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This chemical reaction is behind all those flavours and aromas you get on seared meat and baked goods

The Maillard Reaction is one of the main reasons your food tastes as good as it does.

21 Aug 2018
cooking steak in pan

(images: iStock)

How intoxicating is the aroma of freshly popped toast? Or a sizzling steak being cooked on the braai? Those crispy, moreish bits of meat on the edges starting to caramelise from the heat... 


Most of the time you're probably applying the Maillard Reaction in your kitchen without even realising it. What is the Maillard reaction? Simply put, it refers to a process that changes both the chemical and physical properties of your food with heat that results in new aromas (hello, roasted coffee beans), colours (think dark crunchy toast) and also rich and intense flavours. In fact, it is arguably one of the important flavour-producing reactions in cooking, making food palatable and delicious. 

Let's go a little deeper... 

Sugars and amino acids in the raw food form entirely new compounds with the introduction of heat. WATCH this video to learn more about the science-y reaction that we can thank for making food yum! 

ALSO READ: Why you can’t break spaghetti into only two pieces: the weird science behind everyone’s favourite pasta

Read more on: science  |  cooking


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2019-04-15 12:07
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