I had no clue what nutritional yeast was until a few months ago when I heard it mentioned as a good source of B vitamins by a natural health specialist. After my own online research, I decided to give it a shot and walked to a nearby health food store (lucky for me, it was on sale that day – I took that as a good sign). When I brought it home, I studied it in the same perplexed way I did when I first brought home other previously foreign objects like Tempeh or Seitan. My conclusion was it looked and smelled like fish food. But please don’t let my quirky observations scare you. The taste is extremely mild and it comes loaded with vitamins and minerals.
The brand I purchased was BRAGG. Their nutritional yeast is derived from pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown on mixtures of beet and cane molasses. When the fermentation process is complete, the yeast is harvested, thoroughly washed and cleaned, and dried on roller drum dryers. The drying process totally inactivates the yeast’s leavening ability. As an inactive yeast, it has no fermenting power unlike the live yeasts used in bread making and brewing.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of vitamin B-12, which is essential for a healthy nervous system, proper food metabolism, and the regeneration of red blood cells. The vegetarian source of the vitamin B-12 in Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning is from natural fermentation, not from a synthetic process or an animal source. This is said to be good for vegans and vegetarians, who sometimes do not get enough vitamin B-12 in their diet because vitamin B-12 is not found naturally in plant foods, only in animal foods. Just one tablespoon provides 40% of the daily value for Vitamin B-12. Other benefits include:
- Folic Acid
- Pantothenic Acid
- Naturally Low in Fat and Sodium
- Cholesterol Free
- No Artificial Colors of Flavors
Nutritional yeast is described as having a nutty, cheesy flavor. There is indeed a hint of nuttiness, but I found the flavor too subtle to resemble cheese. (I’m not sure if the flavor is different from brand to brand). It does, however, lend a nice creaminess when added to hot pasta dishes, which texturally remind me of melted cheese. I’ve been sprinkling this on pretty much everything for nutritional purposes more than for taste because honestly I can’t really taste anything. Well, except oddly on popcorn. For some reason, the taste really comes through when used as a popcorn dressing, and it’s delicious. You can also add it to sandwiches, salads, soups, dips, and smoothies.