If you’ve been a vegan for some time, I’m sure you know what I am talking about… For the rest of you, here is some data about nutritional yeast:
What is it?
Yeast = unicellular fungus. This particular yeast is of the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the same species as the baking yeast and the brewery yeast (the one used to elaborate beer). BUT, unlike these two, it is already dead when you buy it and its only purpose is to be eaten (not to fermentate other ingredients while elaborating foodstuff).
Never try to substitute nutritional yeast with any of the other types because they taste horrible and you will probably make a mess in your kitchen when they start to fermentate. In addition, there’s also a yeast extract that is a by-product of beer brewing (Marmite® is the most famous brand in the UK) with a bitter flavour that has nothing to do with the nutritional yeast’s.
It’s also called nooch!
How is it cooked?
It doesn’t need cooking, you can scatter it directly over a dish to give a cheesy touch or use it as an ingredient in dishes and dressings (e.g: Stuffed aubergines, Parmesan “cheese”, Vegan pesto, Melted “cheddar”…).
Why do vegans use it so much?
Because it’s got a cheesy, nutty flavour that fits perfectly with many dishes. It is also a quite complete foodstuff in terms of nutrition, but I’ll leave that explanation for people who know more than me about that field. And you can even find nutritional yeast enriched with B12, iron, zinc…
Where can I get it?
That depends on where you live. In the UK it is sold in supermarkets. In other countries, such as Spain or South America it may easier to find in a herbal shop (note: “unbitter brewer yeast” isn’t the same thing, it tastes bitter than nutritional yeast but it could work anyway for most recipes).