Find out if yeast extract is gluten-free, what it’s made from, and what to look for on the ingredients list. Plus find out about autolyzed yeast extract.
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Have you ever wondered what yeast extract is when looking at ingredients lists on some processed food packages?
We know what yeast is, but yeast extract? This ingredient stumped me too before I started researching it.
If you follow a gluten-free diet or are just getting started with one, it’s important to understand how to read ingredients lists for hidden sources of gluten. That way, you can review that product and make an informed decision as to whether or not to buy it.
Finding an ingredient that we’re not even entirely sure what it is makes that decision just a little bit more tricky.
That’s why this post is dedicated to yeast extract. It’s arguably a very boring ingredient that even I am surprised to be writing about. But hey, each and every ingredient that I put in my mouth needs to be scrutinized if I choose to avoid gluten (and I do!).
In this post, we’ll cover all the bases, including what yeast extract is, what it’s used for, and made from. We’ll also talk about if this ingredient is gluten-free, and answer a few more questions about different types of yeast extract and what to know about how these fit into a gluten-free diet.
Let’s get started!
What is yeast extract?
Yeast extract is a food additive or flavoring that’s found in some processed foods. It has a savory flavor and lends itself to dishes with umami flavors, like frozen meals, stock, gravy, and other snack foods.
Yeast extract is liquid, but can also be dried into a paste or a powder. The most popular products containing yeast extract as a main ingredient are Marmite and Vegemite, two spreads that are used mainly in British and Australian cultures.
What is yeast extract used for?
Yeast extract is used for adding a savory or umami flavor to dishes, like stews, sauces, or marinating meat.
In processed foods, it’s often used as a food additive or flavoring. You can find it in crackers, soups, gravy, bouillon, taco seasoning, or even frozen foods. Many salty processed foods contain yeast extract.
Read on: Is Better Than Bouillon gluten-free?
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Read on: Gluten-free ramen
What is yeast extract made from?
Yeast extract is made from the same type of yeast that is used in brewing and breadmaking.
According to Healthline, “yeast extract is made by adding sugar to yeast in a warm environment. As the yeast expands, the walls of its cells soften. This mixture is then spun in a centrifuge and the loosened cell walls are whisked away.”
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
Is yeast extract gluten-free?
Yeast extract is not usually gluten-free, but you can check the label of the product you’re buying to confirm.
Yeast extract is usually made from barley, but the manufacturer is required to disclose the source of the yeast extract on the ingredients list so you know what you’re looking at before you buy,
For example, on an ingredient list, seeing “yeast extract (barley)” on an ingredient list would indicate the presence of gluten. It might also show in parentheses other gluten ingredients like rye or wheat.
On the other hand, if you see “yeast extract” listed on a package in the ingredients list and a gluten-free label, you know this brand uses a gluten-free type of yeast extract.
They have also done their research to test if their product can be labeled as gluten-free, meaning it has less than 20ppm of gluten in it.
Read on: Is yeast gluten-free?
Is autolyzed yeast extract gluten-free?
Autolyzed yeast IS gluten-free. Autolyzed yeast extract IS NOT gluten-free.
Be on the lookout for “autolyzed yeast extract” as it’s not the same as autolyzed yeast.
Autolyzed yeast extract is usually made from barley, which is not gluten-free. Avoid products with this ingredient when you find it listed in ingredients lists on packaged foods.
If you’ve been wondering about yeast extract and if it’s safe to include in your gluten-free diet, I hope this post has helped you get the answers you’ve been looking for.
This ingredient is a common food additive and flavoring, so you’re likely to find it if you buy processed foods from the grocery store. Knowing that yeast extract is generally safe for a gluten-free diet.