Maillard Reaction

This is a type of non-enzymatic browning reaction and is named after the chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. Maillard Reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring the addition of heat. I recently viewed a show on The Food Channel--Good Eats--which mentioned the reaction and so I did some research on it. The most crucial part--actually doing it has been tabled for right now--but I'll get to that eventually. I do procrastinate!

In truth, I've utilized Maillard Reactions many, many times but not while knowing what was happening. When you toast bread, or roast meat, or bake cookies you're using Maillard. In some of these you also caramelize the food but that comes later since it requires a higher heat.

The result of Maillard is new tastes and odors in the food. Some of the most subtle flavors are made this way--the food industry's artificial flavors are mostly obtained this way though once the substance is obtained via Maillard it can be analyzed and then made artificially in bulk. The characteristics of the flavor are largely due to the amino acids present and can vary extensively since there's so many combinations of amino acids possible. Not all of these are pleasant, of course, but professional chefs depend on Maillard to set their food apart from everyone elses.

As for me, I'll be happy just to play around with some variations on temperature and type of bread to see just how much of a difference these factors make. French toast is probably the first test for me...


Popular posts from this blog

ankles: the sequel

is my potato breathing?

Bread is Dangerous