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    New varieties of potatoes bred at SCRI, including Mayan Gold and Inca Sun, have better flavour than their more common relatives, thanks to their umami.

    Although perhaps not widely known, umami, from the Japanese word for delicious, is one of the five basic tastes along with sweet, sour, bitter and salt. It is umami that gives food its depth of flavour. The research has just been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

    Dr Mark Taylor of SCRI, Scotland’s leading crop research institute, who led the research, says the discovery is an important step in helping to create potatoes with better flavour.

    “There are several ways in which this will help us,” continued Mark. “First of all it’s really difficult when you are assessing flavour in a breeding programme. You cannot put everything through a taste panel as it is too expensive and time consuming but you can measure umami levels in it quite easily. It is a quantitative measure of whether it’s likely to taste good.