Most people living in the UK or Australia have heard about yeast extract already – it is popoular 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.
What is the difference between fresh yeast and yeast extract?
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.
What is in yeast extract?
In which foods yeast extract is used?
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 rarely available for consumers in the supermarkets, but is almost used exclusively by food producers to season their products.
Is yeast extract a new discovery in the food production process?
Because of its special and unique taste yeast extract has been used as an ingredient in food products for approximately the past 50 years. However, the basic ingredient for yeast extract, the 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 and useful ingredient in food production.
Is yeast extract suitable for the vegetarian cuisine?
Yes, although the taste is very similar to that of a meat bouillon, yeast extract does not contain ingredients from animal origin and is therefore suitable for vegetarian dishes.
How can yeast extract contribute to lowering the salt content?
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.
Why can’t I buy yeast extract in the supermarket like a spice?
If you live in the UK or one of its commonwealth countries you can buy yeast extract in the form of a spread that is mainly used on sandwiches. However, in most other countries yeast extract is hard to find – only some specialised food stores, organic and health food stores list e.g. yeast extract spreads. No yeast extract shaker can be found in the supermarket as yeast extracts in powder form attract moisture too easily to be convenient for use for consumers. Yeast extract with its savoury taste is therefore almost exclusively used by food producers like a spice to round off their products.
How is yeast extract labelled in the ingredient list?
Yeast extract is labelled as “yeast extract” in the ingredients list or sometimes included in “natural flavour”. Both names are based on the requirements of the European Food Law.
How much yeast extract is used in foods?
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 approximately 1%.