Why Does Charcoal Grilling Enhance Food Flavour?

Why Does Charcoal Grilling Enhance Food Flavour?

It may be a slight generalisation, but food nearly always tastes better when it’s been cooked. That’s not just an opinion, it’s a scientific fact!

When you brown food at high temperatures – whether we’re talking about a seared steak, the crust on a baked loaf, deep-fried chips or roasted coffee – a number of things are happening that improve the taste of your food. 

These include amino acids in the food reacting with sugars in a process called the Maillard reaction. At the same time, your food is also being caramelised as the sugar molecules brown to create a sweet, nutty flavour.

But this all happens whether you’re cooking with an oven, a frying pan, a gas grill or even a toaster.

So why is cooking with charcoal so much better?

The blend of aroma and taste

Our taste buds are complex things and the way they work isn’t so straightforward as just reacting to whatever you put into your mouth. 

Our tongues contain some 10,000 papillae, small bumps that both give our tongues their rough texture and contain our taste buds. When food comes into contact with our taste buds, the taste is interpreted as either salty, sweet, savoury or bitter (although umami is being increasingly recognised as a fifth taste) and the information is then passed on up to our brains.

spare-ribs grilled

However, even with the addition of umami, that still seems quite a limited range of flavours going on.

In fact, most of what we interpret as the flavour in our food is being driven by its aroma, which activates the saliva ducts in our mouths and combines with our taste buds to send more complex information about the flavours in our mouths to our brains.

In other words, if we didn’t have our sense of smell, we’d have a far more limited range of flavours that we’d be able to experience. 

If you’re a regular charcoal griller, you’ll know that it produces an aroma unlike just about any other cooking technique. That’s because burning charcoal breaks down lignin (an important component of wood, with charcoal being a residue produced by heating wood) to produce two compounds called guaiacol and syringol, which together impart that special smoky aroma – and therefore flavour – to the food. 

So food tasting better when cooked with charcoal isn’t just our opinion, it’s also a scientific fact!

Top-quality cooking charcoal supplied and delivered by KG Smith & Son

Of course, if you want to create the best aromas to get those taste buds firing, you need to be using only the very best cooking charcoal for your BBQ fuel. And that’s where KG Smith & Son comes in!

We’ve been in the charcoal business for over 70 years and know a lot about the best to use to produce the best tasting food. We supply some of the country’s leading restaurants with their cooking charcoal, helping to produce unbeatable flavours whether used in a steakhouse, a tandoori oven, a barbecue or a pizza oven.

Want to discover the unique aroma and taste that comes from cooking with some of the best charcoal available in the UK? Then get in touch with the team at KG Smith & Son to find out more or order your cooking charcoal online now.



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