THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE SPLASH

Cooking with alcohol is as much about how it tastes as it is about what it does in the pan. When used properly alcohol adds a rich and warming depth of flavour to food. This happens through two processes, evaporation and molecular bonding.

EVAPORATION

Alcohol molecules are incredibly volatile, so they evaporate very quickly, allowing the subtle aromas to hit our nostrils instantly which in turn enhances our overall perception of flavour. This ‘volatility effect’ works best when a dish has a lower alcohol concentration, like with some of the products in the JustA Splash range. Others in the range, like Rum and Brandy, have a slightly higher ABV ideal for flambéing.

MOLECULAR BONDING

A simple splash of a spirit will naturally intensify the flavours of a finished dish by bonding with both the fat and water molecules, bridging the gap between the two.

This is important because our aroma receptors respond only to molecules dissolved in fat, whilst food is primarily water. Alcohol, therefore, makes it easier for your aroma receptors to absorb the flavours of food. In a marinade, the alcohol would bond with aromatics like garlic and herbs that dissolve in fat, and help absorb the flavours into the meat. It also helps to tenderise the meat itself.

REDUCTION SAUCES

By deglazing a pan with a spirit or fortified wine, the absorption of flavour into the browned proteins is more intense than if it were to be deglazed with stock or juice.

COOKING OFF THE ALCOHOL

Alcohol is only truly cooked off when it has met several criteria during the cooking process, such as duration of cooking, heat intensity, the amount and ABV of the alcohol, standing time, and even the size and shape of the cookware. If you want to flambé, you’ll need a higher alcohol concentration, so it’s important not to cook it off before you set the dish alight.