Monosodium glutamate (MSG, also known as sodium glutamate) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids. Glutamic acid is found naturally in tomatoes, grapes, cheese, mushrooms and other foods.
MSG is used in the food industry as a flavor enhancer with an umami taste that intensifies the meaty, savory flavor of food, as naturally occurring glutamate does in foods such as stews and meat soups. It was first prepared in 1908 by Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda, who was trying to isolate and duplicate the savory taste of kombu, an edible seaweed used as a base for many Japanese soups. MSG as a flavor enhancer balances, blends, and rounds the perception of other tastes.
Pure MSG is reported to not have a pleasant taste until it is combined with a savory aroma. The basic sensory function of MSG is attributed to its ability to enhance savory taste-active compounds when added in the proper concentration. The optimum concentration varies by food; in clear soup, the pleasure score rapidly falls with the addition of more than one gram of MSG per 100 mL.
The sodium content (in mass percent) of MSG, 12%, is about one-third of that in sodium chloride (39%), due to the greater mass of the glutamate counterion. Although other salts of glutamate have been used in low-salt soups, they are less palatable than MSG.
|Appearance||White crystalline powder|