FAQs about yeast extract

Most people living in the UK or Australia have heard about yeast extract already – it is popular to use it as a spread on sandwiches. In other European countries people do not have a clear understanding of yeast extract. We have answered the most frequently asked questions below.

Yeasts are truly a natural all-rounder and essential for the production of common foods. They occur in nature as wild yeasts everywhere and are bred as culture yeasts with specific properties. Fresh yeast has been used for thousands of years to make bread and beer and is also essential for making wine. Yeast extract is also made from fresh yeast. Enzymes break down the proteins that are present in the yeast cell into smaller components and disintegrate the cell wall so that the content dissolves out of the cell. The remaining cell walls are removed by centrifugation. In simple terms, yeast extract is made up of proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals from the yeast cell without the surrounding cell wall.

Yeast extract is a natural ingredient composed of a variety of amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and is rich in high-quality proteins. Its base fresh yeast provides a rich blend of natural components. Although yeast extract is not made up of any animal ingredients, the taste is similar to that of a meat bouillon. This is because many of the same taste giving amino acids are present in both yeast extract and meat bouillons.

Yeast extract contains around 65% of protein. Its origin, natural yeast, is composed of a rich mix of proteins and amino acids that are also found in yeast extract.

Yeast extract is used in many products available in the supermarket. It is used for instance to refine sauces, bouillons, soups, meat dishes, ready meals and savoury snacks. In the commonwealth countries it is common to put a savoury yeast extract spread on their sandwiches. In other countries yeast extract is available for consumers in supermarkets and organic food shops.

Yeast extract has been used as an ingredient in food products for approximately the past 75 years. However, the basic ingredient for yeast extract, fresh yeast, has been used for thousands of years to make bread and beer. Combining ingredients and influencing taste is what cooking is all about. Yeast extract not only adds taste, but also brings out and balances flavours in products, just like herbs and spices do. That’s why today, yeast extract is a very popular ingredient in food production and food manufacturing.

Yes. Even though it provides a meaty taste to food, yeast extract does not contain ingredients from animal origin and is therefore suitable for vegetarian and vegan dishes. Read more …

Thanks to its rich mix of protein compounds, yeast extract has an aromatic taste of its own. This brings a delicious, savoury note to foods, even those with a low salt content. It has an effect similar to that of a spice and thus helps to lower the salt content without loss of flavour. Nutritional experts advise a similar approach when they recommend using aromatic herbs in order to facilitate with less salt in the kitchen.

Yeast extract, used with a primary function of flavouring in foods, can be labelled as “yeast extract” or “natural flavouring” in the list of ingredients. If yeast extract is added to food for nutritional purposes, then “yeast extract” is a generally accepted customary name that can be included in the list of ingredients. Read more …

As yeast extract has an aromatic taste of its own, it is used only in small quantities – just like other seasoning ingredients. On average, the concentration of yeast extract in dishes is 1%.

Glutamic acid is one of the components (amino acids) present in every natural protein and is therefore also one of the many components of yeast extract.

About 5 % of glutamic acid is present in yeast extract. In comparison with other foods we consume daily – including tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese, the glutamic acid level of yeast extract is therefore very low. For instance, one tomato contains approximately twice the amount of glutamic acid present in 200 ml of yeast extract flavoured bouillon.

The human body also produces glutamic acid – both in saliva and breast milk, and it plays a functional role in our metabolism. Read more …

No, yeast extract is a natural ingredient which also contains the amino acid glutamic acid, which is also present in many other food, such as tomato or cheese. It contributes to a savoury taste. The taste of yeast extract is similar to that of a homemade bouillon. Yeast extract is added to food to impart flavour and meets the definition of ‘flavouring preparation’. This is not to be confused with Monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is purified 100 per cent sodium salt of glutamate and under EU regulations must be declared as additive. Different to yeast extract, MSG does not have a taste of its own und is only used to make existing flavours stronger.