I enjoy making as many things as I can from scratch; it likely comes from my childhood of having nothing but hunters and gardeners around me. The more I know about the foods that go in our bellies, the happier I am. Beyond hunting for our meat, we also forage for mushrooms, rosehips, and pine nuts when they’re in season, and one of these is my secret ingredient for homemade ranch. No, not the ranch dressing that’s semi-quasi-not-really-ranch, but a recipe that will surprise you with how close it tastes to the real thing.
I LOVE ranch, but the MSG loaded in it straight from the store tells you something… it’s likely why the majority of us want to pour it on everything we eat (yum, gimme more of that MSG). It is that MSG flavor that is hard to replicate; it’s also the reason why so many homemade ranch dressing recipes fail. You have to be able to mimic that MSG flavor, and guess what does that… mushrooms.
Mushrooms have glutamic acid, a fancy word for the same type of flavor you’d find in MSG; however, the difference is that the glutamic acid in mushrooms is natural and doesn’t contain the high sodium content that you’d find in MSG.
Note: Many foods contain some level of glutamate (as mentioned above), but certain foods, such as mushrooms, are glutamate-rich and may cause problems if you are sensitive to MSG. The amount of glutamate in mushrooms depends on the type. The Glutamate Association estimates that mushrooms contain about 180 milligrams of free glutamate per 100-gram serving. Shiitake and enokitake mushrooms are richest in glutamate. In comparison, the same serving of milk contains 2 grams of glutamate, and a 100-gram serving of Parmesan cheese contains 1,200 milligrams of glutamate.