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Using Baking Soda To Improve Caramelization

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onions_baking_sodaThe Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between carbohydrates (sugar) and amino acids (proteins).  In food, it has a profound effect on flavor, color and aroma.  Maillard reactions are important in baking, frying or otherwise heating of nearly all foods. It is responsible for the savory flavor of roasted meats as well as the toasted flavor of baked breads to name a few.

During Maillard's reaction, sugar and amino acids combine to form hundreds of new and different flavour compounds.  Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction.  In fact, these same compounds have been used by flavor scientists to create artificial flavors.

One of the keys to great cooking is managing the Maillard reaction.  One way to accelarate the Maillard reaction without burning food is to increase the PH by adding baking soda. Take browning onions (substitute shallots if onions bother your bladder).  Adding a pinch of baking soda accelerates the browning process and greatly enahances the flavor.

Take a look at this time lapse video illustrating how adding a pinch of baking soda accelerates and improves the maillard reaction.

Not only is there a visible difference, but the taste is different too.  The onions cooked with the pinch of baking soda taste much sweeter with strong caramel overtones.

If you don't stock baking soda in your cupboards already, you should.  For people with IC, baking soda is a fantastic treatment for quickly shutting down a painful flair.  You should always carry a little with you in your purse too, just in case.  For more tips on how to control bladder flares, see our article on Quick Bladder Pain Relief.

 


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