• it's not caramelized – it doesn't get hot enough.
  • it's not fermented – the process is enzymatic, not due to fungus, yeast, or bacteria.
  • it's not pickled – no acid brine is added
  • it's not curing – no salt, nitrates, nitrites, or sugar are added
  • it's not smoked
  • it's done at around 140F/60C, so it's not Maillard Reaction product, which only begins at 280F/140C in the absence of water

I've been referring to it as curing.

So, what's the consensus? If an inventor is known, what did that person call the process?

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    Painting? (Going for the off-the-wall answer today) – WBT Mar 3 '20 at 16:40

What you're describing - a material being broken down by its own enzymes - is usually referred to as "autolysis".


The Noma Guide to Fermentation (Redzepi & Zilber) suggest that multiple processes are at play when creating black fruits and vegetables. They make clear that it is not fermentation, but it is largely an enzymatic process. Because of the temperature required, the process is mainly one of chemical reaction. They suggest that Maillard reaction does takes place over the long period of time the process requires. However, they also state that caramelization due to the pyrolysis of sugars is a factor. These are examples of non-enzymatic browning. In addition, enzymatic browning is also happening as the "phenolic compounds in the plant's tissue" are altered. So, I don't think you can narrow this to one process. Both enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions are happening.

I would recommend the book if your interest includes fermentation.

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    my interests do include fermentation. I will pick up that book. thank you! – pleasePassTheCheese Mar 2 '20 at 22:20
  • 2
    got the book. read the chapter. very good stuff! – pleasePassTheCheese Mar 3 '20 at 21:23

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