Copyright © Barb Stuckey 2014

    SENSORY SNACKS & EXERCISES

    Isolating Umami

    To do this exercise, you will need to buy the pure form of umami, monosodium glutamate. You can find this under the brand name Accent, usually sold in the spice aisle. Since Accent (and all MSG) contains sodium (that’s the monosodium part of it), you’ll need to compare it against the same amount of sodium minus the umami. This would be salt.

    You can do this exercise with any type of salt, but most salt will vary slightly in terms of sodium content. If you use Morton salt, which I’m recommending due to its broad availability, I’ve done the calculations for you, below. If you use another salt, you’ll need to make sure that you’re tasting identical amounts of sodium in each mixture.
     

    You will need:

    • Table salt (not iodized)
    • Accent® flavor enhancer
    • 2 liquid cup measures
    • Spoons for tasting
    • measuring spoons

     

    Directions

    • Measure 1/8 teaspoon of salt into the first cup
    • Measure ¾ teaspoon of Accent into the second cup
    • Fill each cup with warm water to the 2/3 cup line
    • Stir both with a clean spoon until the powders are dissolved

     

    Taste

    • Taste the salt water first. It should taste salty, like warm ocean water or flavorless soup.
    • Taste the umami water next. You will taste salt, as you did with the salty water, but there’s another taste in this sample. That taste is umami. Notice how it tastes meatier and brothier than the salty water. Also notice that the flavor fills your mouth and lasts a long time. These are the flavor enhancing properties of umami.

     

    Discuss

    • Umami (as well as monosodium glutamate) occurs naturally in foods such as beef, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and seaweed.
    • Umami is also a critical flavor component of foods such as soup, ketchup, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
    • See if you can now pick out the taste of umami when you eat one of these foods.