What Do You Put On It To Make It Brown?

by Joslyn Neiderer

Steaks on a plate.

Steaks on a plate.

During my second pregnancy, I craved tacos, specifically ground beef tacos. I wanted them at all the regular meals times: breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also at 4 A.M. When I was put on bed rest at twenty-one weeks, my poor husband took over the 4 A.M. taco runs. Soon after he decided we should have a steady supply of taco fixings at home.

“What do I do first?” he asked.

“You brown the meat,” I told him.

“Okay,” he said stepping towards the stove holding the spatula aloft. “What do I put on it to make it brown?”

What I was referring to was heating the meat – cooking it until it turned brown. I’ve learned that a lot of people understand “browning meat” but don’t understand the process at work behind the color change.

So I made this video to try to explain it a little more.

A simplified view of the structure of red meat down to the microscopic myoglobin, which gives the meat it’s signature color. Credit: Joslyn Neiderer

A simplified view of the structure of red meat down to the microscopic myoglobin, which gives the meat it’s signature color.

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Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences
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