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Yeast extract - a natural ingredient in food production and in the home

20 December 2017

Yeast extract has been used as a seasoning in the preparation of food for decades - for example in home cooking as an ingredient in instant stock, or in food production to perfect the taste of many savoury foodstuffs and meals.

Yeast extract is a versatile ingredient that emphasises the taste of sausage, meat and fish dishes, yet is also very suitable for seasoning vegetarian or vegan dishes being free of any animal-derived components. More and more health-aware and climate-conscious consumers are either abstaining from eating meat or reducing their meat consumption, but do not want to give up that characteristic hearty taste entirely. Thanks to the valuable components from yeast cells that are retained in yeast extract, it is a perfect natural replacement for meat stocks, which traditionally play a role in the preparation of many dishes.

Alongside sauces and soups, other such preparations include hearty vegetarian spreads, which are also gaining in popularity among non-vegetarians. Natural yeast extract rounds off the different tastes in a dish, and has the particular advantage of emphasising tastes that are perceived to be pleasant. Upon comparing the taste profile of two vegetable stocks that were prepared with and without yeast extract accordingly, it becomes evident that the stock with yeast extract tastes stronger of bouillon and has more depth of taste. At the same time, the often dominant taste of celery and a metallic aftertaste recede into the background. As a result, the taste of the vegetable stock with yeast extract is perceived as more balanced.

In the development of recipes for food production, varying amounts of yeast extract are added: if it is only being added to complement the taste of a dish, then yeast extract is used sparingly. If the rich, brothy taste which makes many vegetarian dishes so flavoursome is desired then a great deal more is added. In any case, in the finished dish the yeast extract content is low comparable to that of the spices added.

The taste properties of yeast extract offer another advantage: many consumers try to reduce their salt intake for health reasons. Food manufacturers also want to offer recipes with a low salt content without impairing the taste of their products. Yeast extract can give such products with reduced salt content the desired depth of taste and hearty notes. Similarly, nutritionists also recommend that consumers use more aromatic herbs and spices in their cooking, with the result that less salt is required.