Cast iron pan with grilled onion and garlic

Onion and garlic provide the foundation from which so many flavors can be built. That’s 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 sautéed onion are much different because the volatile compounds are minimized once heat is introduced.

Two important reactions are responsible for flavor development while cooking:

1. Caramelization

causes brown sweet notes from the thermal degradation of sugars.

2. The Maillard Reaction

produces nutty, meaty, and savory brown notes arising from the reactions between amino acids and reducing sugars.

Depending on the intensity of the cooking process, you can create a variety of flavor profiles including fried, sautéed and caramelized. Each has their own unique and distinguishable taste, making alliums one of the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen.

Alliums also influence flavor of more complicated foods. Kalsec studied the Maillard flavor reactions that occurred when adding onion or garlic extracts, powders and juices to vegetarian beef, vegetarian chicken and a vegetable broth. Our Analytic and Sensory team found that the added alliums influenced the flavor of the finished reactions. Extracts in particular had a great impact on the finished flavors and were shown to economically add characteristic allium flavor with fermented and herbal notes.

Cast iron pan with grilled alliums, on a wood cutting board

With extracts, you can capture the complexity of alliums, whether you seek a raw taste and sensory experience, or a cooked flavor to add culinary dimension to your product. Just as this powerhouse ingredient makes a difference in the kitchen, with our help, it can make a difference in your savory application. The sky is the limit!