Your nose has not been lying to you all these years! Scientists recently confirmed that the aroma of frying Bacon is (probably) the ultimate in an Umami experience, short of actually tasting the stuff. Or any stuff, for that matter. It’s all in the complex aromatic compounds that abound in those sizzling slices!
You’ve often wondered, I’m sure, and now the American Chemical Society (ASC) has obliged with a recent paper on why cooking Bacon smells so good.
It turns out that there are a number of chemical compounds produced by cooking bacon that define its distinctive, mouth-watering aroma. Without getting too technical, let’s just say that the compounds unique to Bacon are all nitrogen-based and all end with “-ethylpyrazine”.
Frying Bacon also contains “furans”, the compounds that raise meaty odours and flavours in other meats when they are cooked. But it seems the -ethylpyrazines make all the difference, elevating Bacon above the crowd.
How are these etherial compounds produced? Well, we’re all familiar with the caramelization process, by which meats get brown and crispy (and yummy) on the outside when cooked, especially at high temperatures. We just love those. That’s why we often sear meats on the outside before finishing the cooking process at a lower temperature.
What happens is, the furans – the initial products of caramelization – come into contact with rendering fats and react to produce higher-order compounds specific to each type of meat. It is well-known that bacon fat is the ambrosia of the grease family. It is highly prized, along with rare and beautiful Duck fat, by serious chefs of all skill levels.
Love Bacon Fat? Then you gotta love Bacon -ethylpyrazines!
No comment is made in the ACS report about the addictiveness of bacon and its signature aroma. But I’m betting there is something to that long-supposed connection, as well!
~ Maggie J.