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What is a Maillard reaction?

This definition applies to the question: What is the Diffusion Hypothesis of image formation?

According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia:

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring the addition of heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar interacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and interesting but poorly characterized odor and flavor molecules result. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry, since the type of amino acid determines the resulting flavor.

In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds in turn break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds that flavor scientists have used over the years to create artificial flavors.

Although used since ancient times, the reaction is named after the chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who investigated it in the 20th century.

 

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