A common question regarding nutritional yeast (Nooch) is whether or not it is the same as the yeast used when baking bread or producing beer. Spoiler alert! It’s not. Sorry to disappoint any of you hoping nutritional yeast would help make your rolls rise. Nooch simply isn't made that way. This often leads to the follow-up question of why? What is the difference? Let us explain.
The Makeup of Nooch
The root of all confusion between Nooch and brewers yeast is the fact that they are borne of the same species of yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, the chief difference between them is how the yeast is processed creating very distinct products.
Nutritional yeast is made from the growth of this one-celled fungus that is cultivated in the sterile conditions of a lab before being propagated on a larger scale. The yeast cultures are stored at subzero temperatures in order to preserve them, and to prevent any form of contagion from mixing with other microorganisms.
When the cultures are ready for propagation a small amount of the culture is extracted to be put in large vats or fermentation tanks. Here the cultures are kept happy and well-fed on a diet that mainly consists of sugar, it’s hard watching others live out your dreams. This sustenance often comes from the molasses in sugar cane and sugar beets.
As the yeast cultures eat their way through the sugar provisions it will begin to ferment and release carbon dioxide and ethanol as by-products. These same by-products are the ones that cause bread to rise and create the alcohol in beer and wine!
When it is finally time to harvest the yeast, the fermented yeast is separated from its by-products. A milky liquid known as ‘yeast cream’ is collected. It is at this point during the production process where pasteurization takes place. Here the cultures are heated which now inhibits the yeast from fermenting and growing, deactivating it. This is the main reason why nooch cannot be used to leaven bread or distil beer.
The Makeup of Brewers Yeast
The provenance of brewers yeast is different to that of nooch as it is a by-product of the process in which beer is made.
When making beer brewers prepare a mixture of grain and water known as wort, the same species of live yeast used in the creation of nooch (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is added into the mixture. As mentioned above the yeast starts to eat its way through the sugar in the mixture beginning the fermentation process, creating carbon dioxide, alcohol and carbonation.
Once the fermentation time of the beer has elapsed the wort, now glown up into beer, is filtered. What is left at the bottom of the barrel is known as slurry. This is where brewers yeast is harvested from. The slurry is harvested and decanted into different see-through receptacles which are then filled with boiling water.
This process allows the lighter yeast cells to rise to the top of the receptacle while the remnants of the hops and protein matter known as trub remain at the bottom. The addition of boiling water in this process is key as it deactivates the yeast, meaning brewers yeast like nooch will not help in leaving bread.
After the solution has settled the top yeast rich layer of the liquid is harvested to be refined further into what is known as brewers yeast.
Brewers yeast and Nooch have many clear distinctions which can help us understand the main differences between them. Hopefully, we’ve been able to clear up any qualms or queries you might have about the two. They’re surely worth implementing into your regime, from petri dish to table.