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Umami and Mushrooms


What is Umami?


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Umami is the newsiest accepted of the five tastes the human tongue can detect, these five tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and the more recently recognized umami. This new taste called umami translates from its native Japanese into "savory", or "delicious flavor".

The long unrecognized taste of savory was first isolated by Japanese physics professor Kidnap Ikeda in 1909 who coined the name "umami". Many foods including mushrooms are naturally rich in the substances responsible for producing Umami flavor, these substances are called glutamates and nucleotides.

 Professor Ikeda isolated the glutamates responsible for the umami flavor from sea kelp and figured out how to manufacture a synthetic from of glutamate called monosodium glutamate, better known by its acronym MSG.


Umami & Mushrooms

shiitake mushrooms and umamiAll kinds of mushrooms contain the glutamates that produce the savory flavor of umami, but shiitake and porcini mushrooms have especially high levels of these amino acids. In addition to glutamates mushrooms are also rich in another flavor enhancing compound called nucleotides. These two umami producing compounds have a synergic effect on each other creating much more umami flavor than either one could alone.

Porcini and Shiitake mushroom powders can be used as a seasoning to add savory flavoring, or umami, to all kinds of foods without adding a distinct mushroom flavor. Porcini mushrooms like all mushrooms, are rich in the naturally occurring flavor enhancing compounds glutamates and nucleotides.

Porcini & Shiitake Mushrooms powder is especially effective in enhancing savory flavors when more than one kind of glutamate rich foods are combined. Try adding 1/4 teaspoon porcini powder, shiitake powder and soy sauce per cup of liquid to make a mild broth for soups and stews as a natural flavor enhancer that will not alter other flavors. Double those amounts to make a slightly stronger broth.

Umami Rich Foods

Many kinds of foods are rich in Umami flavor because of the glutamates that naturally occur in them. The food with the most umami is one that will be unfamiliar to most western cooks, but is used in Japanese cooking to make savory broths, such as dashi, without the use of meat.

Kombu, or sea kelp is almost 2.2% pure glutamates by dry weight making it an unusual pantry item in many western kitchens, but one worth considering. Two other top contenders are a bit more familiar and you many well have both soy sauce and parmesan cheese in your kitchen.

Both these umami rich foods are over 1% glutamates. Other umami rich foods include meats, fish, nuts, onions, grape juice, peas, mushrooms (especially shiitake and porcini), tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, yeast extract and green tea.


 Umami Recipes & Cooking Hints

The Japanese broth dashi, is a foundation in Japanese cooking and is made simply by dipping Kombu, or sea kelp into boiling water. The resulting broth is savory, fat free, and low in sodium.

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms


We sell high quality dried shiitake mushrooms starting at just $9.97 for a large 8 oz. bag or $2.17 for 1 oz!

Click here for more details.


Wild mushroom picking should be done only under the supervision of an expert who is absolutely certain they have an edible mushroom. Some mushrooms are deadly poisonous, and some poisonous mushrooms can easily be misidentified as edible mushrooms.




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Wild Mushroom Supply

Northwoods, IL.

Information on this page should not be used for identifying and consume wild mushrooms or in any way be taken as expert advice.


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