Yeast extract is the common name for various forms of processed yeast products made by extracting the cell contents (removing the cell walls); 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, and can be found in a large variety of packaged food 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.[1]

Yeast extracts and fermented foods contain glutamic acid, an amino acid found in meat, cheese, fungi and vegetables, including mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes.[2] A number of consumer groups have claimed that certain food ingredients, such as autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein, are MSG in disguise [3] but food scientists and large food retailers such as Whole Foods dispute these claims.[4][5][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]

Marmite yeast extract

Yeast autolysates are used in AussieMite, Mightymite, Vegemite (Australia), Marmite, Promite, Oxo (Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom), Cenovis (Switzerland), Vitam-R (Germany) and Maggi sauce.[8][9][10] Bovril (Ireland and the United Kingdom) switched from beef extract to yeast extract for 2005 and most of 2006, but later switched back.[11]

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.[1]

Yeast extract is used as a flavor enhancer in processed foods of all kinds. Skincare companies like Orved use yeast extract in its products.[12]

Autolyzed yeast

Autolyzed yeast contains the cell walls. Hydrolyzed yeast or hydrolyzed yeast extract is another version used as a flavor enhancer. Exogenous enzymes or acids are used to hydrolyze the proteins. It mimics MSG when combined with sodium.


  1. ^ a b Bond, Owen. "Benefits of Yeast Extract". LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved 2018-04-04. 
  2. ^ "Your guide to glutamate (+vegan queso salsa dip)". WhyFoodWorks. Retrieved 2016-04-15. 
  3. ^ "Yeast extract is hidden source of MSG in your food: Here's where its found". NaturalNews. Retrieved 2018-04-06. 
  4. ^ "Myths and Misconceptions: MSG". Whole Foods Market. Retrieved 2016-09-09. 
  5. ^ "How does your body react to MSG?". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2018-04-06. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ "Here's how food companies sneak MSG into foods". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  8. ^ Frawley, Francesca (2016-10-13). "Having a Marmite CRISIS? Here are the tasty alternatives (and it doesn't involve Bovril)". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  9. ^ "Vegemite, Marmite, Promite - which is best?". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  10. ^ Barton, Laura (2002-01-04). "100 years of Marmite". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  11. ^ Wainwright, Martin (2004-11-19). "Bovril drops the beef to go vegetarian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  12. ^ "Pollution Is Damaging Your Skin – Here's How To Stop It". Retrieved 2018-04-04. 

Further reading

External links

  • yeastextract.info: Homepage of Eurasyp (European Association of Specialty Yeast Products)