Monosodium glutamate , or MSG ( monosodium glutamate ) is used in the food industry as a flavor enhancer . It has an umami flavor that intensifies the juicy and tasty flavor of foods, as occurs naturally in glutamate in foods such as stews and meat soups.
Monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid . The glutamate found naturally in food (parmesan, tomato, meat, breast milk, etc.) has the same composition as the glutamate added to processed foods. No evidence was found that it is bad for your health if consumed sparingly .
MSG does not decompose during cooking and, like other amino acids, exhibits a Maillard reaction (browning) in the presence of sugars at very high temperatures.
How is monosodium glutamate produced?
Monosodium glutamate was first produced in 1908 by Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda, who was trying to isolate and duplicate the salty taste of kombu, an edible seaweed used as a base for many Japanese soups.
Nowadays, instead of extracting and crystallizing monosodium glutamate from algae broth, MSG is produced by fermenting starch, sugar beet, sugar cane or molasses. This fermentation process is similar to that used to make yogurt, vinegar and wine.
The video below shows the production process of monosodium glutamate under the brand Aji-no-moto.
The monosodium glutamate production process has the following steps: (1) sugar cane or tapioca is converted into glucose; (2) glucose is fermented by bacteria that will produce glutamic acid; (3) sodium is added to neutralize glutamic acid, creating a solution of monosodium glutamate (MSG); (4) MSG is purified and filtered, producing a pure MSG solution; (5) MSG is crystallized and separated; (6) MSG crystals are dried and packaged
How to use monosodium glutamate in recipes?
Like table salt, monosodium glutamate increases our perception of pre-existing flavors. A pinch of monosodium glutamate in the tomato sauce causes the tomato flavor to intensify, just as a pinch of monosodium glutamate in a stew makes the meat taste more pronounced.
Monosodium glutamate harmonizes well with salty and sour flavors , but contributes little or nothing to sweet or bitter foods. Use it mainly with meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, soups, stews, egg dishes and sauces.
MSG is added to foods before or during cooking. Add it together with salt, pepper and other spices. Use about 1 teaspoon of MSG per pound of meat. For 4-6 servings of soup and vegetables, ½ teaspoon of monosodium glutamate is sufficient.
Like salt and sugar, the taste of monosodium glutamate is self-limiting – in excess, MSG impairs the taste of the food, rather than improving it. Only a small amount of monosodium glutamate is sufficient to enhance the taste of food.
For people who need to eat low sodium meals , monosodium glutamate can be a great substitute for salt. Salt is used to add flavor to a dish, but if it is replaced with MSG, the flavor of the dish will be enhanced without using too much salt.
Is monosodium glutamate bad for your health?
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified monosodium glutamate as a food ingredient that is ” generally recognized as safe”, but its use is still controversial . For this reason, when MSG is added to foods, the FDA requires it to be listed on the label.
MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. Over the years, the FDA has received many reports of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG. These reactions include: headache; sweat; facial pressure; redness of the face; numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas; fast and agitated heartbeat (heart palpitations); chest pain, nausea; weakness.
However, the researchers found no definitive evidence for a link between MSG and these symptoms. The researchers recognize, however, that a small percentage of people may have short-term reactions to MSG. Symptoms are usually mild and do not require treatment. The only way to avoid a reaction is to avoid foods that contain MSG.
Foods with monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate is added to various processed foods as a flavor enhancer. Some of the most common food sources of glutamate include:
- Soup, broth, bouillon cubes
- Seasonings for rice, meat and chicken, furikake
- Spiced snacks
- Soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce
- Miso, soy proteins
- Processed meat and fish, including ham
- Tomato and vegetable sauces
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Dog food
Some examples of products with monosodium glutamate:
- Healthy Ham
- Mortadela Ceratti
- Seara chicken pate
- Sardine Gomes da Costa fillets in tomato sauce
- Tomato sauce with Heinz pieces
- Kitano Garlic Sauce
- Maggi Caldo Sabor Galinha
- Knorr Onion Cream
- Nissin Ramen Instant Noodles Meat Flavor
- Ravioli with Light Meat Filling
- French Fries Flavor Barbecue Ruffles
- Cheetos Corn Curd Cheese Cheetos
- Qualitá Coconut Milk
- Purina Doguito Snack
Monosodium glutamate can be identified in the ingredient list by the number E621.
Which foods are naturally rich in glutamate?
- Parmesan cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Fish sauce | nam pla
- Soy sauce | shoyu
- Tomato paste
- Cured ham
- Anchovies and sardines
- Beef, chicken and shrimp
- English sauce | Worcestershire sauce
Does monosodium glutamate contain gluten?
No – glutamate or glutamic acid has nothing to do with gluten. A person with celiac disease may react to wheat that may be present in soy sauce, but not to monosodium glutamate in the product.
Is monosodium glutamate vegan?
Yes, MSG is vegan. Monosodium glutamate is extracted by fermenting starch from a plant: seaweed, sugar beet, sugar cane or molasses