Mushrooms, the Ultimate Umami Experience
While few of us can define it, we've all had the "umami" experience. Umami is a taste sensation
found in some foods. The Japanese, who define umami as "deliciousness," have long
recognized it as a taste distinct from sweet, salty, bitter and sour–the fifth taste. It has been
further described as imparting a "robust," "savory" and at times "meaty" flavor to dishes.
What is it exactly that makes umami happen? Umami is both a basic taste and a flavor
enhancer produced by the presence of a specific chemical compound–free glutamate.
Glutamate is abundant in all mushrooms placing them high on the umami scale. The resulting
"meaty" flavor offered by mushrooms, along with their distinctive texture, explains why
they so successfully stand in for meat in vegetarian dishes. And with only 18-50 calories and
up to 350 mg potassium for 3 oz they are a wise choice!
(Information from the Mushroom Council)