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Yeast extract: from yeast to tasty food
Everyone has heard the word “yeast” one day, or maybe yeast extract? In this article you will find everything you want to know about yeast extract: origin, components, uses, ….
Yeast is a unicellular fungus. This living microorganism has been used for centuries to make food by fermentation! Who hasn’t heard about baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast? Products such as bread, or beverages like wine and beer are processed everyday using yeast.
… to yeast extract
Yeast extract comes from yeast and is therefore a natural ingredient. No synthetic or chemical ingredients are added during its production. It keeps its natural attributes and organoleptic qualities throughout the whole manufacturing process. Indeed, its natural enzymes (1) cut yeast proteins into amino acids to isolate and solubilize the cell content. Thus, we obtain a yeast extract.
Yeast extract components
As it comes from a natural microorganism and is made through a natural process, yeast extract is a natural vegan ingredient. The major components of yeast extracts are proteins (61.2%!), amino acids (2), vitamins and minerals.
The main application of yeast extract: taste improvement
Its big potential as a culinary ingredient has been discovered during the 19th century and introduced in final product compositions during the 50’s. Nowadays it is used as a natural taste ingredient in the food industry for different applications, just like spices.
Yeast extract is a solution to bring taste to food products and to balance the overall flavours as well. We may define the yeast extract taste by introducing “umami”. This fifth taste (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness) describes a pleasant, mouth-filling, lingering taste. Depending on the yeast extract type and dosage, the taste can be “brothy”, “meaty”, “vegetable” or even “cheesy”: various tastes for many applications.
Moreover, yeast extract is everywhere! The most famous examples are certainly Marmite® and Vegemite®, famous for their strong and unique tastes in countries such as Australia or United Kingdom. Another widespread example would be the bouillon cube: a yeast extract-based ingredient that everybody has in the kitchen!
Finally, yeast extract is a great solution to bring meat flavour to vegetarian dishes. Using yeast extract is a good way to create meat substitutes with natural and animal-free ingredients. Great news since the number of vegetarian people increase every day and that naturality remains an important market trend.
More applications for yeast extract
You can go further than just bringing taste with yeast extract. By adding them to recipes, you don’t have to use as much salt as usual. Thus, it is a great natural solution for low-salt products. As you can reduce salt, you can also reduce sugar with yeast extract. Indeed, it is a good way to develop flavours such as cacao, vanilla, decreasing the sugar added. Yeast extract is also a good way to bring mouthfulness, body or richness to low fat product and keep good balance between pleasure and nutrition.
Finally, yeast extract is used for revealing tastes, bringing richness, smoothness or a specific signature to foodstuffs (soups, snacks, sauces, beverages, seasonings…). Yeast extract is a process resistant ingredient and can therefore be added to many different types of products (ready meals, frozen products, fresh processed products…). It allows healthier formulations by permitting salt, sugar and fat reduction, clean labelling, and suitable for vegan food.
(1) Enzymes: small proteins originating from living cells, capable of activation of organic reaction.
(2) Amino acids: unit of a protein chain.