Whether simple or complex, carbohydrates are essential in certain cooking reactions.

What are the fundamentals of carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are an essential building block of foods, and provide humans with energy and nutrients. While carbohydrates are often simplified into simple and complex carbs, they include thousands of molecule types, including sugars, starches, pectin, cellulose, and gums.

These all react differently to cooking processes and can create so many different physical structures.

  • Sugars set the scene for , and starches allow for to occur.
  • In , yeast feeds on carbohydrates and transforms them into CO2 bubbles and for airy breads or effervescent drinks.
💡 Energy: 4 calories per gram
🧪 Carbohydrate-related reactions:
🛠️ Carbohydrate-related techniques:

Carbohydrate-rich foods

  • Fruits
  • Sugars
  • Beer
  • Grains
  • Vegetables

How do carbohydrates affect the elements of flavor?

In order of importance:

— Starches affect the texture of so many dishes, from breads to candies. Their texture can be manipulated in almost any way.

— Carb-rich foods can have many different tastes, especially sweet, bitter, and even sour if fermented!

— Caramelization happens in the presence of carbohydrates and high heat, a cooking reaction that creates hundreds of new aroma compounds in foods.

— Carbs provide us with energy. We’re biologically wired to crave sugars and carbs for a quick hit of blood sugar — which is why carbs-rich foods are often the most crave-able.

— Because carbs are present in so many foods, the possibilities are endless for how carbs affect our emotional reading of foods. Different cultures use carb-rich foods in different ways in their diets and cuisines.

— Likewise, carbohydrates can change the visuals of foods in endless ways, which affects our experience of them. Notably, sugars are easily caramelized, which leads to a generally appealing golden brown color, such as on a creme brûlée or baked muffin.

Carb Load