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I've never roasted a turkey before today. I had an emergency with a freezer thaw and had to cook a turkey in a hurry.

It had been in the freezer a bit and I was concerned that it would be dry. Having heard this before, I took a small bowl and poured in some beer, then mixed some rosemary, lemon, and garlic and placed this in the cavity to keep it moist. I then put it in a plastic bag.

After baking the turkey for three hours on 350 in my convection oven, I pulled it out and the bowl had nearly as much liquid as it did when I stared. (The turkey turned out well and we fed several friends).

So my question is, if the beer was in the oven at 350 for hours, and water boils at 212 and alcohol about 180, why didn't the beer all evaporate into the bag?

  • Just to make sure I understood you correctly: You roasted the bird with the bowl in the belly? Did the rim touch the meat? Did you somehow "close" the cavity? – Stephie Oct 17 '16 at 3:54
  • Welcome to Seasoned Advice btw.! – Stephie Oct 17 '16 at 3:55
  • @Stephie placed the bowl in the cavity, yes. The rim was below the meat. – Thom Oct 17 '16 at 12:04
  • on a separate note, the whole "beer in turkey" thing is a myth. – rumtscho Oct 17 '16 at 17:39
  • @rumtscho How do you mean? – Thom Oct 17 '16 at 18:08
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Beer is about 95% water, so it's not that important to worry about the alcohol's boiling point— you can pretty much say that the beer will boil at 100ºC and ignore the alcohol. An oven is an enclosed space, and when you're cooking stuff with water in it (i.e. most foods) the relative humidity of the oven quickly reaches 100%, which means the air can hold no more water vapor. At that point, while the beer may be evaporating slightly, it condenses back into the bowl.

Note that when you open the oven, the beer may start bubbling and boiling as the drier air from the room rushes in, allowing more liquid to evaporate.

  • Did you miss the bit about OP cooking the bird in a bag? – Stephie Oct 17 '16 at 3:50
  • @Stephie The bag would only make what Margalo said more true as it produced a smaller environment. – Thom Oct 17 '16 at 12:04
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When you set an oven to 350 F, it warms the air, outside of anything being baked, to somewhere between 250 and 450 F (yes, ovens are that variable). The temperature needs a lot of time to get inside of the food. The reason why you have to roast a large roast for hours is that it needs hours to reach the needed temperature (about 135 F) by conduction through the meat.

If the cavity was open but shielded from the direct radiation, it is possible that the cavity got hotter than that, but not too much and not too early. A bird's cavity just doesn't have much of an airflow. And then, the bag shielded the air around the bowl from the air inside the cavity.

The bowl was warm, and something evaporated for sure, but I doubt it was boiling much at any point.

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