there and it was not enough to raise blood alcohol enough to produce an intoxicating effect, the person wouldn't even get a craving. They would be unaware that they *should* be getting one and craving cued by "the first drink" requires consciousness of having ingested the alcohol.
posted by Maias at 12:57 PM on November 5, 2011


My mom makes rum balls at the holidays, along with various other types of cookies. (Link is not her exact recipe... but close enough for the purposes of this post.) Note that you don't bake the rum balls before serving them.

Then she gives them away to people, in the Spirit Of The Season.

Every few years we hear that somebody's child got drunk from eating them. But maybe this only works for kids, who can't hold their liquor.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:10 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That they're not talking about concentration, just percent, is the problem.

They are talking about concentration: the remaining concentration is just expressed as a fraction of the initial. It's relative concentration, but still concentration.

Looking back at the original data (in the alcohol link above), we're arguing over 5 points (I only count the stirred in/baked points), not really enough to account for detailed discussion of curve shapes. This is complicated by the fact that ethanol is strongly non-ideal, though non-ideal effects are lessened for dilute mixtures. However, there are going to be influences from diffusion and surface effects in the sauce, and finally, unknown boundary-layer limits on evaporation by air saturation in the enclosed pot. There are too many variables here to really nail this down quantitatively. For all that, this curve looks like the ones I see from my rotovap and pan evaporation work for similarly complex mixtures.
posted by bonehead at 2:14 PM on November 5, 2011


The freezing coffee article was pretty surprising to me - and I was astounded that it was a fairly deep article based on science... just not what I expected from lifehacker, but there you go. Good find.
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 2:38 PM on November 5, 2011


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