What is taste modulation and how does yeast extract help?


In simple terms, taste modulation is the ability to modify or alter the perception of taste. Whether it’s to bring out spicy notes, deliver long-lasting meaty notes or even to mask acidity and increase flavour profile, taste modulation has so many uses.

Yeast extract is a common ingredient used for taste modulation but how exactly does it help and what are the benefits?

What is taste modulation?

Taste modulation refers to the process of enhancing, altering or controlling the perception of flavour in food and beverages. 

Taste modulation solutions offer the ability to enhance the perception of flavours, without introducing any additional taste of their own. From masking off-notes to bringing out flavours and textures, taste modulation solutions are extremely versatile.

And as more of us opt for plant-based or low-sugar and salt products, the ability to maintain flavour, balance and harmony is even more important. Reducing or replacing ingredients can lead to a lack of flavour or even unpleasant off-notes which is why taste modulation solutions are key. 

How does yeast extract impact taste and flavour?

Using yeast extract within taste modulation solutions has so many benefits. With a rich taste and a complex composition of carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals from the yeast cell, this type of extract has a multitude of uses. There are many different types of yeast extracts; each providing a specific savoury taste of its own. So, how exactly is yeast extract used to improve flavour and taste? 

Umami flavour - the fifth taste

Yeast extract is rich in glutamic acid, which is an amino acid known to bring out an umami taste. Umami is one of the five basic tastes and can be described as a  'delicious savoury taste'. 

Umami adds depth and complexity to food, improving overall flavour perception and really enhances those savoury and meaty flavours. Alongside this, umami also produces longer-lasting flavour sensations, making dishes more satisfying. 

OHLY® SAV-R-FULL is a baker's yeast extract that delivers umami taste, together with juiciness and fatty mouthfeel that are particularly useful in plant-based meat alternatives. 

Balancing flavour and taste profile

Yeast extract doesn’t add a taste of its own; it brings out and balances existing flavours. The naturally savoury and umami taste provided by yeast extract has a unique ability to balance and round out other tastes, including sweetness, saltiness and acidity. It can mitigate the harshness of bitter or sour flavours and enhance the overall harmony of a dish.

If you’re looking to achieve balance, OHLY® FLAV-R-OUND LS has a medium-high natural 5´-nucleotide content which is perfect for balancing sweet, sour and even bitter tastes whilst bringing out the flavours of the recipe. 

Masking off-notes

Off-notes are undesirable flavours, aromas, or tastes in food products. Alternative proteins used for plant-based meats or dairy substitutes and high-intensity sweeteners can all create unpleasant flavours which need to be masked to ensure customer satisfaction.

The natural umami taste which yeast extract provides is an ideal solution for masking unwanted off-notes by distracting the taste buds to improve the overall taste.

Salt perception

Yeast extracts can help to enhance saltiness perception, again due to the umami sensation which they create. The complex flavour profile with a naturally rich savoury taste and increased umami means manufacturers can reduce the amount of salt they use without compromising on flavour.

PROVESTA® 512 is a Torula yeast extract which is ideal for low salt applications aiming to reduce sodium by up to 40%.

Bringing out spicy notes and meaty after tastes

Bringing out spicy notes is essential for seasonings and sauces whilst meaty after tastes are important for meats and plant-based alternatives. 

At Ohly, our team has developed a range of yeast-based ingredients to support different meaty tastes from succulent braised chicken to roasted meat flavours and everything in between. These solutions are especially useful for vegan or vegetarian food products, maintaining that meaty, juicy and satisfying taste.

Yeast extract has a wide range of properties that make it an effective and natural way to enhance the taste of food. To find out more about our taste improvement solutions or for more information on taste modulation, get in touch with our team today.