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Why Does Brown Taste So Good?

Posted: 10/14/10 04:56 PM ET

Often times the goal of a cooking method or technique is to achieve a brown color. Grilling, roasting, sauteing, searing, etc. etc., all processes undertaken to give color ingredients.

Brown food tastes better; we see the color in cooked foods and subconsciously are drawn to it. Charred steak, roasted vegetables, caramel sauce, toasted bread, golden brown fried potatoes; they all look very appetizing. Our brains know it, but does our mind understand it?

Let me try to explain. There are two types of browning:

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Caramelization: The browning of sugar molecules happens around 310 degrees. Molecules get shaken up by the energy of the high heat, the atoms rattle apart and come back together in a wide array of compounds, browning occurs and great complexity of flavor develops. Consider the difference between eating a spoonful of table sugar, and a taking on a spoonful of caramel.

The rich color and flavor of this Dulce de Leche epitomize what carmelization can do for the flavor of an ingredient. In this case condensed milk.
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