Yes, adding sugar to onions can help them caramelize faster.
Caramelization is a process that occurs when sugars in a food item are heated, causing them to break down and form new compounds that give the food a characteristic brown color and sweet, nutty flavor. Onions naturally contain some sugars, but the amount is relatively low compared to other foods that are commonly caramelized, such as carrots or sweet potatoes.
When sugar is added to onions, it provides more of the necessary sugars for caramelization to occur, which can speed up the process.
Does caramel catalyze its own production? ……. Yes, caramel can catalyze its own production through a process called autocatalysis. Autocatalysis is a type of catalytic reaction in which one of the products of the reaction acts as a catalyst for the same reaction. In the case of caramelization, as sugar is heated, it undergoes a series of chemical reactions that produce various compounds, including caramel. As caramel is produced, it can act as a catalyst for further caramelization reactions. This occurs because the compounds in the caramel can react with the sugar molecules and break them down, forming more caramel and other flavor compounds.
The presence of caramel can also lower the activation energy required for the caramelization reaction to occur, which can further speed up the process of caramelization. This is why caramelization tends to accelerate as it progresses, especially in the presence of heat and acidic conditions.