Browning (chemical process)
Browning is the process of becoming
brown, especially referring to food. Browning foods may be desirable, as in caramelization, or undesirable, as in an apple turning brown after being cut. Foods turn brown through an enzymatic or a non-enzymatic process.
Enzymic browning is a chemical process involving
polyphenol oxidaseor other enzymesthat create melanins, resulting in a brown color. Enzymic browning is an important color reaction in fruit, vegetables, and seafood. Enzymatic browning of fruits and vegetables creates heavy economic losses for growers.
Enzymic browning is beneficial for:
*Developing flavor in
tea(here the reaction is incorrectly called fermentation)
*Developing color and flavor in
dried fruitsuch as figs and raisins.
Enzymatic browning is detrimental to:
*Fresh fruit and vegetables, in particular
*Seafood such as
Enzymatic browning is usually controlled with chemicals (such as
sodium bisulfite), or by destroying the responsible chemicals with heat. Blanchingto destroy the enzymes is commonly used to preserve color in vegetables. Lemonjuice and other acids are used to preserve color in fruit, particularly apples, by lowering the pHand removing the copper cofactornecessary for the enzyme to function.
Non-enzymatic, or "oxidative", browning is a chemical process that produces a brown color in foods without the activity of enzymes.
Melanins and other chemicals are responsible for the brown color. The two main forms of non-enzymatic browning are caramelization and the Maillard reaction. Both vary in reaction rate as a function of water activity. Caramelizationis the oxidationof sugar. It is used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released producing the characteristic caramelflavor.
Maillard reactionis a chemical reactionbetween an amino acidand a reducing sugar, usually requiring the addition of heat. The sugar interacts with the amino acid, producing a variety of odors and flavors. The Maillard reaction is the basis of the flavoringindustry, since the type of amino acid involved determines the resulting flavor.
Browning (partial cooking)
* [http://www.fao.org/ag/ags/agsi/ENZYMEFINAL/Enzymatic%20Browning.html FAO page on enzymatic browning]
* [http://www.decagon.com/food_science/info/safety.php Stability Diagram of Foods]
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