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Chemical Reaction When Grilling

Without a significant chemical reaction during grilling, a steak would be neither crispy nor delicious. It would be tender and juicy but would end up grey and unappetizing on the plate. What is meant here is the Maillard reaction. Only the roasting aromas give the meat its wonderful browning and the typical taste of roasting.

However, caution is also required, because harmful compounds are formed at too high temperatures and too long cooking times. Thus, reading reviews on replacement for Jim Bowie grill can provide you with information about the perfect temperature when grilling.

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The discovery of the Maillard reaction

The Maillard reaction was, of course, named after its discoverer. In 1912, French scientist Louis Camille Maillard (1878-1936) conducted various experiments that would make him internationally famous. He wanted to know what happens when amino acids (these are found in the protein of meat, among other things) are heated together with sugar. In a multi-stage chemical process, a large number of substances were created that have a major impact on the taste of food. These substances are commonly referred to as “roasted flavours”.

Significance of the Maillard reaction

When grilling meat, the Maillard reaction runs unnoticed in the background. But not only there, because the same chemical processes are also at work when roasting, baking, caramelizing, roasting coffee or malting brewing barley. Without the Maillard reaction, your life would only be half as delicious, that much is clear.

Maillard reaction: Only delicious or also dangerous?

Almost all foods contain sugar in one way or another. When heated to high temperatures, the sugar reacts with amino acids, which are contained in the meat as protein building blocks. In the process, these new molecular compounds form and the aromatic roasted substances are created. The Maillard reaction is essentially dependent on the temperature. At temperatures below 140° Celsius, moisture reduces these chemical reactions. For this reason, it is important to first sear a pot roast before placing it in the liquid to be stewed.

On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, these toasted substances will burn and become bitter. From 180° Celsius, this charring effect sets in if it lasts too long, whereby acrylamide can also form to an increased extent. These substances are converted to glycidamide in the human organism, which is suspected of changing the genetic material and thus being carcinogenic. A temperature range between 140 and 180° Celsius is therefore optimal for the Maillard reaction. In this area, taste-intensive melanoidins are formed. These are responsible for the brownish colour and the typical taste of the grilled food.