Experiment maillard reactie

to show how sugars change the browning and flavour of meat


A piece of pork loin or a beef steak
Small quantity of vegetable oil
Golden syrup or honey
Measuring cup
Large frying pan

Cut several strips of meat about one centimetre (half an inch) wide and ten centimetres in length, along the direction of the muscle fibres. Dissolve a teaspoon of honey or golden syrup in half a cup of hot water and marinate half the meat strips in this for an hour. Heat the oil in the frying pan and, keeping the marinated strips separate from the rest of the meat, fry all the strips gently for five minutes or so. Taste both to see the difference in the flavour.

The marinated strips should have browned much more quickly than those left raw. Most of this browning is caused by the sugars (glucose) from the honey or syrup reacting with the proteins in the meat. The marinated strips will perhaps be too sweet but if we could have used ribose (the sugar in the meat) the flavour would be clearly more meaty.

Prolonged heating at low temperatures breaks down collagen, allows the meat fibres to separate and tenderises tougher joints which have more connective tissue.

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