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Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in Home Cooking


Chris Amirault
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Does anyone know the shelf-life of MSG powder with respect to its potency?

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Does anyone know the shelf-life of MSG powder with respect to its potency?

Good question! I have a jar in my spice cupboard that I can't recall buying. :huh:

I made meatloaf last night and now I'm thinking the MSG would have added that little bit of something extra to make it taste even better.

edited to add: Is MSG always something to cook with? Has anyone sprinkled it on after plating? Or does it's umami effect only take place when cooked?

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

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Does anyone know the shelf-life of MSG powder with respect to its potency?

Good question! I have a jar in my spice cupboard that I can't recall buying. :huh:

I made meatloaf last night and now I'm thinking the MSG would have added that little bit of something extra to make it taste even better.

edited to add: Is MSG always something to cook with? Has anyone sprinkled it on after plating? Or does it's umami effect only take place when cooked?

As to whether MSG loses its potency, I don't think so. It's not like herbs.

MSG should not be added after plating! :shock: It must be mixed in and cooked with the food before plating. It is meant to enhance and not upfront flavour.

MSG comes in different "sizes" - some look like tiny strands of crystal, and others may be fine powder form. It's cheapest to buy in packets from Asian stores. Accent used to come in small shakers and they were very expensive!

Dejah

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My mother would disown me if she thought i used MSG in my cooking, it's definitely cheating in her book. For that reason I've never used it and have never found the temptation to either. It would take all the fun out of buying good ingredients and preparing them with care and skill.

I get enough MSG eating out, i don't feel the need to replicate that restaurant taste at home.

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Why would it "take all the fun out of buying good ingredients and preparing them with care and skill"? I don't understand why this particular ingredient inspires such a comment. Would you say the same about salt?

Chris Amirault

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My mother would disown me if she thought i used MSG in my cooking, it's definitely cheating in her book.  For that reason I've never used it and have never found the temptation to either.  It would take all the fun out of buying good ingredients and preparing them with care and skill. 

I get enough MSG eating out, i don't feel the need to replicate that restaurant taste at home.

I'm with Chris on your comment.

I have lots of fun buying good ingredients and preparing them with care and skill, and I still use MSG. This ingredient is not meant to replace quality, care, and skill; it is meant to enhance flavour.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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...

Doesn't it occur naturally in Soy sauce? (I do use that occasionally.)

Yes.

In 1908 a Japanese scientist, Kikunae Ikeda, identified “umami”, now officially accepted as the fifth taste (in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter), attributing its essential character to the amino acid glutamate, which is harnessed commercially in the seasoning msg, but is often produced naturally in foods such as soy sauce, which are matured and fermented.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_...icle2423100.ece

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I love Sazon the little packets of flavor ..they do wonders for many dishes and they are mostly msg with a tiny bit of spice added ....

I also use regular msg

to me the best use of this is to add it at the end of seasoning and just to pull the flavors together and enhance goodness

I love it..use it ...and find it a nice finish to curries, Asian food, Hispanic food ..and even regular pot roast soups whatever ...

small doses go a long way however so I am careful about adding it!

side note ....I had kept a container of MSG on the counter for years same container style I kept sugar in ... and one time in a thoughtless moment used a cup of it to sweeten a batch of lemonade ...that is NOT an appropriate use of this substance trust me on this :shock:

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It's probably an ingrained and irrational response on my behalf. Like i said i've never used it in my cooking so i don't really have an objective reason to dislike it. I suppose i fear that if i start, i may end up putting it in every dish. But as your opener stated Chris, this topic is not about the ethics of using it so i should zip it... now! :rolleyes:

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I am in favour of judicious msg use but I use very little of the stuff, the 5 year old 1 ounce jar of Accent on my spice rack bears mute witness to that fact.

A long departed elder relative who was illiterate, but has over 1000 Chinese, western and pastry recipes rolling around in his head pounded into me that frequent and over use of msg (and products like Maggi, oyster sauce) was a crutch for inferior cooks. I don't necessarily subscribe to that theory, but there is a small kernel of veracity to his admonishment. But I did take to heart his encouragement to do things the long way; if I were to make soup, then make a good rich stock first or at least use a lot of animal base, if I were to make a "stew" where meat was the main ingredient there needs to be no enhancement other than a touch of sugar, proper combinations of quality ingredients can and will "enhance" the taste and flavour of a chowed dish, almost all of the Chinese dishes involving strong flavours like fu yu, dow see, haam ha etc. need no enhancement...

I don't mind msg in food if someone else cooks it :biggrin: , but I personally don't use it much in cooking. Now, flavoured salty snacks and junk food is a whole 'nuther matter. :laugh:

Edited by Ben Hong (log)
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side note ....I had kept a container of MSG on the counter for years same container style I kept sugar in ... and one time in a thoughtless moment used a cup of it to sweeten a batch of lemonade ...that is NOT an appropriate use of this substance trust me on this  :shock:

I don't know... you could have claimed that you were influenced by the flavor of fruit with umami, like rambutan (mmmmm). Maybe you should have still added the sugar and seen what happened then! :biggrin:

That brings up an interesting question... do people use MSG in sweet, and not just savory, dishes?

Edited by feedmec00kies (log)

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I keep a large jar of msg next to the stove and use a pinch or two in most all savory foods. I think it enhances soups and stews especially. It pushes the umami buttons much as parmesan cheese does, but without adding any flavor of it's own. Never tried it in anything sweet.

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I'm reading Michael Ruhlman's book The Elements of Cooking (Love that my librarian loves food and cookbooks.). In his Notes on Cooking section he's surprised that Madeleine Kamman puts a Knorr bouillon cube in her veal stock. She tells him over the phone that the salt and MSG add a greater depth of flavor.

Both sides of my family never used it in cooking and then the MSG scare came along. So we got in the habit of saying "No MSG please." at restaurants.

I should buy a bit of it just to try it. Then I'll know for myself.

Interesting thread.

Edited by Susie Q (log)
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Has anyone sprinkled it on after plating? Or does it's umami effect only take place when cooked?

I've seen it on the table in rural Northern Vietnam, used along with chili sauce to dose bowls of pho to one's liking. I've also dipped boiled eggs and raw cucumbers in a mix of msg, salt, and pepper on motorcycle trips there.

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I used to pour about a teaspoon into the palm of my hand, and slowly lick up the crystals. They feel weird in the teeth - harder than salt or sugar - and the best way I could describe the taste is 'meaty'.

My folks rarely used their little jar of Accent, so imagine their surprise when it ran out..... :laugh:

Its good in the dressing for a chinese chicken salad, but I hadnt thought of using it in anything else. I think I'll add a pinch when I reheat that lacking-something beef stew in the freezer.

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Because I was surprised to find that I had used up all the duck stock I had in the fridge when I got home from the store tonight, I had to make a quick vegetable stock for my risotto. (Yes, I know: it's not ideal.) I browned mirepoix, added shiitake mushroom stems, a smidge of anchovy paste, S&P, and water, then, just before adding it to the night's risotto, added about 1/2 t of MSG. It added that meatiness without the excessive salt of a bouillon cube, keeping the quick stock pretty clean tasting.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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... if I were to make a "stew" where meat was the main ingredient there needs to be no enhancement other than a touch of sugar...

Wait, you mean to tell us that MSG is not an acceptable 'enhancement', but sugar is? I don't get this post. Please, explain further, how sugar is somehow acceptable in these recipes but MSG is not.

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Yesterday i made a huge amount of stock, and did a very interesting experiment.

I make my stock saltless so i can use it in sauces and whatnot.

So, i took some stock, added salt to taste, and tasted it. Yummy!

Added salt and about the same amount of MSG to another portion, even YUMMIER! In fact much better. It tastes richer and chickenier, just better.

You should do this small experiment. You'll be convinced.

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Yesterday i made a huge amount of stock, and did a very interesting experiment.

I make my stock saltless so i can use it in sauces and whatnot.

So, i took some stock, added salt to taste, and tasted it. Yummy!

Added salt and about the same amount of MSG to another portion, even YUMMIER! In fact much better. It tastes richer and chickenier, just better.

You should do this small experiment. You'll be convinced.

I've done the same sort of experiment with bbq rubs and MSG does enhance the flavor.

Edited by fiftydollars (log)
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side note ....I had kept a container of MSG on the counter for years same container style I kept sugar in ... and one time in a thoughtless moment used a cup of it to sweeten a batch of lemonade ...that is NOT an appropriate use of this substance trust me on this  :shock:

I don't know... you could have claimed that you were influenced by the flavor of fruit with umami, like rambutan (mmmmm). Maybe you should have still added the sugar and seen what happened then! :biggrin:

That brings up an interesting question... do people use MSG in sweet, and not just savory, dishes?

you know how you know just before you do it you are doing something that is going to be a mistake ..I poured a big glass of this lemonade and started to down it ..a jackhammer hit my unami buttons that is for sure!!!!

I did try to put it in a fruit salad one time and it was awful..but I that lemonade incident also made me repelled by fruitiness and msg as well so who knows... I dont think I like it with anything sweet actually it is for sure a savory enhancer

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Yesterday i made a huge amount of stock, and did a very interesting experiment.

I make my stock saltless so i can use it in sauces and whatnot.

So, i took some stock, added salt to taste, and tasted it. Yummy!

Added salt and about the same amount of MSG to another portion, even YUMMIER! In fact much better. It tastes richer and chickenier, just better.

You should do this small experiment. You'll be convinced.

I agree. I wrote about some experiments with MSG in the Daily Gullet a few years ago (scroll down for the section on MSG). Here's part of what I said:

Next, I tried some experiments with chicken stock. Adding a pinch of MSG to my unreduced stock made it taste more brothy -- that is, more like reduced stock. After reducing and defatting the stock, I tried another sample with MSG. This tasted a bit more meaty than the plain stock, but again what I most noticed was the mouthfeel: rich and smooth on the tongue, almost as if it wasn't defatted (but in a good way). Then, to this sample, I added a tiny pinch of salt. I was on to something. The combination of salt and MSG rounded out the broth, giving me a rich texture and a complex, chicken-y flavor.

and

Similarly, a pinch of MSG boosted the meaty flavor and full texture of a Bolognese-style meat-and-tomato sauce. Again, a pinch of salt really boosted the effects of the MSG and, naturally, brought out the flavor of the tomatoes. MSG alone did virtually nothing for the flavor of either cooked or raw tomatoes. It did, however, seem to intensify the flavor of the sauteed mushrooms I added to the sauce.
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After several bad msg experiences in restaurants, I concluded I had developed a sensitivity to it (after lo these many years) and, as I eat in Asian restaurants of various stripes routinely, I was freaked out about it. So I decided to buy some msg and gradually introduce small amounts into my food, thinking to build up an 'immunity' to the uncomfortable affects so I could continue to enjoy the foods it is typically found in without worry. I've been doing this for ~6 months now and either I've been lucky or it's working. In all that time I've had only one fairly mild episode and the duration was shorter.

Oh and of course it makes just about everything it touches (save for, apparently, lemonade) taste better, so there's that.

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I haven't experimented with MSG, but often look for natural sources of glutamate to boost that savory feeling (the day that I can say "umami" without cracking up is on it's way, but it's not here yet!)

For example, when I make beef/veal stock, I throw in a few tomatoes ... not enough to add the flavor of tomatoes, but enough that by the time stock is reduced to any kind of glace, it will contribute that little extra something. like the meatiness you get from a sun dried tomato.

Similarly a lot of people use anchovie paste, or seaweed. There are foods that seem to contribute much more glutamate than they do any distinct flavor.

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