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I would like to remove the alcohol, or as much as is reasonable, from maple extract. I plan to use this for flavoring cold foods, and don't want the alcohol taste. I have thought to do this by heating at a low temperature over a given amount of time. I searched on this, but I don't find anything regarding maple exclusively. Most of what I find is regarding vanilla, for which people say that doing this will remove the vanilla as well.

Is it possible to remove the alcohol by slow heating without removing the maple flavoring?

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  • Related: cooking.stackexchange.com/q/659/67
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 21 at 17:13
  • Did you make this extract yourself or buy it? If you bought it, what's the product? If you made it; what's the recipe? And is it a genuine extract or a flavouring, because the relevant maple flavours are water soluble? It is possible that these compounds are also soluble in ethanol, unlike sugars, so an alcohol-based extract might be a way to make it much lower in sugar
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 22 at 12:46
  • It looks like maple syrup has no ethanol content; how have you determined that there is ethanol in the product you're using? Commented Apr 22 at 16:57
  • could you just use a maple extract without added alcohol? amazon.com/Frontier-Co-op-Flavor-Non-Alcoholic-bottle/dp/… Commented Apr 23 at 7:26
  • @AlanBirtles Thanks, I looked at that along with several other non-alcoholic flavorings before deciding to do this. If you read the bottle, it says "with other natural flavorings". Everything I've found along this line is either, not pure maple, contains added sugars, or contain propylene glycol (YUCK!) I suppose I could give the one you linked a try and just see how I like it...
    – KevinHJ
    Commented Apr 23 at 13:08

4 Answers 4

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Actual maple flavor, as found in maple syrup and sugar, is the result of boiling maple sap for periods ranging from hours to days. Temperature ranges from 219°F (7°F over boiling, if at elevation) for syrup (starting at water boiling temperatures with fresh sap) to the high 230's for sugar.

I have no idea what's in maple extract, if it's purportedly real or not, etc. If it is purportedly real, you could presumably boil off the alcohol with no effect on the flavor, considering the above method of getting it in the first place. If it's artificial, I have no idea as I never use fake maple.

I've never bought maple extract; I put maple syrup (the darker the better) in whatever it is I want maple flavored. That is what I'd actually recommend doing for an alcohol free maple flavoring.

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    Thank you. The stuff I am getting claims to be a natural extract (from real maple syrup - amazon.com/gp/product/B0002PHEDO). I have been using a very dark grade "B" maple syrup, but I use a lot and it gets expensive, but mostly I don't want all the sugar. So I want to experiment with the extract. I use it for yogurt mostly.
    – KevinHJ
    Commented Apr 21 at 21:56
  • This sounds promising, as the boiling point of ethanol is around 173º F, so I would expect I don't have to actually bring it to H2O boiling to evaporate the alcohol. I suspect I could heat it for a long period of time at a lower temp.
    – KevinHJ
    Commented Apr 21 at 22:01
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Actually, I discovered quite by accident that the simplest way to do this is to simply let the alcohol/water evaporate in open air. I placed a little bit of extract, maybe about 1-2 teaspoons in a tin with a flat bottom. This allowed the extract to spread out with a depth of about 1/4 inch. Simply leaving it setting out on the counter on a warm day for a day or so allowed it to reduce down to a goo. I then reconstituted it with water, and used a dropper to apply. Very simple, requires no special setup, and no risk of altering the properties of the maple by heating. One could also use a larger tin to process more extract while keeping it spread out and the depth at a 1/4 inch.

The next time I will set the tin on my gas stove top above where the burner pilot light burns underneath, which gets quite warm to the touch, and it should evaporate more quickly.

One thing I will note regarding using the extract versus maple syrup, is that I don't think it is especially economical as I was hoping to achieve. In fact, to get the same degree of flavor, it seems it might even cost more to use the extract. However, the extract does avoid the sugar.

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  • Not surprising that it costs more to use - there's an additional processing step in there, which will have associated costs.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 3 at 15:54
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If you don't want to risk changing the flavor by heating it all: underpressure or sudden drop of pressure would also reduce the alcohol content (by evaporating it).

With regular at-home equipment I don't know how significant this reduction would be but some can definitely be extracted by increasing the pressure (for example by using a regular basketball-pump through a cork) and then quickly dropping it (aka removing the cork). This will gasify a noticeable portion of the alcohol (blow it out otf the bottle with a straw afterwards). [This works best for high-proof base alcohols so I don't know whether this will allow you to get close to zero]

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    I’m not sure what the point of this would be. If you expect the maple flavor to boil off with the alcohol when heated at ambient pressure, would you not also expect it to boil off at low pressure?
    – Sneftel
    Commented Apr 22 at 7:48
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    @Sneftel I somewhat expected the aromatics to denature under heat rather than to boil off (aka vaporize). Those are two different ways we can loose flavor and my approach would negate the denaturization. Whether that is actually relevant for maple extract is beyond my knowledge (and going by Ecnerwal's answer potentially not that relevant). I just wanted to propose a more "careful" alternative to heating.
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Apr 22 at 7:53
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    @Sneftel going off several articles on alcohol free beer your worries of also vaporizing (some of) the aromatics as well seems to be a valid concern, as several breweries mention filtering these aromatics from the vaporized alcohol to return them to the beer. But you'd have at least the same loss with just boiling it all so my approach at least isn't worse
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Apr 22 at 7:55
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    This is a very good suggestion, I should have thought of that. There are a variety of DIY vacuum chambers on youtube. And if one is serious, there are several nice vacuum chambers on Amazon, around $150 w/pump, $80 without. Fortunately I have a neighbor who has one :-)
    – KevinHJ
    Commented Apr 22 at 13:34
  • @KevinHJ ah nice, that's way better than my janky suggestion of overpressure that is then dropped quickly. Btw maybe read into non-alcoholic beer for a better explanation at which/how much aromatics you would be loosing, which kinds of alcohol evaporate when etc. I only know that it could work, but there are tons of details ans specifics available (if you want to go down the rabbithole)
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Apr 23 at 12:26
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I suggest letting it sit in an open bowl or tray away from any flame. I would not set it on a stove with a pilot light. Real maple extract is high in alcohol, upwards of 40 percent by some accounts. One major brand with a red and white label (and box) lists alcohol as the first ingredient and warns of dispensing near open flame. I can definitely smell and taste the alcohol in that product.

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