5 Facts About Nutritional Yeast

Ever come across this yellowish flaked condiment at the grocery store? And have you wondered what it’s made of, what its benefits are and how to put it to use? Read on to discover five facts about nutritional yeast and find out why this odd-sounding ingredient is on the rise among both vegetarians and vegans.

1. Fantastic flakes

Admittedly, the name doesn’t exactly sell it, and those flakes do look a lot like fish food. But with its strong umami flavour, nutritional yeast can be a powerful secret weapon for health-minded cooks. Cheesy without the use of milk products and salty without the addition of sodium, it also has rich nutty notes. Some say it’s the Parmesan for vegans!

2. Heavenly, but not leavening

In order for bread dough to rise or for ale to ferment, active yeasts, which have the ability to metabolize sugars, are needed. The nutritional yeast we eat is inactive, stripped of its leavening power by being brought to high temperatures, then washed and dried for distribution in flaked or powdered form in grocery stores. It can be stored for up to one year in a cool, dry place, away from light. 

3. Health kick 

Nutritional yeast is rich in nutrients. It’s an excellent source of protein, fibre and amino acids, and also has a high vitamin B12 content, which makes it popular among vegans, since B12 is tough to get from a plant-based diet. This is a very useful condiment for people who follow a meat-free, egg-free or dairy-product-free diet.

4. It’s alive

This single-celled micro-organism, which belongs to the fungi kingdom, is naturally found on the surface of plants, especially flowers and fruits, in soil and in the air. Selected strains of the tiny sugar fungus known as Saccharomyces cervissiae give us commercial bakers’ yeast, brewers’ yeast and nutritional yeast. Without the magic of yeast, there would be no bread, beer or wine!

5. Yeast of all 

You don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to appreciate the flavour boost that nutritional yeast brings to salads, pasta and kale chips (or to our recipes like caramelized onion veggie pâté). We especially love it as a popcorn topper! Many independent movie theatres offer it at their concession stands.... So long, fake butter.