Nutritional yeast

noochIf you’ve been vegan for a while, this stuff probably needs no introduction. If you’re new to veganism, and haven’t yet become acquainted with it, please let me introduce you to your new best friend: nutritional yeast, colloquially known as “nooch”. An amazing food with an unappealing name, at least in English. The Dutch name, edelgist (noble yeast), elevates it to the status it deserves. It’s an inactive yeast, sometimes available as flakes, sometimes as powder, that grows on molasses, and is a good source for a number of B vitamins (although, not B12, unless the brand you buy happens to be enriched with it). Not to be confused with baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast, it has a nutty, cheesy, umami flavor that has sometimes been compared to Parmesan. It has so many uses, it would be hard to list them all, but it makes a great base for cheesy sauces and gravies, it can give an extra heartiness to soups, and it’s perfect even just sprinkled on pasta or steamed vegetables. This morning, I used it to make a savory breakfast scramble from this recipe. And if you’re really not sure what to do with the stuff, I’ve heard people say that popcorn lightly sprayed with vegetable oil (or melted soy margarine) and tossed with nooch was their gateway into the world of these magical flakes. I’m not exaggerating when I say that tasting nutritional yeast for the first time was one of the things that convinced me that I could give up dairy cheese and do this vegan thing for real. The best place to find nutritional yeast is in health food stores. I’ve seen two brands available in Belgium. The one I’ve seen most often here is the Dr. Ritter brand in the orange and white rectangular box. I’ve also spotted the NatuFoods brand – which with its funky purple packaging is the most commonly found brand in the Netherlands – at Farm in Brussels. I prefer the NatuFoods nooch, partly because it was the first nooch I tasted, and it’s the one I got used to while living in NL, but also because the cylindrical packaging makes it easier to scoop out the amounts called for in recipes. (The Dr. Ritter has a pour spout that makes it easy to sprinkle on food, but hard to measure out an exact amount.) In Belgium, nutritional yeast is usually stocked near the flours and grains. In NL, for some reason, they seem to stock it with the supplements rather than the foodstuffs.

4 thoughts on “Nutritional yeast

    • sporkbill says:

      Hi Barbara. The dry, instant yeast you have from Dr. Oetker sounds like baker’s yeast. This is very different from nutritional yeast and you definitely don’t want to substitute it for nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is inactivated and has a nutty, cheesy flavor. Baker’s yeast is still active, and would not taste or act the same.

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