The term ‘glutamate’ refers to salts produced by glutamic acid, which are found throughout most food and organic matter in general. However, they generally occur in low
concentrations, or locked up inside protein chains, where they have no effect on
flavour. When glutamates occur in their ‘free’ form, they are responsible for the ‘fifth
taste’, umami; the deep, mouthwatering savoury flavour in stocks, broths and
fermented food. Umami has been called both the “Holy Grail” and the “God Particle”
of flavour because of its unique effect on human taste receptors.
Foods containing a significant concentration of free glutamates are relatively few.
Parmesan, sardines and marmite for example, all of which pack quite a flavour
punch. However, nowhere are these free glutamates more naturally abundant than in