Yeast extract

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Yeast extract is a common ingredient in commercially-prepared soups[1][2]

Yeast extract is the common name for yeast products made by extracting the cell contents (removing the cell walls);[3] they are used as food additives or flavorings, or as nutrients for bacterial culture media. They are often used to create savory flavors and umami taste sensations,[4] and can be found in a large variety of packaged food,[5] including frozen meals, crackers, snack foods, gravy, stock and more. Yeast extracts in liquid form can be dried to a light paste or a dry powder.[6]

Yeast extract consists of concentrations of yeast cells that are allowed to die and break up, so that the yeasts’ endogenous digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds (amino acids and peptides).[7]

Yeast extracts and fermented foods contain glutamic acid, an amino acid found in meat, cheese, fungi and vegetables, including mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes.[8][9]

Skincare companies like Orved, Kiehl’s, REN, and SkinCeuticals use yeast extract in their products.[10][11]

Use in foods[edit]

Marmite yeast extract

Yeast autolysates are used in AussieMite, Mightymite, Vegemite, Marmite, New Zealand Marmite, Promite, Cenovis, Vitam-R, and Maggi sauce.[12][13][14] Bovril (Ireland and the United Kingdom) switched from beef extract to yeast extract for 2005 and most of 2006, but later switched back.[15]

The general method for making yeast extract for food products such as Vegemite and Marmite on a commercial scale is to add heat to a suspension of yeast. Yeast extract results from natural breakdown of yeast cells when they are heated. The natural enzymes found in the yeast cell disintegrates the cell wall so the extract dissolves out. Removing the cell walls concentrates the flavors and changes the texture.[6]

Yeast extract is used as a flavoring in foods. It is a common ingredient in American barbecue-flavored potato chips such as Lay's.[16]


A jar of Vitam-R
TypeYeast spread
Place of originGermany
Main ingredientsYeast extract
VariationsKräuter (Herbs)
Food energy
(per 100 serving)
223 kcal (934 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per 100 serving)
Protein29.8 g
Fat0.3 g
Carbohydrate25.1 g
Similar dishesMarmite, Vegemite

Vitam-R is a savory yeast extract spread made in Hameln, Germany by the company Vitam Hefe-Produkt GmbH. It was first developed by Rückforth AG in Stettin (today's Szczecin, Poland) in 1925[17][18] following the discovery by Justus von Liebig that yeast could be concentrated.[19] It is sometimes described as having a smoother flavor than similar products such as Marmite,[20] Vegemite or Cenovis. Unlike those brands, Vitam-R is not an iconic part of its home country's cuisine, but it is also described as having a love-it-or-hate-it flavor.[21] It is both vegan and vegetarian and is sold primarily in Reformhaus health-food stores.[17]


  1. ^ "Handcrafted chicken soup doesn't happen in 30 minutes, but it can take less work than you might think". National Post. April 17, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "Campbell Rethinks Its Soup Recipe as Consumer Tastes Change". The New York Times. November 10, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste. Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspe. Columbia University Press. 2014. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-231-16890-8. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  4. ^ Baines, D.; Seal, R. (2012). Natural Food Additives, Ingredients and Flavourings. Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition. Elsevier Science. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-85709-572-5. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  5. ^ Costello, Rose (March 21, 2013). "Do you really know what exactly is in your frozen chips?". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Bond, Owen. "Benefits of Yeast Extract". Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  7. ^ "Here's how food companies sneak MSG into foods". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  8. ^ "Your guide to glutamate (+vegan queso salsa dip)". WhyFoodWorks. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  9. ^ Renton, Alex (2005-07-10). "If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache?". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  10. ^ "Pollution Is Damaging Your Skin – Here's How To Stop It". Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  11. ^ Gloss, Get The. "Fermented Beauty: A fad or the future of skincare?". Get The Gloss. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  12. ^ Frawley, Francesca (2016-10-13). "Having a Marmite CRISIS? Here are the tasty alternatives (and it doesn't involve Bovril)". Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  13. ^ "Vegemite, Marmite, Promite - which is best?". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  14. ^ Barton, Laura (2002-01-04). "100 years of Marmite". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  15. ^ Wainwright, Martin (2004-11-19). "Bovril drops the beef to go vegetarian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  16. ^ "Lay's Barbecue Flavor Potato Chips Ingredients". Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Vitam: Mit Hefe-Extrakt zum Welthersteller". Das Nachrichtenportal der Naturkostbranche. 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2018-09-12. Beispielhaft für den wissensbezogenen Wandel der Vermarktung steht Vitam-R, ein Hefeextrakt, der Ende der 1920er Jahre als »Fleischextrakt des Vegetariers«39 vermarktet wurde. Das Präparat wurde 1925 von der Stettiner Rückforth AG...
  18. ^ Uwe Spiekermann (14 May 2018). Künstliche Kost: Ernährung in Deutschland, 1840 bis heute. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 407–. ISBN 978-3-647-31719-9.
  19. ^ Boulton, Chris, ed. (2012). Encyclopedia of brewing. Weinheim: Wiley. p. 394. ISBN 978-1-4051-6744-4. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  20. ^ "Tesco takes Marmite off virtual shelves amid Brexit price hikes". Deutsche Welle. 2016-10-12. Retrieved 2018-09-12. But if Marmite stays off the shelves, Germany could have an answer. A company in Hameln has been making Vitam-R yeast spread since the 1920s. It may not have the same cachet as Marmite, but its smoother taste has a cult following among health food aficionados. But it, too, has become more expensive to import to Britain - even if, after Brexit, it will by default become the leading brand in the EU.
  21. ^ Angela Helmberger (24 May 2018). Glücklich trotz Unverträglichkeiten: Rotationsdiät: Bauchschmerzen und Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeiten dauerhaft lindern — Reizdarm und chronisch entzündlichen Darmerkrankungen vorbeugen. tredition. pp. 104–. ISBN 978-3-7469-4482-1.

Further reading[edit]

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