Activity 11 – Fermentation of mushroom waste to produce umami extract


With the growing interest in plant based products, mushrooms have seen a multifold increase in consumption as well as an appreciation for their therapeutic values, it’s versatile texture and its unique flavour. They are high in protein, rich in phosphorus, iron, vitamin D and essential amino acids, calorie-restricted, almost fat free and high in nutritional fiber. Awareness of balanced nutritious diet and increase in the consumption of healthier foods across the world are major driving factors of the mounting global mushroom market. This applies also to the Canadian market. However, during the harvesting of mushrooms, a significant amount of mushroom waste is generated that is used as compost. Since all parts of the mushroom contains valuable nutrients, it is desirable to retrieve these nutrients in some form. One of the many techniques available to extract nutrients from food involves fermentation which has been used to enable biochemical changes via microorganisms and their by-products/enzymes.

 For instance, with shiitake mushrooms, many substances have been shown to contribute to the flavour of the mushroom including some amino acids. The term Umami is used to describe these flavours. Moreover, flavour compound (nucleotides) were found to be a significant component present in shiitake mushrooms that result in strong flavour modulation when combined with amino acids resulting in umami tastes.

In the food industry, MSG is used as a flavor enhancer for its widespread contribution of the umami taste. It is used to intensify the meatiness and savory aroma and taste of some processed meats, soups, stews and many other foods with its principal application in foods for flavor enhancement. Nonetheless, with the consumption of MSG, some individuals may display different degrees of sensitivity that may include asthmatic symptoms, headaches etc. One of the reasons for this occurrence may be that the glutamate in MSG is chemically similar to a natural neurotransmitter.

 Through the current project, we use the waste from mushroom farming, which will generate additional revenue for farms by creating an innovative value added natural alternative to MSG.


Principal investigator

Research Scientist

The Food Development Group
Unit1-1250B Reid St
Richmond Hill, ON, L4B 1G3


Owner, Hong Shing

195 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON


Research Scientist

Guelph Research and Development Centre-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
93 Stone Road West
Guelph, ON N1G 5C3



218 St-Nicolas
Napierville, Quebec, J0J 1L0


Research Scientist – Project Development and Site Manager at Harrow

AAFC-Harrow R&D Centre
2585 Essex County Rd 20, Harrow, ON N0R 1G0


Research Scientist – Testing biofertilizer on potato crops in Quebec and project development

AAFC- Quebec R&D Centre
2560 Hochelaga Boulevard, Québec, QC G1V 2J3


Soil Science Specialist – Testing biofertilizer on wheat crops in Normandin and project development

AAFC- Quebec R&D Centre, Normandin Research Farm
1468 Rue Saint-Cyrille, Normandin, Quebec G8M 4K3


The project aims to upcycle mushroom waste into value-added natural alternative (to MSG), which is extracted from mushrooms, optimized, and concentrated, and used as a food ingredient, by using fermentation technology.

  • Mushroom type selection for fermentation and pre- screening analysis.
  • Fermentation -Optimization. Lab scale development of optimal conditions for the fermentation of the mushrooms to produce Umami compounds.
  • Extraction and analysis of Umami compounds from mushrooms and comparison with commercial products.
  • Pilot Plant scale up fermentation production of Umami extract from mushrooms.
  • Application studies using Umami extract from fermented mushrooms in finished products.
  • Commercial scale up fermentation process to produce Umami extract from mushrooms.
  • Restaurant application and consumer feedback. Data analysis and final report.