Dried nutritional-yeast flakes differ from active and beer yeasts because, after being grown commercially, the yeast is heat treated to de-activate it, so it cannot ferment. Its special appeal is a relatively high flavour profile that is distinctly cheese-like and thus it can give a Parmesan-like kick to vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Although containing the complete protein profile of meat, eggs, cheese and other milk products, it is eaten in such small amounts it should not be seen as a protein contributor of any importance to diet.
Nutritional yeast is a very good source of B vitamins except for B12, which is vital for balanced diet and health, and must be added in some way. Vegetarians and vegans are recommended only to use products that have this addition. Although it contains glutamates, nutritional yeast does not contain monosodium glutamate, MSG.
Sold in bulk in specialty health food shops and in bottles and packets elsewhere, including online.
Choose the best
Nutritional yeast contains no salt, sugar, gluten or MSG and is best used with no other addition than vitamin B12; check labels assiduously.
Cool, dry, dark, and well sealed. It has a very long life if stored correctly.
The high, cheese-like flavour tells you how to use it. Novice users are advised to think of it like grated Parmesan cheese and to use it as a sprinkle to finish dishes – from popcorn to mashed potatoes, from tofu dishes to bean stews. Start carefully so you do not overpower other flavours.
Nutritional yeast can be added as an ingredient into the cooking of vegetarian and vegan stews and soups and also makes a really interesting choice and difference for those who include animal products in their diet, especially in egg dishes but anywhere else that a variation on cheese might be welcomed.