Natural, savoury taste

Some people wonder what yeast extract actually tastes like. In food production yeast extract is always used in combination with other ingredients to round off the taste. It is not consumed in its pure form and is not commercially available to consumers in supermarkets. The easiest way to describe the taste of yeast extract – if you were to dissolve it in water – is to compare it to the taste of a meat bouillon. This comes as no surprise, as the protein components found in yeast extract that come from the yeast cell are very similar to those found in meat bouillon.

Spoons with ingredients

By adding a dash of soy sauce to your food, you can create a similar savoury taste sensation as that created by yeast extract.

The umami taste

Alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter, a fifth basic taste is scientifically recognised today: the meaty umami flavour that we taste when we enjoy a hearty bouillon or a meal that has been seasoned with soy sauce, for example. However, it is not just seasoned dishes – all protein-rich foodstuffs like meat, cheese and legumes taste like umami, too. What unites these foods is the presence of the natural amino acid glutamate. Yeast extract also has an umami taste because it contains 5% of the amino acid on average.

Yeast extract is used as a seasoning ingredient. Just as we sprinkle a little grated parmesan to round off the taste of a pasta dish, yeast extract is used to season sauces, bouillons, soups or savoury snacks. 

Did you know…

The term "umami" is Japanese and can be translated approximately as “tasty”. However, ingredients that give dishes an umami taste are not just used in traditional Japanese cooking. The requirement for the savoury umami taste can be observed worldwide in different cooking traditions, whether it is Spaghetti Bolognese with parmesan cheese or a hearty stew with meat and legumes. As with yeast extract, these foods have a savoury umami taste due to their natural glutamate content. Umami was first described as an independent taste by the Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. He observed that the intensive taste of a Japanese fish stock was unlike any other taste sensation described until then.