Similar to, for example, how the Scoville scale measures spiciness by concentration of capsaicin, is there a scale that measures how toasted/roasted something is, perhaps as a function of the Maillard reaction or something?

  • In theory I get it probably could be done. It would need to be run every roast so don't see it happening. – paparazzo Dec 18 '17 at 21:25
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    Pretty simple. They would have a temperature and a time. – paparazzo Dec 18 '17 at 21:46
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    You might want to look into how it's specified for coffee. I don't remember the details but at least some roasters use a more complex measure than time at temperature. Colour can be measured quite accurately in controlled conditions so either final colour or change in colour could be used in theory – Chris H Dec 18 '17 at 21:57
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    I am not sure what you expect from an "accurate" scale. "The maillard reaction" is a family of reactions too large to have been enumerated, and happens differently in every recipe. The Scoville scale is a perception scale only, and varies between raters - what it gives is the relative strength between peppers, not some absolute number. Industries do use simple scales like the ones based on color, they are easy to understand and apply. A number doesn't sound very definable or practically useful. So my expectation is that such a scale shouldn't exist. – rumtscho Dec 20 '17 at 1:59
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    @rumtscho I guess that makes sense. I haven't found anything, so it looks like the answer is such a scale does not exist...thanks. – wysiwyg Dec 20 '17 at 20:04

There are two factors here: surface treatment and doneness. Doneness (as mentioned above) is a factor of temperature and time. Surface treatment, browning, and crust, may be more what you're asking about.

There are simple ways to measure surface browning:

  • colour (pink, grey, brown, freckled brown, and black)
  • dryness (wet -> dry)
  • thickness (thin -> thick)

So a good BBQ chunk of meat may have a dark colour (lots of browning, some burning) and a fairly wet and thick crust. It's wet, in that it's not crispy or crackled, and it's thick as in it's described as "bark".

A blackened, pan-fried steak will have a thin(ish) dry black crust, but show very little grey, assuming something like rare or medium rare.

A BBQed (not grilled) steak will have a slightly thicker, wetter crust.

A good smash burger will have a thin, fairly dry, and brown crust (possibly speckled).

A round/inside roast will be in between somewhere (probably), and can side anywhere from brown to dark, but usually fairly rare inside (up to medium).

A pot roast may be dark, but will almost always be wet and basically be all "crust" (or all one colour). Sometimes you brown pot roast ahead of time, in which case the surface may have some colour too.

A prime rib will have a wetish and darkish crust, and be very rare inside (ideally).

You may also consider the seasoning (and depth of seasoning) of a roasted food. BBQ often has a thick bark that is also seasoned most of the way through. Something like corned beef is cured, so has seasoning throughout (and on the surface).

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