What Is Yeast Extract?

Yeast extract is a natural, versatile ingredient derived from yeast that is available as a liquid, paste or powder. It’s often used as a food ingredient to improve, intensify and add depth of flavor various food products and is characterized as having a meaty, umami taste.

Depending on the yeast extract, flavors can include buttery, roasted, grilled, cheesy and fatty.

The process to manufacture yeast extract is completely natural, produced without the use of synthetic or artificial ingredients. It’s derived from Baker’s, Brewer’s and Torula yeast, the same yeast used in the production of beer, bread and wine.

Yeast extract is made using a natural process, autolysis, which consists of three steps.

  1. The yeast is combined with sugar and heated to around 30°C/86°F, allowing it to grow. This results in a substance called “yeast cream.”
  2. The yeast is further heated to around 40°C at which point, the cell walls begin to disintegrate and the inner enzymes begin to break down the proteins and other macromolecules into smaller molecules, resulting in a liquid mixture that contains nutrients and tasty components. This breakage step is also known by the scientific term of autolysis.
  3. The liquid mixture is run through centrifugation, allowing for the separation of the cell walls from the tasty components and nutrients and resulting in a flavorful, liquid form of yeast extract. Depending on its intended usage, this liquid yeast extract is then dried into a paste or powdered form.

In short, yeast extract is yeast without its cell wall. For more information about how yeast extract is made, click here.

Why Yeast Extract?

When it comes to food production, yeast extract is a very versatile ingredient that can improve, intensify and add depth-of-flavor. It is often used in preparing vegetarian and vegan dishes, to season sauces, bouillons, soups and snacks, and is a great way to maintain flavor while decreasing sodium content.

What Is The Difference Between Yeast Extract and Autolyzed Yeast Extract?

There is no difference between yeast extract and autolyzed yeast extract. Including the word autolyzed when identifying yeast extract as an ingredient refers to the process of autolysis, the scientific term used to describe the process used to make yeast extract.