Cooking Accelerates Enzyme Action Before Stopping It

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Because the activity of an enzyme depends on its structure, any change in that structure will destroy its effectiveness. So cooking foods sufficiently will denature and inactivate any enzymes they may contain. One vivid example of this principle is the behavior of raw and cooked pineapple in gelatin. Pineapples and certain other fruits contain an enzyme that breaks proteins down into small fragments. If raw pineapple is combined with gelatin to make a jelly, the enzyme digests the gelatin molecules and liquifies the jelly. But canned pineapple has been heated enough to denature the enzyme, and makes a firm gelatin jelly.