How to improve taste of pickled olives with yeast extract

By Chris Guo

Pickled olives are considered to be a traditional fermented vegetable in the Mediterranean countries and its production and consumption is recently spreading all over the world. Pickled olives are produced with dozens of brining and curing processes after kernel removal and then by filling with food materials, such as lemon, chili, salmon, etc. The products mix sour, salty, umami, sweet and versatile tastes, and thus are categorized into a broad range of pickled olives based on their different flavors and complex mouthfeel.

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In the process of brining and curing olives, seasoning the olives is key to the overall taste profile of the end products. Common ingredients include salt, monosodium glutamate, acidity regulators, spicery, sugar, seafood extracts, and vegetable extracts, forming multiple flavor characteristics.

MSG, a highly concentrated, synthetic, and processed form of glutamic acid, is a food additive containing the E-number E62. Monosodium glutamate, which can enhance the umami flavor of prickled olives to a certain degree though, is considered as one of the label-unfriendly substances by customers, according to purchase surveys. Therefore, if there is any better substitute, the products can be looked upon more favorably by customers.

Especially in July 2017, the latest assessment report issued by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) specified the safe intake of glutamates (sodium glutamate, potassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, and magnesium glutamate) to be 30mg per kilo bodyweight, i. e. lower than 1. 8g for a 60kg adult per day. Accordingly, developing pickled olive products with "no added MSG" is probably the mainstream trend in the future.

Yeast Extract - An ideal substitute for monosodium glutamate

Yeast extract(YE), a natural source of Xianness/umami taste, is considered to be an ideal substitute for MSG. Yeast extract contains a large number of umami substances (such as amino acids, peptides, nucleotides, etc), which can boost Xianness/Umami taste, lingering taste, and mouthfulness in foods. Adding yeast extracts in pickles can effectively weaken the salty tastes, provide delectable flavor, and a more well-balanced mouthfeel. The rich peptide substances contained in yeast extract can significantly remove the fermentation-caused odor, bitter taste, and some unfavorable flavors.

Compared to MSG, yeast extract is free from E numbers and features natural, nutritional, and healthy properties which can boost the nutritional contents of foods.

How to substitute yeast extracts for monosodium glutamate?

To answer this question, we mainly analyzed the effects of adding yeast extracts on pickled olives in terms of flavor, clarity of pickling liquid, and shelf life and got the following conclusions:

1. Yeast extracts can be used as a substitute for monosodium glutamate to enhance flavor.

We added 0.2% monosodium glutamate and 0.2% Xianness Yeast Extract in the same olive pickling liquid, respectively, left the liquid at room temperature for 2 weeks, and then tasted the liquid.

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After sensory evaluation comparison, the effect of improving Xianness/umami mouthfeel after adding 0.2% of Xianness yeast extracts was equal to that of adding monosodium glutamate. Moreover, the pickled olives adding yeast extracts had well-balanced sour, salty, and umami tastes, and the bitter taste can be effectively masked. In a word, Angel Xianness yeast extracts have a significant effect on enhancing the flavor of pickled olives.

2. Yeast extracts did not affect pickling liquid clarity, ensuring the quality of canned olives.

Different ratios of Xianness/umami Yeast Extracts were added into canned olives and left the cans at room temperature for 4 weeks before observing the changes in pickling liquid clarity.


Control group

Test group 1

Test group 2

Test group 2

Dosage of added YE (%)

Not added






Clear, no turbidity

Clear, no turbidity

Clear, no turbidity

Colour and precipitation


No significant change, no precipitation

No significant change, no precipitation

No significant change, no precipitation

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In low-pH high-salt pickling liquid solution, yeast extracts effectively improve the overall taste profile of pickled olives while maintaining excellent stability and having no significant effect on product quality.

3. Yeast extracts will not affect the shelf life of pickled olives.

We implemented the shelf life acceleration tests for the products in the YE-added test group (40℃, 85% of humidity, left aside for 6 weeks) and then detected microorganisms. The results showed that the microorganisms in the products have no significant difference from those in the control group, which indicated that yeast extracts would not affect the shelf life of pickled olives. The constituents, such as rich protein and free amino acids, contained in yeast extracts tend to be used for living by microorganisms. However, pickled olives are produced with low-pH high-salt marinating process and thus adverse to the reproduction of microorganisms. Additionally, heating YE-added pickling liquid can improve antiseptic effects.

Looking for more application solutions? Please contact and ask for a sample.

Published by Chris Guo

R&D expert of Protein Nutrition and Flavoring technology center

About Angel Yeast Extract-Savoury:

Angel YE (yeast extract) made from edible yeast, by degradation the protein and nucleic acid in the yeast cells into nutritional seasonings with the application of modern biotechnology, has the advantages of increasing the fresh flavor, reducing salt, balancing the odor, strong tolerance and food properties, which promotes the global healthy operation of salt reduction and "clean label ".
About Angel:
Angel Yeast Company is a high-tech listed company specializing in yeast and biotech. Product business covers Yeast and Baking, Yeast Extract-Savoury, Nutrition & Health and Biotechnology fields. It is one of the world's leading companies in the yeast industry. Angel has 12 holding subsidiaries and provides products and services for more than 150 countries and regions.
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Address: 168 Chengdong Avenue, Yichang, Hubei 443003, P. R.China

Tel: +86-717-6369520, 6369558

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