Even if you're not vegan
If you've dabbled in vegan cooking, you might be wondering what nutritional yeast is. We've got the answer.
If you’ve dabbled in vegan cooking at all, you’ve probably seen nutritional yeast in countless recipe ingredient lists. As a nutritional yeast newbie, you might wonder what the heck nutritional yeast is, and why anyone would want to eat something with such an unappealing name.
Nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a fungus that grows on the molasses plant. After harvesting, nutritional yeast is washed, dried, and heated to deactivate it. The resulting product consists of tiny yellow flakes. I know, its description doesn’t make it sound any better than its name; however, nutritional yeast is actually packed with flavour, and many vegetarians and vegans can’t do without this pantry staple.
The most common adjective to describe nutritional yeast is cheesy. Added to a thick roux, nutritional yeast makes a delicious cheese-like sauce perfect for spooning over cruciferous veggies and, of course, macaroni noodles.
Nutritional yeast is often found in natural health food stores in the bulk aisle. Certain brands of nutritional yeast may contain different concentrations of nutrients (such as protein and vitamin B12), so if you’re not sure what to get, ask a knowledgeable staff member to help you find the best variety.
Be sure not to get the different types of yeast confused. Because nutritional yeast is not active, it cannot be used as a leavening agent. Further, brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast will not be a tasty substitute for nutritional yeast.