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Feb 14, 2012 08:39 PM

Do you caramelize or brown ?

Tonight I had made a simple marinade wih two cloves a garlic sliced thin with a little sea salt, olive oil, fresh bay laurel from my tree and a little rosemary. Combine ingredients and let sit. Spoon over lamb shoulder chop. Marinate one hour. Wipe off marinade. Place chop in pan, turn often. You can hear the sound of sizzle cooked over medium high heat in a cast iron pan . Seven minutes looks brown and beautiful. Not caramelized. Do you brown or caramelized ? Is this a word trend ? Is there a difference ?

Vegetables, meat, starch, Which is wich ? Cramalize onions brown the meat. Or otherwise?

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  1. i always thought that you brown and the sugars in whatever you're browning caramelize.... but maybe i don't have the terms right.

    and yes, caramelizing onions is a long slow process, not the searing (browning) you do to meat, as MM says.

    1. Caramelizing onions is a slow process done on a relatively low heat. There are many ways to do this, but the process when done properly cannot be sped up. Browning meat is typically done at high temperature for a short period of time, generally to lock in moisture and flavor among other thing. In both processes, the sugars are being caramelized but the process and result are very different.

      1. Technically speaking browning (Maillard reaction) is caused by a reaction between sugars and amino acid aided by heat. Carmelization is when you heat sugar and it begins to decompose due to the theat.

        Carmelization releases chemicals that produce the familiar Carmel flavor, which is slightly bitter and if you caramelize sugar too long you will end up with carbon.

        In browning the flavor is varied because different sugars are reacting with different amino acids and it is this ratio that gives the flavor. If you continue browning all that happens is the food will get more and more complex flavor, unless you burn it which is just creating carbon/extreme carmelization, hence the bitter taste of burnt food.