Maillard and cows!

I was in a seminar about dairy cow nutrition this evening, and we were talking about proteins. The professor out of the blue asks,

"Has anyone here heard of the Maillard reaction?"

I was zoning out because I'm not a hard core dairy person like all the other folks in the room, but a second later I was like oh, hey, wait, yes I have! I had to grin when I raised my hand. Of course the best I could come up with spur of the moment as to what it was was the brilliant,

"It's what happens when you sear meat," which was not so applicable to the cow nutrition topic, followed up with the brilliant "It's, like, a cooking thing!"

I was the only one who raised their hand, anyway, thanks to SE. Apparently, when things such as soybeans are roasted at too high a temperature, or when haylage ferments and reaches too high a temperature, Maillard reactions happen that bind up some of the protein such that it can't be utilized by the cows. Apparently this happens most frequently to the grain byproducts of distilleries such that it's generally suggested that farmers limit the amount of grain they're getting from distilleries because while it might test at a certain level of protein, Maillard reactions may have rendered a large proportion of it unusable.

I thought that was pretty interesting, anyway.

Serious Eats Newsletters

Keep up with our latest recipes, tips, techniques and where to eat!


Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: