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Maillard Reaction

Have you ever wonder what makes bread, cookies, and steak smell and taste so good? The delicacy and the mouth-watering aromas that comes from what seems to be a common cooking and baking is formed by the Maillard reaction. In addition to increasing palatability and appetite, this Maillard reaction is also responsible for browning color and adding depth and unique taste to the food, for example, the toasty and malty taste of bread, and the robustness of coffee.

What is Maillard reaction?

Maillard reaction is a non-enzymatic reaction that includes reducing sugar and amino acids exposed to a particular temperature. It was found by a French scientist named Louis-Camille Maillard who described heating sugars and amino acids in water and got yellow-brown color in 1912 [1].

The Maillard reaction is divided into 3 stages: the early, advanced, and final stages. The early stages is also called condensation which is created via Schiff Base and Amadori Rearrangement (Result: Amadori product). The advanced stage is sugar dehydration, sugar fragmentation, and amino acid degradation (also called Strecker degradation). The final stage is the condensation of reducing sugar and fragment sugar into fission products and last melanoidins which is responsible for flavor and brown color.

Maillard reaction products can be categorized into several compounds such as pyrrole, furan, oxazole, pyrazine, pyrroline, and other heterocyclic compounds [4].

Some factors that can affect the Maillard Reaction final product are time, heating temperature, type of amino acids and reducing sugar, water activity, and pH [5],[6].

Below are some examples of Maillard reaction products in our daily life.

1. Chicken

Chicken contains ribose as reducing sugars and cysteine as amino acids, and produces aromas such as 2-methyl-3-furanthiol which is responsible for the unique chicken aroma. Other major volatile compounds in chicken are 2-furfurylthiol, methionol, 2,4,5-trimethyl-thiazole, nonanol, and 2-trans-nonenal [7].

2. Fish

Fish also has amino acid and sugar , so when it is processed by heat (such as boiling, poaching, blanching, or braising), the Maillard reaction will occur. For example, pan-fried cod fish contains dimethyl disulfide (mushroom and metallic), 1-octen-3-ol (mushroom and green vegetable), and 2- pentenal, 2-hexenal, 2-octenal, 2-butanone, propanal,2-methyl, ethanone,1-cyclohexyl-, butanoic acid, 3-methyl ethyl ester, and s-methyl, 3-methylbutanethioate. Lastly, the fried cod fish flavor is complete with umami taste from Inosine-5-monophosphate. [8].

At Mitra Ayu, we are actively researching and creating new Flavors. Stay tuned for exciting new and innovative products from Mitra Ayu.

If you have any question, please contact us here or email us at

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