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What is Denaturation?

Denaturation plays a wide role in cooking. Common ingredients such as eggs are turned into soufflé's, milk becomes cheese, meat becomes opaque and much more. It allows for the production of many creative dishes which explore the many different possibilities of food.

Taken from the root word denature, this refers to a structural change in macromolecules of a substance. During this process, nucleic acids or proteins lose both the secondary and tertiary structures that are present in its natural state due to disruption or destruction. This happens when a compound or external stress is applied. External stress can come in several different forms including heat, acid, organic solvents, base and inorganic salt.

As a result, protein shape is altered and cellular function may no longer be carried out as usual. The uncoiled beta sheets within proteins uncoil into random shapes. Despite the disruption of the alpha helix, peptide bonds may remain intact after the process of denaturation. A wide range of characteristics can be displayed by proteins which undergo denaturation. Loss of solubility, communal aggregation or the grouping of hydrophobic proteins and loss of biological activity are some examples.

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