The word “umami” translates to “pleasant savory taste,” and boy oh boy does it ever live up to its name. It’s that complex, hearty, and satisfying sensation that comes with eating indulgent foods like a thick, juicy steak, exquisite wild mushrooms and nutty, divine Parmesan cheese. And adding umami flavor to your food can do a lot more than simply make it taste good — it can work some serious mental magic as well
Before we reveal umami’s secret scientific superpowers, we need to explain exactly what it is and where it comes from. This incredible flavor gets its unique taste from three flavorful compounds: glutamate, inosinate, and guanylate. These are amino acids that bind with taste receptors on the tongue, unleashing a symphony of extraordinary savory flavor.
Protein-rich foods are the holy grail for umami seekers. Some processes, like curing or fermentation, unleash free glutamate in the food, cranking up that savory flavor to eleven. And it can be added to just about anything to seriously amp up the savoriness! Even in plant-based meals, it brings that meaty and satisfying punch you can’t resist.
You know what umami can do to your taste buds, but what you don’t know is what it can do to your body — specifically, your brain. First off, it’s a protein detector, helping your body recognize the protein content in your food. Those amino acids activate g-coupled protein receptors on your tongue, teaching you to crave the nutritious, protein-packed meals you need for a balanced diet.
Not only that, but umami also boosts salivation and ramps up your appetite. When you savor umami-rich foods, your body springs into action, secreting saliva and digestive juices to tackle those complex proteins, and keeping you feeling satisfied and fueled for the day. Some studies suggest that this delightful flavor induces a sense of satiety, making you feel fuller and more content after a meal. Adding umami to your products tricks the brain, allowing you to reduce fat and calories without sacrificing taste.
If you’re wondering how to get that umami kick in your dishes, we’re here to help you sprinkle the magic into your secret recipe. While umami occurs naturally in many fermented and protein-rich foods, we can also source and synthesize flavor compounds that deliver that rich, savory taste. Volatile sulfur compounds like disulfides and trisulfides can add those oniony, beefy, and roasted flavors that create intense depth of flavor that’s sure to satisfy.
When dreaming up your next winning flavor formula, don’t forget to embrace the umami. It’s an unsung hero that turns ordinary meals into extraordinary feasts. It’s not just a taste — it’s an entire experience.
Curious about the magic Umami can bring to your next project? Ready to get cooking? Reach out to our team. They love answering questions and kitchen magic.