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Maillard Reaction

Did you know that seared steak, bread crust, French fries and more are coming from the same exact chemical reaction? It is called the Maillard Reaction, you can read more about it on Wikipedia. It is one of the two Nonenzymatic browning, the second is the caramelization. There also are other Food Browning that may be worth a read if you are interested in the subject.

Back to the Maillard Reaction, the basic point is that amino acids and reducing sugar gets combined. Most of the time, heat is what triggers the reaction, but it can also happen without it in various cases, the more sugar and amino acids the lower the temperature required is.

One thing is for sure, in the case of meat, you will need far more than what can be achieved by water, that’s why boiled meat won’t get brown, and taste different. That is why some recipes will require you to fry meat before adding them to the stock.

Want to give it a try for yourself? You can follow the steps of this experience, it is worth a try!

Interesting for Malt lovers, this reaction is also used to prepare the malt used in whiskey and beers, that is what gives it its color. There is a very interesting article that goes in length about it if you wish to find out more.

And here is a video about Maillard Reaction and caramelization by foodsciencetv: