If you have been vegan a while, you probably have nutritional yeast in your pantry all the time. Believe it or not, a lot of people haven’t heard of it before, and a great percentage of those people don’t know where to find it! That is the main goal of this tip. People who can’t find nutritional yeast in their town (trust me, there are plenty of towns that don’t have a natural grocery store) or simply don’t like it, this tip is made for you!
Nutritional yeast is a really interesting ingredient. I had no idea what the heck it was the first time I tried it. It is inactive, dry yeast flakes that are fortified with vitamins and minerals. That sounds really disgusting, but it’s always worth a try if it is available. Vegans like nutritional yeast for the cheese like flavor and the B-complex vitamins. I personally really like the flavor, and I put it on everything.
That being said, a lot of savory vegan recipes call for nutritional yeast. It is especially prevalent in dairy free sauce or cheese recipes to give it that cheese like tang and fermented taste. I have seen nutritional yeast used in almost every single cookbook I own, and for some people that can be really discouraging. A trick I learned in culinary school was to use a combination of white or chickpea miso and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in place of nutritional yeast in those a recipes! I couldn’t believe it. I went through the entirety of culinary school without using nutritional yeast once in the kitchen and everything tasted even better than when I had made similar sauces and cheeses with the yeast.
Some people may wonder why miso and lemon create those flavors. Since miso is fermented soybean paste it gives that fermented taste that cheese has. The lemon juice or vinegar gives the tang. The hardest part of this substitution is getting the ratios just right. I always start out with a small amount of each and adjust accordingly. I usually start with a half teaspoon of miso and a teaspoon of lemon.
This is a great substitution for a lot of reasons. The first being that it is cheaper than nutritional yeast. If I buy one container of miso paste, it’ll last me for months. It keeps well in the refrigerator and it is relatively inexpensive considering how many sauces I can make from one 8 oz container. Another reason this substitution is so great is because you don’t get the very distinct flavor from the nutritional yeast. To some people the flavor of nutritional yeast is very off-putting. It definitely has a strong flavor and I remember I wasn’t so sure about it when I first went vegan.