Nutritional yeast is a golden flake adored by vegans and health enthusiasts; it contains a high concentration of B vitamins, protein, and savoury flavour. While the nutritional benefits of nutritional yeast are amazing, a common question often arises: does nutritional yeast go bad?
The short answer is YES; nutritional yeast can spoil. On the other hand, the timeline and factors influencing its shelf life are more complex than you might think.
This article looks into the complexities of nutritional yeast, its shelf life, and how to tell if it has gone bad.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast, often known as “nooch”, is a deactivated yeast product with a distinct dietary profile and a cheesy, nutty flavour. While it is not technically cheese, it is a tasty and versatile way to add savoury flavour depth to various dishes.
History and Background of Nutritional Yeast
According to Wikipedia, The origins of nutritional yeast can be traced back to brewer’s yeast. The journey began in the late nineteenth century, when brewer’s yeast became popular as a natural source of vitamin B complex. Dr. Antonyse discovered its effectiveness in treating B-deficiency diseases such as beriberi.
However, brewer’s yeast’s strong, beery flavour limited its appeal to a broader audience.
Enter the 1950s, a decade that saw the development of a critical innovation: deactivated yeast. This heat-treated yeast kept its nutritional value while losing its leavening ability, making it ideal for food consumption.
The first commercially available nutritional yeast flakes in the United States were introduced by Red Star Yeast, a leading baking company, paving the way for their widespread use. Nutritional yeast has grown in popularity over the last few decades due to its versatility, delicious flavour, and growing awareness of its health benefits.
Today, numerous brands provide various nutritional yeast options to meet various dietary needs and preferences.
Is Nutritional Yeast Healthy?
Nutritional yeast is a healthy addition to many diets due to its impressive nutritional profile. It is particularly valued in plant-based and vegan diets for its ability to provide essential nutrients that might be challenging to obtain solely from plant sources.
Here are some key reasons why nutritional yeast is considered a healthy choice:
Rich in B Vitamins
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin). B vitamins play crucial roles in energy metabolism, neurological function, and the synthesis of red blood cells.
Getting enough protein can concern those following vegetarian or vegan diets. Nutritional yeast is a notable source of protein, providing all essential amino acids. Adding nutritional yeast to meals contributes to protein intake and supports muscle health.
Fortified Varieties Provide B12
Vitamin B12, primarily found in animal products, is essential for neurological function and the formation of red blood cells. Some nutritional yeast varieties are fortified with B12, making it a valuable source for individuals on plant-based diets who may have limited access to this vitamin.
Rich in Minerals
Nutritional yeast contains essential minerals such as zinc, selenium, and phosphorus. These minerals are vital for various physiological functions, including immune system support, bone health, and antioxidant activity.
Low in Calories and Fat
Nutritional yeast is a low-calorie food that adds flavour without contributing excessive calories or unhealthy fats. This makes it a versatile ingredient for those looking to enhance the taste of dishes without compromising their dietary goals.
Vegan Cheese Alternative
Nutritional yeast’s naturally cheesy flavour is popular in vegan cheese recipes. Using nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute allows individuals to enjoy the savoury taste without relying on dairy products.
Gluten-Free and Low in Sodium
Nutritional yeast is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or those following a gluten-free diet. Additionally, it is typically low in sodium, offering a flavorful option for those aiming to reduce their sodium intake.
Does Nutritional Yeast Go Bad?
Yes, like many food products, nutritional yeast has a shelf life, and it can go bad if not stored properly or kept for an extended period. However, the signs of nutritional yeast going bad are usually more subtle than perishable items.
How to Tell if Nutritional Yeast Has Gone Bad
Here are some indicators that nutritional yeast may have gone bad:
1. Off Odor:
- Fresh nutritional yeast typically has a pleasant, slightly nutty or cheesy aroma. If you detect an unpleasant or rancid smell, it could be a sign that the yeast has gone bad.
2. Change in Color or Texture:
- Nutritional yeast usually has a light, golden-yellow colour. If you observe any discolouration, clumping, or changes in texture, it may suggest a loss of quality. Nutritional yeast should have a powdery or flaky consistency; any signs of mould or unusual texture changes could indicate spoilage.
3. Bitter Taste:
- Nutritional yeast is prized for its savoury, umami flavour. If it develops a bitter or unpleasant taste, it’s a sign that the yeast may have changed, affecting its palatability.
4. Presence of Pests or Mold:
- While nutritional yeast is a dry product, improper storage conditions or prolonged exposure to moisture can sometimes lead to contamination. Check for the presence of pests or any signs of mould growth.
5. Expiration Date:
Nutritional yeast often comes with a “best by” or “use by” date on the packaging. While the product may still be safe to consume after this date, adhering to these guidelines for optimal quality is a good idea.
How Long Does Nutritional Yeast Last?
The shelf life of nutritional yeast can vary based on storage conditions, packaging, and whether it’s fortified with additional vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a relatively stable and long-lasting pantry item. Generally, a new batch of nutritional yeast will be kept for about two years with minimal risk of going bad.
How to Use Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a versatile ingredient that can add a savoury and cheesy flavour to various dishes.
It can be mixed into pasta, soups, and sauces. It’s a great garnish for vegan dishes that need a cheesy boost. Nutritional yeast is also a great gluten-free, low-calorie, low-salt topping for popcorn and other snack foods.
How to Store Nutritional Yeast
Proper storage is critical for preserving the freshness and quality of nutritional yeast. While some advise storing opened yeast in the refrigerator, condensation can encourage mould growth. Keep it in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard.
Keep it in an airtight container and out of direct sunlight. In addition, inspect the nutritional yeast regularly for signs of pests or mould even though it is a dry product, proper storage prevents contamination.
You should not eat Nutritional yeast if you have yeast allergies or specific health conditions, especially digestion-related.
Eating expired nutritional yeast depends on how long it has expired, storage conditions and your personal health. Check for any signs of spoilage like discolouration, mould, or a rancid smell. If you notice anything off, discard it.
Cooking nutritional yeast doesn’t significantly destroy all of its vitamins. While some vitamins are heat-sensitive, the impact on nutritional yeast is minimal.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is used to thicken sauces. Active dry yeast is a type of activated yeast that is used to make bread rise.
You do not need to refrigerate nutritional yeast because condensation can promote mould growth.
Nutritional yeast can be a long-lasting and valuable pantry staple when stored properly and within the recommended timeframe. Paying attention to storage conditions, inspecting for signs of deterioration, and keeping an eye on the expiration date are all important practices for ensuring the quality of your nutritional yeast.