CheeseIn my search for the ultimate nut cheese, I’ve seen and tried numerous recipes containing various ingredients.  But one of the ingredients that interested me most that I’ve seen used time and time again is nutritional yeast (NY).  It interests me for 2 reasons. Firstly it’s flavour … it’s just so cheesy!  The second reason is that I was wondering why the hell yeast was being used in raw recipes! :-0  I’ve since gained a better understanding of NY and now see it as having many benefits and a worthy place in my diet, not least because of the B vitamins it contains.  Let me explain …

Nutritional yeast is very different from the yeast that we see used in baking, dairy and alcohol, as it is completely inactive.  It is grown specifically for its nutritional qualities from pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Latin, don’t ask!!!) grown on a mixture of cane and beet molasses.

Here’s a brief description of the different types of yeast from the Red Star website.

  • Nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a primary grown nutritional yeast grown specifically for nutritional benefits.
  • Active dry yeast is made from cream yeast.  It is a raising agent used in baking goods.
  • Brewer’s yeast is a bitter by-product of the brewing industry; it has a high nutritional profile.
  • Torula yeast (Pichia jadinii) is a by-product of the paper mill waste streams obtained by growing Pichia jadinii on wood sugars.
  • Dairy yeast or whey yeast(Kluyveromyce marxianus) is obtained by growing Kluyveromyce marxianus using cheese whey or whey permeate.
  • Candida yeast(Candida albicans) can cause a body yeast infection. Nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is not found to be a cause of yeast or candida infections.
  • Wine yeast (Saccharomyces fermentati) is used in fermenting grapes into wine.

If you’re out in the health food shops looking for NY in the UK, it’s produced by Marigold; if you’re in the US, you will be able to get Red Star Nutritional Yeast.  I apologise for not knowing what brands are available in other countries, but I would expect these 2 brands can be bought worldwide on the Internet.  Here is what each company has to say about their product:

Engevita-Marigold nutritional yeast
Engevita – Marigold Nutritional Yeast Flakes: “The vegan food with a cheesy, nutty taste made from primary inactive yeast without artificial additives or preservatives.  Engevita yeast provides one of the richest sources of the B-group. It is also rich in protein, amino acids, enzymes, minerals, vitamins and trace elements.  Engevita is purely a natural food, a primary strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, grown on enriched purified molasses under carefully controlled conditions.  This ensures freedom from Candida albicans yeast.  This product does not contain genetically modified organisms.”

Red Star nutritional yeast

Red Star Nutritional Yeast: “Red Star Nutritional Yeast is grown specifically for its nutritive value.  In addition to protein, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, it contains additional functional and beneficial components such as beta-1, 3 glucan, trehalose, mannan and glutathione.  Studies have shown that these components have potential health benefits such as improved immune response, reduction of cholesterol, and anti-cancer properties.  Red Star NY is not made from by-products of breweries, distilleries or paper mills.  Red Star NY is not a GMO and contains no added sugars or preservatives.”

Don’t be surprised if you go into a major chain ‘health food’ shop and ask for NY only to be told, “Don’t you mean brewer’s yeast?” … Er, actually no, I don’t mean brewer’s yeast, otherwise I would have asked for that, wouldn’t I?!!  So try the local health food shop in your area, in my experience, if they don’t have it, they will order it for you.

You might still decide that NY isn’t for you and that’s great!  What we seem to be experiencing in the raw food movement more and more at the moment is people getting the information for themselves and not just saying that they are going to be 100% raw, no matter what.  They are more willing to look at other things and just becoming more relaxed, realistic and less confined (as I see it).  We are seeing more gourmet raw food books using ingredients like NY, and as I mentioned earlier, I definitely think there’s a place for it, especially for people new to the food who are transitioning to a different lifestyle.