Role in cooking:
So in conclusion, the roles of proteins in food and cooking are large and extremely diverse:
· Stabilising (both water-fat mixes and water-air mixes)
· Affecting texture – both water retention (gelling) and water removal (syneresis)
· Affecting taste by its role in the Maillard reactions
The large range of functions provided by this group is due to the large number of different proteins that
can exist. The starches, for example, are based on a single subunit – the glucose unit, so the number
of possible different structures that can be formed is fairly limited. As a result, the different starches
tend to have similar roles.
The proteins however, can be composed of any combination of the basic twenty different amino acids,
and this gives rise to an enormous number of different possible amino acid sequence combinations
that can exist. Since amino acid sequence affects protein structure, an enormous number of different
structures of proteins can exist. Since the structure of a molecule affects its functions, it is of little
surprise that the protein group offers the chef such a wide range of different functions.
Some special proteins
Enzymes are a special group of proteins that control chemical reactions. The majority of reactions that
control the living world do not occur spontaneously. In order for the substrates involved to react and
produce their related products, an enzyme is needed to speed up the reaction. The enzymes
themselves remain unchanged, but their presence is essential to allow changes in the reacting
molecules. Enzymes contain an active site, into which the reacting molecules can fit. This brings the
substances into close contact, favouring their reaction.
IV/II - 6 (of 6)
An example of a non enzyme controlled reaction where two products react with each other to form a
single product molecule
The same reaction speeded up in the presence of an enzyme (shown in blue)
Enzymes are responsible for controlling both useful and undesired reactions in food and cooking.