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What is umami? Five facts about umami

Five facts about umami

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Umami, also known as monosodium glutamate, is one of the fifth significant tastes, including sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami means “essence of delight” in Japanese, and its taste is often described as the meaty and savory delight that deepens the flavor.

1. Umami is more than just a buzzword.

Umami is the fifth central taste. Scientists identified umami taste receptors on the human tongue in 2002 (along with the others: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty). This means that umami is a universally enjoyed inherent taste.

2. Umami is found in our daily food

In technically, umami is the taste of glutamate, an amino acid that is one of the building blocks of protein. Glutamate occurs naturally in the human body and in many delicious foods we eat every day, such as aged cheeses, cured meats, tomatoes, mushrooms, salmon, steak, anchovies, green tea, and the list goes on.

3. Umami was discovered 110 years ago in Japan

discovery of umami

Japanese scientist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda first identified umami. While enjoying a bowl of seaweed broth called kombu dashi, he noticed that the salty taste was distinct from the four primary sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors. He called this different taste “umami,” which means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. Dr. Ikeda eventually discovered that the taste for umami was attributed to glutamate.

4. Umami has three different properties

characterists of umami taste
  • The umami taste spreads across the tongue.
  • It lasts longer than other basic tastes.
  • Provides a delicious sensation.

5.Umami is easy to achieve

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, we often add umami when something seems to be missing in our food. Cooking with glutamate-rich ingredients will round out the flavors in any dish. Umami boosters are great for stocking your pantry, including ketchup, miso, truffle oil, ranch dressing, and soy sauce, to name a few. Proteins like pork, beef, fish, and seafood form a strong umami base, and vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and seaweed are also high in glutamate (umami). And for the purest form of umami, sprinkle in a pinch of monosodium glutamate (MSG) – add any combination of these glutamate-rich ingredients, and you’ve got an umami bomb!

Another important natural source of umami taste is yeast extract. Please check our yeast extract products.

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