(Please note: As always, all opinions in my posts are my own and do not reflect the views or policies of the Mega Foundation.)
Umami: Part 1 may be viewed at:
Umami: Part 2 may viewed at:
One of the many umami-related subjects found in Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste by O. G. Mouritsen and Klavs Styrbæk, Columbia University Press, 2014 is the use of fungi and bacteria to change the color, taste, texture and nutrient availability of food.
Fungi and bacteria listed include:
- Aspergillus glaucus for karebushi
- Aspergillus oryzae mixed with soybeans and grain to produce miso
- Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus sojae to produce shoyu (soy sauce)
- Bacillus subtilis natto for natto
- Rhizopas oryzae or Rhizopas oligosporus to make tempeh
For those of us who tend to compost anything that has unidentified organisms growing on it, utilizing fungi and bacteria to produce umami-rich food requires new skills in fungi and bacteria identification and management.
Per Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste extracts from green tea leaves have the amino acid theanine which is derived from glutamic acid and imparts umami.
If you appreciate Parmigiano-Reggiano, you will probably not be surprised to learn it is apparently rich in umami.
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese: Image by Dominik Hundhammer
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is so valuable it is subject to theft:
...Parmigiano-Reggiano has been the target of organized crime in Italy, particularly the Mafia or Camorra, which ambush delivery trucks on the Autostrada A1 in northern Italy between Milan and Bologna, hijacking the shipment. The cheese is ultimately sold in southern Italy. Between November 2013 and January 2015, an organized crime gang stole 2039 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano from warehouses in northern and central Italy....
Various species of algae are rich in umami. Palmaria palmata has a long history of being valued as a food source.
Palmaria palmata, also called dulse, dillisk or dilsk (from Irish/Scottish Gaelic duileasc/duileasg), red dulse, sea lettuce flakes, or creathnach, is a red alga (Rhodophyta) previously referred to as Rhodymenia palmata. It grows on the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is a well-known snack food. In Iceland, where it is known as söl, it has been an important source of dietary fiber throughout the centuries.
Palmaria palmata at Gilfach yr Halen, Ceredigion, Wales.
Information on how the yeast byproduct of beer brewing has been utilized is available from the selected pages pdf at the website of Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste:
...The famous German chemist Justus von Liebig (1803–1873) had earlier discovered that brewer’s yeast could be converted into a useful, nutritious substance. Based on his findings, the Gilmour family set up a factory to take advantage of the excess brewer’s yeast that would otherwise have been discarded. The yeast is hydrolyzed to release its free glutamate content, which is then mixed with salt, vegetable extracts, and other ingredients to produce a dark brown, sticky paste with a strong, salty taste.
About 2 percent of Marmite (1,960 mg/100 g) is made up of free glutamate, giving it an intense umami taste. In addition, as it has significant quantities of vitamin B, including folic acid (B9) and B12, the paste is a good source of this vital nutrient. After vitamins were first discovered and described scientifically in the early 1900s, Marmite quickly gained popularity. Beriberi, a disease caused by vitamin B deficiency, had been common in Britain during World War I, and Marmite was embraced as a way to prevent it. Its nutritional content was the very justifiable basis for a later marketing campaign that promoted the spread as a source of sufficient vitamin B to keep nerves, brain, and digestion in proper working order....
If you wish to expand your umami experiences beyond food Savory Cocktails: Sour Spicy Herbal Umami Bitter Smoky Rich Strong
by Greg Henry may be of interest:
Umami recipes include:
- Savory Tomato Juice
- Bloody Mary
- Sungold Zinger
- Truffle-Infused Cognac
- Silk and Gators
- Dog's Nose
- Black Pepper Oyster Shooters
- Pork and Beans
- Pickleback (Make Mine a Double)
- Homemade Spicy Dill Pickles and Brine