Laboratory: Amino Acids, Proteins, and Maillard Browning
Proteins are a major class of food constituents. These macromolecules have various properties that determine their behavior in foods. Some act as surfactants and have foam-and emulsion-stabilizing ability; some have great water binding properties that allow them to coagulate and form gels under certain conditions; and some are important for their enzymatic activity. The amino acid composition of proteins influences the functional qualities of individual proteins. Many foodstuffs possess distinctive color and odor characteristics as a result of reactions between amino groups and reducing compounds (Maillard reaction or Strecker degradation). Depending on the extent of formation, these pigments and odors may be desirable or undesirable. In addition, free amino acids influence taste sensations.