Kikunae Ikeda

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Kikunae Ikeda
Kikunae Ikeda.jpg
Born Kikunae Ikeda
8 October 1864
Genji Era in Kyoto Japan
Died 3 May 1936 (aged 71)
Ethnicity Japanese
Education Science Faculty of the Tokyo Imperial University

Kikunae Ikeda (池田 菊苗 Ikeda Kikunae?, 8 October 1864 – 3 May 1936) was a Japanese chemist and Tokyo Imperial University professor of Chemistry who, in 1908, uncovered the chemical basis of a taste he named umami. It is one of the five basic tastes along with sweet, bitter, sour and salty.

In 1908 at the Tokyo Imperial University in Japan, Professor Ikeda Kikunae was eating dinner with his family when he suddenly stopped. That day his cucumber soup was more delicious than normal; after stirring a few times he realized the difference was the umami flavor from the addition of kelp. He understood that kelp was the secret to that flavor, and from that day on he studied the chemical composition of kelp. After half a year of research he discovered that the flavor of kelp is derived from sodium glutamate. This chemical, sodium glutamate, is the chemical basis for the umami flavor. Ikeda Kikunae termed the chemical "monosodium glutamate". Later in life, he also discovered a method to extract monosodium glutamate from wheat and defatted soybean. With this method the global production of monosodium glutamate increased rapidly. He also patented the manufacture of monosodium glutamate.

He discovered the common chemical responsible for the flavor of meat, seaweed and tomatoes was glutamate, and is responsible for the flavor of "umami".

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