Just Exactly What Is Umami?

Umami is a term to describe the culinary experience of savory flavor. It comes from the Japanese language and is included in the five basic tastes: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and umami. In US culture, umami is the least emphasized flavor of the five. Umami is detected on the tongue via the presence of glutamate, an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Glutamate is also the most abundant neurotransmitter in our nervous system. Mushrooms contain large amounts of glutamate as well as other substances that create the experience of umami. 

The primary substances that compose the umami flavor are glutamate, inosinate and guanylateResearch indicates that the human tongue tastes umami more fully when these substances are combined rather than presented individually. Umami synergy is best experienced when glutamate is combined with inosinate or guanylate. Mushrooms like oyster mushrooms contain approximately 10mg per 100g of guanylate. 

Fresh mushrooms are delicious, but sometimes they aren’t available or aren’t suitable for adding to a recipe you are making. Ancient Asian cultures discovered the power of dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms contain more concentrated amounts of the chemicals that create the umami experience, thus making them an essential addition to any great cook’s array of tools and resources in creating delicious meals. 

Guided By Mushrooms Umami Spice Blends are a great source of all the components of umami. Adding these powders to your recipes enhances the flavor immensely, while avoiding any sort of fear of artificial flavors or colors. In the coming weeks, we will be posting recipes and tips for using our culinary mushroom powders to liven up your dishes and set your family’s tastebuds on a new, satisfying journey. 

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