Flavors from Cooking

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Low-temperature pasteurization slightly modifies milk flavor by driving off some of the more delicate aromas, but stabilizes it by inactivating enzymes and bacteria, and adds slightly sulfury and green-leaf notes (dimethyl sulfide, hexanal). High-temperature pasteurization or brief cooking—heating milk above 170°F/76°C—generates traces of many flavorful substances, including those characteristic of vanilla, almonds, and cultured butter, as well as eggy hydrogen sulfide. Prolonged boiling encourages browning or Maillard reactions between lactose and milk proteins, and generates molecules that combine to give the flavor of butterscotch.