Cooking Onions: Flavor Chemistry Changes

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_21597" align="alignright" width="480"] M-m-m, Sweet![/caption] An onion, particularly a yellow or Bermuda onion possesses a strong, perhaps acrid flavor. And its aroma? You are likely to weep when you chop one! Yet, if you take that same onion and fry it, it can be just as fragrant and sweet as ever you could wish. What happened? It's a matter of chemistry. From Wild to Tame The flavor of a raw onion is the product of a number of complex organic substances. The ingredient primarily responsible for tear-ing, is (Z)-propanethial-S-oxide. This compound, a lachrymator (tear-producing gas), is produced when onion cell walls are broken by slicing and chopping. Does frying result in a decrease of this chemical, resulting in sweetness? Does this compound decompose on frying to producing the sweetness?1…
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