While salt and sugar can technically be considered flavorants that enhance salty and sweet tastes, usually only compounds that enhance umami, as well as other secondary flavors are considered taste flavorants. Artificial sweeteners are also technically flavorants.
Umami or “savory” flavorants, more commonly called taste or flavor enhancers are largely based on Amino acids and Nucleotides. These are manufactured as sodium or calcium salts. Umami flavorants recognized and approved by the European Union include:
- Glutamic acid salts: This amino acid’s sodium salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is one of the most commonly used flavor enhancers in food processing. Mono and diglutamate salts are also commonly used.
- Glycine salts: A simple amino acid that is usually used in conjunction with glutamic acid as a flavor enhancer.
- Guanylic acid salts: Nucleotide salts that is usually used in conjunction with glutamic acid as a flavor enhancer.
- Inosinic acid salts: Nucleotide salts created from the breakdown of AMP. Due to high costs of production, it is usually used in conjunction with glutamic acid as a flavor enhancer.
- 5′-ribonucleotides salts:
Certain organic acids can be used to enhance sour tastes, but like salt and sugar these are usually not considered and regulated as flavorants under law. Each acid imparts a slightly different sour or tart taste that alters the flavor of a food.
- Acetic acid: gives vinegar its sour taste and distinctive smell
- Citric acid: found in citrus fruits and gives them their sour taste
- Lactic acid: found in various milk products and give them a rich tartness
- Malic acid: found in apples and gives them their sour/tart taste
- Tartaric acid: found in grapes and wines and gives them a tart taste