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Old 11-26-2008, 02:58 PM   #1
Edcculus
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Default Caramelization vs. Melanoidins

I've been listening to the Brewing Network a LOT recently. A topic that has come up a few times in some of the podcasts is caramelization vs melanoidins. I've noticed that a lot of people are misusing the term caramelization in regards to boiling wort. I wanted to clear things up.

Caramelization is a reaction between two sugars. It occurs at temperatures above 300F in the presence of oxygen. Therefore, in a normal boil, you will NOT caramelize sugars. This also tends to happen in a dryer environment.

The browning of wort is a Maillard Reaction. This reaction is between an amino acid and sugar. It happens at lower temperatures and in a "wetter" environment. Melaniodins are produced in this reaction.

Therefore, you are not caramelizing unless you put a very small amount of wort in the kettle and reduce it down (like you would do to make caramel on the stovetop).

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Old 11-26-2008, 03:03 PM   #2
LooyvilleLarry
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So, usually the topic of carmelization comes up in the context of electric heating. Are you saying that the temperature at the element is less than 300*, so no risk of carmelization?

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Old 11-26-2008, 03:28 PM   #3
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I'm not an expert, but as far as I know, you just run the risk of increased melanoidin production. Although you get hot spots where the element contacts the wort, the overall temperature of the wort can be no higher than 212*F (100*C) since its boiling.

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