Novel ingredients

Snacks will get an umami punch – and tick a number of consumer boxes – from the addition of yeast extract

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Yeast extract will add another dimension of flavour to snacks. Pic: GettyImages/bhofack2
Yeast extract will add another dimension of flavour to snacks. Pic: GettyImages/bhofack2

Related tags Yeast extract Umami taste plant-based sustainable Sodium reduction vegan Snacks Savory Taste Alliance European Association for Specialty Yeast Products Clean label

The Savory Taste Alliance (STA) is on a mission to highlight the advantages of adding yeast to snacks.

The STA is a communications project supported by the European Association for Specialty Yeast Products (EURASYP) to strengthen the ‎awareness of yeast products and provide US food industry professionals with information about yeast extract as a food ingredient.

Yeast is a natural ingredient, occurring in nature for millions of years, however, the discovery of developing yeast extract from the common household ingredient and using it as an ingredient only began in 1950. It did not take long for its rich and natural flavours to catch the attention of product developers, however, 70 years later it is still widely unknown.

According to the STA, yeast extract is perfectly aligned with current consumer trends. It’s a versatile ingredient that can improve, intensify and add a depth of flavour to both savoury and sweet snacks, while also naturally adding to the highly sought after sensory properties.

‎There are many benefits to formulating with yeast extracts, as they naturally add to the taste and sensory properties of snacks, both savoury and sweet.

  • Sodium reduction

Coronavirus has made consumers increasingly aware of how dietary habits can affect overall health and are therefore seeking out healthier products. Yeast extract functions similar to that of using a spice, providing an alternative solution that can add rich flavour while lowering the salt content.

  • Clean label

Yeast extract – which is produced through the autolysis of either baker’s, brewer’s or Torula yeast – is a very transparent ingredient compared to natural flavours, something consumers keep in mind when looking for clean label products.

  • Known and trusted

For consumers looking for nutrition labels with easy to recognise ingredients, baker’s yeast extract offers producers with an option that resonates, as many are familiar with baker’s yeast as a common pantry staple and baked goods ingredient.

  • Plant-based

As an animal-free ingredient, it will help producers expand their vegetarian or vegan-friendly offerings. As sustainability remains top-of-mind for consumers, vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians alike are seeking out more plant-based foods to decrease their environmental impact.

  • Nutrition profile

Yeast extract serves as a healthy source of protein, vitamin B and reduces the need for salt in order to obtain an umami flavour not unlike a meat bouillon.

  • Depth of flavour

Yeast extract can be purchased in the three forms – liquid, paste or powder – and adds another dimension to flavour in snacks. Depending on the particular yeast extract as well as its use and interaction with other ingredients, the umami flavour it provides might vary from buttery to roasted, grilled, cheesy or fatty.

How is yeast extract produced?

Fermentation: Sugar is added to yeast and heated to around 30°C (86°F) allowing it grow. The resulting mixture is known as ‘yeast cream’.

Breakage: The mixture is then heated further, up to around 40°C at which point, the cell wall starts to disintegrate and the inner enzymes breakdown the proteins and other macromolecules, resulting in a liquid mixture that contains tasty components as well as nutrients.

Centrifugation: The remaining cell walls are removed through centrifugation, which allows the cell walls to separate from the nutrients and tasty components. This turns the creamy yeast mixture into a flavourful liquid form of yeast extract, preserving the largest part of the initial nutrients of yeast.

Evaporation & Concentration: Depending on its intended usage, the liquid yeast extract is then dried into a paste or powdered form.

The Savory Taste Alliance represents leading producers of yeast extract, including Kerry, Biospringer by Lesaffre, DSM, Kohjin Life Sciences, Lallemand, Leiber, Ohly and Biorigin.

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