8

I have a (molecular) cooking recipe with instructions on introducing an agent to create an alkaline (base) environment while cooking (to influence the Maillard reaction).

What 'normal'/common ingredients can I use to create such an environment in my pan?

4

That is absolutely correct, an alkaline environment will speed Maillard reactions, and baking soda is a simple choice for creating it. The one thing to watch out for, depending on what you are cooking is that it can also create a mushy texture. You'll want to use a very small amount, less than 1% by weight for sure.

2

Baking soda is the easiest and safest way to get a base in cooking. I've never heard of using it for browning, though.

  • 1
    Lowering the PH aids browning. A lot of pretzel recipes will have a baking soda wash for this purpose (as well as texture). – Sobachatina Aug 31 '10 at 14:36
  • 2
    @Sobachatina: Lower pH = more acidic. A base (higher alkalinity) would have a higher pH. – Aaronut Aug 31 '10 at 14:52
  • 1
    @Sobachatina Now that I think about it, I think I have seen pretzel and bagel recipes that used either baking soda or a lye solution . . . but I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone use lye in a home kitchen. – Bob Aug 31 '10 at 20:29
  • Here's a chicken recipe that uses baking powder to get a nice crisp brown skin -- I guess because of the influence on the Maillard reaction: thepauperedchef.com/2008/02/crisp-skinned-r.html – Martha F. Sep 2 '10 at 15:57
  • @Martha baking powder actually contains baking soda (base) + cream of tartar (acid), leaving it with a neutral (or close to it) ph. I wonder why that recipe works; it seems that straight baking soda would do a better job. – Bob Sep 2 '10 at 16:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.