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The Science in Oven-Cooked Food Flavours

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Why do we like some flavours better than others?

Think about what strikes you the most, when you come back home. What makes you think there will be a pleasant meal, waiting for you, before you even stepped in the kitchen?

That’s right, the food’s flavour, floating in the air. The scent of freshly baked goodies, prepped in a clean oven has no match. On the opposite site, imagine cooking in a stove that hasn’t been cleaned for a long time – the smell would be rather obnoxious. Therefore, in order for science to work in your case, make sure you keep your cooker in pristine condition – cleaning it deeply every couple of months is a sure-fire way to do that.

Food Scent and Ovens

baked oven muffins

In practice, it’s probably more right to talk in the sense of “food scent”. Whatever we choose to call it, this example perfectly demonstrates it significance. Because, very often, even before we see and taste the food, its flavour shows clearly how delicious it will be.

Furthermore, even if it is well-presented and has a wonderful taste, you will definitely not tempt to try food that has an obnoxious smell. If you bear in mind, that you breathe in air between 17 000 and 30 000 times during the day, transforming over 550 litres of oxygen, you realise that the sense of smell is an especially important subject for every admirer of the good food.

Out of the 5 senses, the sense of smell is the most direct one: when we detect the flavour of a tasty pasta with tomato sauce, for example, the aromatic molecules reach the nasal cavity and the mucous membrane, containing smell receptors, catch them.

They are composed of 5 mln. cells, full of “cilia” which transfer information to a specific area of the brain, through the smell nerve, when in contact with smell molecules.

 What Science Has to Say

science reaction

The Maillard reaction helps for creating scents, which are particularly pleasant for your palate, as long as the food contains the least possible amount of water, before cooking.

This direct contact between the nose and the brain explains how a simple scent can evoke emotion. It also explains why, even with your eyes closed, you can associate it with specific experiences or people. In short, you will be remembered with the smell of food you serve to people: so, let’s guarantee their memories will be pleasant.

Even further, the sense of smell experience influences the food taste.

Without any further boring scientific explanations, what you need to know is that our primitive ancestors smelled food, in order to judge whether it’s good for consumption or not (similarly to many other smells, cats are a wonderful example for such a conduct).

It’s due to two processes, called “orthonasal sense of smell” and “retronasal sense of smell” which transform the signal of smell into a signal of taste, thus cranking up your taste reception.

Throughout the evolution frame, the human learnt to classify series of powerful taste experiences. In fact, the true reason for the good smell of food is the high temperature. Simply put, the heat leads to a guaranteed amino-acid reaction with certain types of sugars, in many foods, in order to form dicarbonyls, which, in turn, react with different amino-acids, thus expanding the reaction. Those dicarbonyls, as fresh as they are, will create the pleasant sensations. The ones that form in a dirty oven, on the other hand, are, let’s just say, quite weary to work it out. Therefore, the smell of burnt troubles a kitchen that’s left neglected.

This way, the pleasant smells and tastes intensify.

A Word or Two on Oven Cleaning & Food Flavours

If you think about it, the boiled foods create some of the most unappetizing cooking flavours.

  • If you strive to create flavours which will surely tempt even the people with the strongest will, remember these several simple tips:
  • First, pick grilled or oven-roasted foods. They are more likely to create “pleasant smells”. The high temperature, in fact, spreads out the scent molecules more effectively.
  • Second, nobody likes the smell of burnt food leftovers and greasy stains. If plenty of these reside in your stove’s chamber, then they will mess with the actual flavours of your meals and easily ruin them. Have a good look through your oven door window – if you can’t make what’s already cooking inside, then it needs some serious cleaning. Same is the deal with the oven racks, trays and other easy to smear parts. Overall, make sure your cooker’s clean enough, in order to pave your way into the world of pleasant food flavours.
  • Another tick is to use combinations that are rich in sugars: for example, grilled meat or chicken shish-kaboop can be covered with honey before cooking. Don’t spare the butter, too: it’s another substance, which, due to high temperatures, leaves molecules, which are extremely appetizing for the nose and the palate.

Finally, think about the oven-baked products, such as croissants: what else can be a stronger temptation for your appetite? We hope you’ve understood the fact, that the good cuisine is something for which you need to have a feeling for. A scenty feeling.

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