Neutral alcohol serves three important culinary purposes:
- Alcohol brings out the flavours in food. Because alcohol molecules evaporate rapidly, they carry the aromas of the overall dish straight to the nose, enhancing our overall enjoyment of the food. This is an exciting quality when we consider the current trend for making culinary experiences ‘multi-sensory’! This ‘volatility effect’ works best with a low dose of alcohol – less than 5% of a ganache filling, for example, which is why culinary alcohols are so economical to use; a little goes a very long way.
- Alcohol has the remarkable ability to be able to bond with both fat and water molecules. Food consists mainly of water, and our nose only responds to molecules that are fat-soluble, so alcohol is very special because it is able to bridge the gap between the two. If you have ever had a cold you will understand that a great deal of a food’s taste comes from being able to smell it, too! This is why alcohol is so good at bringing out and enhancing even the most subtle flavours in food, and why it works so well with chocolate.
- Lastly, alcohol can improve the shelf life of your product. This is a very valuable quality, especially at busy times such as Christmas, when you may need to make products earlier and in larger quantities in order to meet demand.