# Does pressure cooking preserve alcohol?

I use my pressure cooker a lot and for one recipe I'm practically bathing a few pork loins in white wine. I know that pressure cooking only reduces liquid by less than five percent, and I know that cooking only reduces alcohol by evaporation not breaking down of molecules (or at least I think so). So does pressure cooking only reduce alcohol content by ~5% (since the stuff that evaporates will probably be mostly alcohol? Or will the alcohol content in the steam be much higher? Even in that case, if I let it sit before releasing pressure, most of the steam will turn back into liquid.

Basically, can I add "helps get you tipsy" to the list of my InstantPot's many features?

• The added pressure won't change things very much. I'm sure if you search (here or elsewhere) for "boil off alcohol" you'll get a decent explanation but briefly you can't get rid of it completely and to get rid of very much takes quite some time. So you'll have quite an alcoholic sauce at the end. [comment replaced as typo changed meaning] – Chris H Mar 8 '16 at 16:31

Since a pressure cooker does not release any vapors, all of the alcohol will remain in the pot until you open the lid. In fact, even when cooking in an open pot, a large amount of alcohol will remain in your liquid(Wikipedia:Cooking_with_alcohol). While it is true that alcohol has a lower boiling point than water in their pure forms, a mixture of water and ethanol will boil together, with both water and alcohol vaporizing. Wikipedia: Raoult's Law

Assuming your pressure cooker doesn't vent a ton of vapor, this should work. In that case, all you're losing is the vapor that's inside the cooker when you open it.

It is true that the vapor will contain a higher concentration of alcohol than the liquid, e.g. 5% alcohol liquid might produce 25-35% alcohol vapor. (I had a little trouble finding exact numbers for the elevated pressure, but I don't think precision is necessary here.) But the vapor itself is only going to be in the ballpark of a gram per liter. So depending on the amount of open space in the pressure cooker, you might lose a few grams of an alcohol-water vapor mixture, at worst equivalent to losing a few mL of 80-proof liquor. I assume that's small compared to the amount you're putting in.

On the other hand if it vents significant vapor, the loss could approach the same ballpark as the usual loss from boiling. I'm not sure how to estimate the vapor released from a pressure cooker, but this does mean you could potentially lose upwards of half of it depending on how long you cook.

The boiling point of alcohol is 173°F - your pressure cooker will reach temperatures of up to 240-250°F.

My husband is in the "sensor" business and he equipped my kitchen with a gas detector. I often pressure cook risotto with 1/4 cup of wine and when I release pressure the alarm goes off signifying a large concentration of ethanol in the air.

In fact, pressure cookers are used to distill alcohol at temperatures lower than pressure cooking.

I did some research of Scientific Journal Articles and did not find any specific studies that measured exactly HOW MUCH alcohol is evaporated during pressure cooking - but my educated guess says is that it's quite a bit!

• The boiling point of alcohol isn't really that relevant here. The alcohol and water boil together, and the resulting vapor will have a higher concentration of alcohol than the liquid, sure. But what matters is how much alcohol is actually in that not-very-dense vapor. – Cascabel Mar 8 '16 at 6:04
• When you open the vent though, you're releasing quite a lot of alcohol vapour all in one go (as well as water vapour). This could easily be enough to set off a gas detector even if releasing the same amount of vapour slowly from an open simmer wouldn't. – Chris H Mar 8 '16 at 16:31
• Boiling point varies by pressure, also... that's how the pressure cooker gets to 240-250, anyway. – Joe M Mar 10 '16 at 21:28