Did you Know that Starch can cause Umami?

New research points to starch as an umami food, which makes good sense, as carbohydrates form a significant part of our diet. “Starch” is the taste of complex carbohydrates and this taste may be the explanation why it isn’t easy for us to avoid carbohydrates.

“The reason why it could be evolutionarily advantageous to be able to taste starch should then be that it leads us towards an energy-rich diet. Just think of the body’s craving for carbs a few hours after the last meal – a feeling that some know as carb craving and others as being good old-fashioned bread crumbs” – Ole G. Mouritsen, who’s a gastrophysicist and professor at the interdisciplinary research and dissemination center.

The researchers found the new flavor by letting volunteers taste a variety of carbohydrates, and the volunteers then identified starch.

The characteristics of the basic flavors are that they can be alluring or repulsive. It’s some tastes that affect us in a direction; it can be motivating or warn us that the food may be immature or rotten. Humans possess 5 basic tastes: sour, salty, sweet, and bitter. The fifth is “umami”. Not everyone describes it as a basic taste, as it can be difficult to describe. Because of this, you often just use the four above. Umami causes a feeling of fullness, as well as satisfaction for the taste buds and often gives a bit of a “burn” or “meat” taste. Therefore, it’s also important to get on a plant-based diet in order to achieve complete satisfaction. You can add the umami flavor to a dish by adding, for example, mushrooms, tomatoes, yeast flakes, or nuts.

There’re not many vegetables that contain umami, but as soon as they’re cooked or fried, the taste comes out. This is something that generally applies; As soon as the food is fried, grilled, sautéed, or caramelized, we achieve an umami taste.

Celina, Rose & Kamilla
Københavns Professionshøjskole

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