When you think of an allium, what comes to mind? Near the top of the list may be onion or garlic. Scientists Shane McDonald, PhD and Kathryn Thamann discuss alliums as a foundation for foods and the endless opportunities that they present below.

Crafting Taste with Onion and Garlic

Onion and garlic provide the foundation from which so many flavors can be built. That is because of their versatility. When you start with an intact allium, you are holding the inception of everything it could become. The only thing limiting you is your imagination. The first step to opening up the possibilities is to understand the potential.

Alliums, when intact, are fairly odorless prior to introducing any human intervention. Through the act of cutting, crushing or otherwise disrupting the tissue triggers a cascade of reactions, unleashing unmistakably pungent aromas. And, because these compounds are very volatile and heat sensitive, they can also be manipulated through different cooking techniques. The flavor and aroma of a raw onion compared to a saut̩ed onion are much different because the volatile compounds are minimized once heat is introduced. Two important reactions are responsible for flavor development while cooking Рcaramelization and the Maillard reaction.

Download the full Crafting Taste article where Dr. McDonald and Thamann discuss these two reactions.

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About the Authors

portrait of Shane McDonald, flavor chemistDr. Shane McDonald has a PhD in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a Certified Flavor Chemist and has been working in the flavor industry for over 25 years, mostly in savory flavors, reaction flavors, pungency, and flavor for beer. Shane has been at Kalsec for almost 14 years and is currently Principal Flavor Chemist.

portrait of Kathryn Thamann, assistant scientistKathryn Thamann has a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a great love for food, which she uses together in her work at Kalsec as an Assistant Scientist in Taste and Sensory Solutions. She focuses on customer-driven projects utilizing a wide cabinet of savory flavors and natural extracts in a variety of different applications while also exploring the science behind flavor chemistry.

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