Vegetarian and vegan cuisine: yeast extract provides savoury flavour
In recent years, the number of people who make a conscious decision to exclude animal-based foods or products from their lives, in other words to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, has risen dramatically, and as a consequence the variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes has greatly expanded too. In order for these dishes to work and do justice to our high expectations of how food should taste, it is particularly important to understand that there is never one ingredient that can replace the texture and mouthfeel, the smell and aroma, and the visual appreciation of certain foods. So, food manufacturers have to choose ingredients that provide a special taste experience. “Yeast extract fulfils this requirement in a completely natural way. It not only lends dishes an intensive taste, but also highlights their natural aromas. As a result, yeast extract is a true insider’s tip for vegetarian and vegan cuisine,” declares Manuel Lynch, Founder of the Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy.
“What makes yeast extract so special is its characteristic natural flavour, because it actually is a natural taste you could find in the real world. The taste is so intensive that all it takes is a quarter of a teaspoon of yeast extract to create a flavour explosion in, for example, a seasonal salad,” explains Lynch. “This unique flavour is down to the umami components that yeast extract contains, which are also found in ripe tomatoes, mushrooms and matured foods like Parmesan cheese.” The taste is best compared with that of a strong meat-based stock. It is this that allows yeast extract to provide the necessary seasoning and a strong flavour in vegan and vegetarian dishes without recourse to any animal-based products at all. “We find that yeast and yeast extract are on the forefront of a bold movement in food,” commented Manuel Lynch. “They are key components to help us teaching chefs and food companies how to make foods that make it easy for people to move to healthier ways of eating. We all know we need to eat healthy food, yeast extracts make that so much easier.”
Vegan and vegetarian products are usually made using vegetable proteins such as peas, soy, rice, wheat and most recently Potato Protein. They are often associated with a so-called ‘off taste’. This means that the particular food seems to have a metallic or bitter taste. Yeast extract counteracts this by blocking the human taste receptors and thus preventing the molecules responsible for creating this unpleasant taste from interacting. The metallic or bitter taste therefore has no chance to develop, and that’s how yeast extract prevents the formation of an ‘off taste’.
The following recipe is an ideal example of how yeast extract complements vegetarian cuisine.
Courgette muffins with yeast extract (ingredients for 12 muffins)
- 1 courgette
- 300g flour
- 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- 1-2 teaspoon vegetable stock with yeast extract
- 50ml vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup yoghurt (= 150g)
- 1 cup sour cream (= 150g)
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 20g cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
For the dough: Wash and coarsely grate the courgette, then squeeze the water out. Thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock with yeast extract. Whisk the egg into the yoghurt, then stir in the yeast extract mixture and the courgette. Spread the dough into muffin moulds laid out on a baking tray. Cook the muffins in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
For the dip: Combine the sour cream and the tomato purée. Wash the fresh tomatoes, cut them into small cubes and add them to the dip. Then season the dip to taste with the chilli flakes, the vegetable stock with yeast extract and a little sugar. Serve the muffins hot or cold along with the dip.
Manuel Lynch is founder of the Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy, one of the world’s leading cooking schools teaching how to use yeast extract. Further information about the academy can be found on www.vegangastronomy.com.