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Osmazome vs. Umami: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 5, 2023
Osmazome is an outdated term for the flavorful substance in meat extracts, while Umami is a basic taste sensation often described as savory.

Key Differences

Osmazome was a term used historically in the culinary world to describe the primary flavor found in meat extracts. Umami, on the other hand, is a recognized fifth basic taste, joining sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, and is most commonly identified as a savory or meaty flavor.
The concept of Osmazome predates the discovery and understanding of umami, and was often attributed to the rich, savory flavor present in broths and gravies. Umami, however, has since been recognized scientifically and is attributed to the presence of certain amino acids and nucleotides, like glutamate.
While Osmazome was a more nebulous term without a clear chemical identity, Umami has a specific biochemical basis. It's the taste sensation that occurs with the presence of glutamate, a type of amino acid, in foods.
Osmazome has largely fallen out of common usage as culinary and scientific understanding has progressed. Umami remains a central term in both culinary arts and nutritional science, describing a distinct taste found in various foods beyond just meat, such as tomatoes and fermented products.
Both Osmazome and Umami point to the unique and sought-after savory flavor present in many dishes. However, while Osmazome was an early attempt to name this sensation, Umami has taken its place with a clearer, more grounded definition.

Comparison Chart


Historically described meaty flavor in extracts.
A basic taste sensation described as savory.


Culinary history.
Japanese term, recognized globally.

Chemical Basis

Not clearly defined.
Glutamate and certain nucleotides.

Common Usage

Outdated, rarely used now.
Widely used in culinary and nutritional fields.

Associated Foods

Mostly meat extracts.
Meats, tomatoes, fermented products, and more.

Osmazome and Umami Definitions


The essence of meaty taste.
Osmazome was often cited in old cookbooks to explain rich flavors.


One of the five basic taste sensations.
Umami, along with sweet and salty, defines our taste palette.


A precursor concept to Umami.
Before Umami's recognition, Osmazome was used to describe savory tastes.


A flavor attributed to glutamate presence.
The Umami in tomatoes comes from their natural glutamate content.


Historical term for meat extract flavor.
People once believed that Osmazome was the primary source of flavor in broths.


Taste found in various foods beyond meat.
Fermented products are known for their distinct Umami taste.


A term without clear chemical identity.
Unlike Umami, Osmazome wasn't linked to specific amino acids or compounds.


A term originating from Japan.
Umami is a Japanese word that has been adopted globally.


An outdated culinary term.
Modern chefs rarely refer to Osmazome in their recipes.


The savory taste in food.
Mushrooms and soy sauce have a strong Umami flavor.


A substance formerly supposed to impart the characteristic meaty smell and taste to certain dishes.


A taste sensation produced by the presence of glutamates and nucleotides and associated with meats and other high-protein foods. It is sometimes considered to be a fifth basic taste along with the tastes sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.


A substance formerly supposed to give to soup and broth their characteristic odor, and probably consisting of one or several of the class of nitrogenous substances which are called extractives.


One of the five basic tastes, the savory taste of foods such as seaweed, cured fish, aged cheeses and meats.


What compounds contribute to the taste of Umami?

The Umami taste is attributed to the presence of glutamate and certain nucleotides in foods.

Is Osmazome still a commonly used term?

Osmazome has largely fallen out of common usage, replaced by a clearer understanding of Umami.

What is Osmazome?

Osmazome is an outdated term that historically described the flavorful substance in meat extracts.

How is Umami defined?

Umami is defined as one of the five basic taste sensations, often described as savory or meaty.

Can Osmazome be considered an early understanding of Umami?

Yes, Osmazome can be viewed as a precursor concept to Umami, attempting to describe the savory flavor in meats.

Is Umami exclusive to non-vegetarian dishes?

No, Umami is present in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, with various foods like tomatoes and certain cheeses exhibiting this taste.

Did Osmazome have a clear chemical identity?

No, Osmazome was a nebulous term without a defined chemical identity.

How do chefs today use the concept of Umami?

Chefs use the concept of Umami to enhance flavors and bring a savory depth to their dishes, utilizing ingredients known for their Umami profile.

Are there foods other than meats that have an Umami flavor?

Yes, aside from meats, foods like tomatoes, mushrooms, and fermented products also exhibit Umami flavors.

How has the culinary world's understanding of Osmazome evolved?

With advancements in culinary and scientific knowledge, the vague term Osmazome has been replaced with the more specific and understood term, Umami.

Was Osmazome associated only with meat extracts?

Primarily, yes. Osmazome was predominantly used to describe the flavor in meat extracts.

Are there modern equivalents to Osmazome?

Not really. The term Osmazome has been largely overshadowed by the more scientifically understood concept of Umami.

From which culture does the term Umami originate?

Umami originates from Japanese culture but is now recognized globally.

Can we say that all foods with Osmazome have an Umami taste?

It's plausible, as Osmazome described a meaty flavor which aligns with the description of Umami. However, the term Osmazome was less precise than our modern understanding of Umami.

Is there a direct translation for Umami in English?

Not precisely. While "savory" is often used, Umami is a unique taste sensation not entirely captured by any single English word.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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