Frequently Asked Questions

Okay, tell me. What really is yeast extract?2020-12-09T12:57:55-05:00

Yeast extract, or the essence of yeast, is an all-natural taste enhancer. The staple ingredient has been used by chefs for more than half a century as a savory seasoning in many foods including soups, meats, crackers, snack foods, and ready-to-eat meals like macaroni and cheese. Yeast itself has been used for thousands of years to make bread, beer, and wine. Yeast extract replaces salt, enhances flavor, and strengthens the cooking and baking process. With a concentrated flavor called “umami” – which means savory in Japanese – yeast extract is a versatile and welcome flavoring in vegetarian dishes, since it contains no ingredients from animal origin.

What is yeast extract used for?2020-12-09T12:58:17-05:00

Yeast extract, used in very small amounts, adds taste to a wide assortment of foods by bringing out and balancing flavors in them – just like herbs and spices do. For people who don’t eat meat products, yeast extract provides a good option for robust, full-flavored meaty taste.

Who uses yeast extract? Can I buy it in the store, so I can use it in my kitchen?2022-05-04T14:04:21-04:00

In the U.S., yeast extract, like many other food ingredients like potato starch and rosemary extracts, isn’t generally sold as a stand-alone ingredient. You can find it in some specialized food stores. When it is found in specialty stores, yeast extract is usually packaged as a spread in products like Marmite and Vegemite. Many home chefs and bakers can also purchase Marmite and Vegamite online. Typically, food producers and restaurants add very small amounts of yeast extract to add savory flavor to prepared foods.

Is yeast extract artificial?2020-12-09T12:59:04-05:00

Absolutely not. In fact, the process to manufacture yeast extract is completely natural. It is derived from the same yeast that is used in the production of bread, beer, and wine, and produced without the use of synthetic or artificial ingredients. These yeasts are non-GMO.

So, in addition to being a rich source of vitamins and proteins, yeast extract’s versatility is attractive to a wide range of chefs who use it in soups, stews, meats, and sauces to provide a delicious, savory flavor – just like they use other ingredients including herbs, spices, and vinegar to bring out the flavors, aromas, and tastes in their dishes.

Since yeast extract is an ingredient, the only way it is present in food is if people deliberately include it, right?2020-12-09T12:59:22-05:00

Not at all. First, yeast extract is the most natural of ingredients, so it’s not an additive in the traditional sense. The basic ingredient for yeast extract, fresh yeast, has been used for thousands of years to make bread, beer, and wine.

One of the elements present in yeast extract is glutamic acid which is naturally occurring in many foods, including cheese, tomatoes, peas, and mushrooms. It even occurs naturally in our saliva and in breast milk. In fact, homemade lasagna with ground beef, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese contains hundreds of times as much glutamic acid as you would find in a bowl of soup seasoned with yeast extract.

People say that food companies use yeast extract to sneak MSG back into processed foods. Is that true?2020-12-09T12:59:37-05:00

No, in fact, just the opposite is true. Chefs in restaurants and food companies use yeast extract as a natural replacement for salt and MSG (monosodium glutamate). Yeast extract and MSG are not the same ingredients.

Yeast extract contains naturally occurring glutamic acid which turns out to be far less than tomatoes, peas, and Parmesan cheese, for example, that contain more. Yeast extract contains far less free glutamate than mono-sodium glutamate, or MSG. Transparency is also important, so if you want to be aware of yeast extract in your foods, just look for it on the ingredient panel of the food label.

What is the difference between MSG and yeast extract?2020-12-09T12:59:52-05:00

Many fresh products naturally contain glutamate including tomatoes, peas and mushrooms. Our body also produces glutamate regardless of the food we consume. Indeed, it is naturally present in saliva and breast milk. It is also one of the many natural components of yeast extract, in a concentration roughly equivalent to 5%.

Yeast extract is often mistaken for monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that is 100% glutamate salt.

The FDA has given MSG its Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) designation. Double-blind tests have failed to find evidence of adverse human reaction to MSG.

How safe really is yeast extract for my family to eat?2020-12-09T13:00:06-05:00

Yeast extract is a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) ingredient by US regulations. Since yeast extract is all natural, it’s able to add savory flavor to a wide range of foods without the need to add chemically derived flavor enhancers. And because yeast extract is based on amino acids, it doesn’t take much to meaningfully add taste to a great many foods. In fact, some yeast extracts can reduce, by up to 50 percent, the salt in food formulations – making it that much easier to enjoy healthier foods without sacrificing flavor. Yeast extract is a proven safe ingredient that replaces salt, enhances flavor, and strengthens the cooking and baking process.

What is autolyzed yeast extract?2020-12-09T13:00:19-05:00

Simply put, “autolyzed” is nothing more than the term used for the natural process of making yeast extract. It’s not as mysterious as it may sound. There are 4 simple steps to making yeast extract:

1. Fermentation of the yeast
2. Breakage of the cell wall using heat and natural enzymes also known by the scientific term of autolysis
3. Separation of the yeast cell wall
4. Drying of the yeast extract into a powder form

All yeast extract goes through this natural autolysis process.

What’s the origin of yeast extract? Where does it come from and how is it made?2020-12-09T13:00:37-05:00

Bakers, brewers, and chefs have been using yeast in foods and beverages for almost 4,000 years, all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Yeast is a living organism, so it’s not really made, it’s fermented in a similar process to making sauerkraut or beer.

Yeast is a basic ingredient of yeast extract. Natural enzymes break down yeast protein into taste-delivering parts known as yeast extract.

Why use yeast extract at all?2020-12-09T13:00:49-05:00

Yeast extract is similar to vanilla extract or almond extract, in that it provides concentrated flavor in food. It gives your mouth a pleasant, savory sensation known as umami. And combining ingredients and influencing taste is what cooking is all about, so yeast extract works well to add healthy taste and bring out and balance flavors in a wide range of products.

What is the nutritional profile of yeast extract?2020-12-09T13:01:03-05:00

Yeast extract is rich in Vitamin-B12, which makes it a healthy option for vegetarian foods, which can be deficient in that nutrient. Because its components come directly from natural yeast, yeast extract possesses a rich mix of protein compounds. The amino acid profile and taste of yeast extract are similar to beef bouillon, or a hearty broth or stock. Historically, the basic ingredient for yeast extract – brewers’ or bakers’ yeast – has been used for thousands of years to make bread, beer, and wine.

What’s actually in yeast extract?2020-12-09T13:01:16-05:00

Yeast extract is a natural ingredient composed of a variety of amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and high-quality proteins. It is a rich and healthy blend of natural components just like its basic form fresh yeast. And since yeast extract is not made up of any animal ingredients, it’s especially well-suited for use in vegetarian dishes.

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