Organic nutritional yeast
Yeast is a single-celled microscopic fungus that is undetectable to the naked eye. It is well known in the form of baker’s yeast, which is used in baking to make breads and cakes light and fluffy. In beer- and winemaking, yeast aids in fermentation. But apart from all that, this tiny living organism is a real superfood, containing an abundance of interesting and important vital substances. The yeast used in BERTRAND drinkable meals is so-called nutritional yeast. The term refers to yeast that has been deactivated by a special process. Although this form of yeast no longer “works”, that is, it can no longer be used as leavening or as a fermentation agent, it still contains all of the nutrients it did before. Nutritional yeast can be processed into flakes or powder and thus used as a condiment, as a nutritional supplement, or as a vegan cheese substitute. And nutritional yeast powder can be incorporated into BERTRAND products.
We're backing organic suppliers
Wild yeast can be found practically everywhere in nature. For this reason yeast in general, and nutritional yeast in particular, can be produced very easily almost anywhere. In Germany, too, there are various producers and suppliers of organic nutritional yeast. As with all the ingredients in our drinkable meals, we’re relying entirely on organic products. Since the end of 2013, yeast is considered an agricultural product under EU regulations. This means that organic products that use yeast in the manufacturing process must contain organic yeast. Yeast was previously considered a microorganism and therefore permitted without restriction. Individual organic food associations such as Demeter, Bioland, and Naturland have created their own guidelines with requirements for the production and use of organic yeast. Our organic nutritional yeast has many advantages compared to conventionally manufactured products, both in terms of chemical-free processing as well as from an ecological perspective, since the strain on the environment from the production process is significantly reduced.
Production of our organic nutritional yeast
Cultivation of the tiny plant microorganisms (often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), which are classified as lower fungi, requires a source of sugar, for which conventional production to this day typically uses molasses. Molasses is a dark brown, viscous sugar syrup, which occurs as a by-product in the production of sugar from sugar cane or sugar beet. More and more often this involves genetically modified fertilizers and growth mediums. In the course of the multistage production process, the yeast cultures are fermented and treated with various chemicals such as ammonia, sulfates, and phosphates. Unwanted microorganisms are killed off with sulfuric acid, which must then be neutralized again with sodium hydroxide. The process ends with several wash cycles, which heavily pollute waste water, to remove unpleasant odors and flavors. By contrast, organic nutritional yeast is prepared using exclusively organically produced materials.
ORGANICALLY GROWN GRAINS
Yeast reproduces asexually through division or budding. The starting point for the cultivation of yeast is a so-called “pure culture yeast”. This pure culture is applied to a growth medium—the source of sugar, that is, carbohydrates. For our organic nutritional yeast we use grains from organic farming as a nutrient medium and source of nitrogen. Lactic acid bacteria (lactobacilli) are often added as a natural aid to growth. This provides both an increased shelf life and a more intense aroma.
Yeast possesses a pronounced tendency to fermentation, which in the case of nutritional yeast proceeds under aerobic conditions. That means that the cultures depend on oxygen. The glucose in the growth medium is metabolized into carbon dioxide and water. This is referred to as oxidative fermentation. If the yeast were intended for the production of alcoholic beverages like beer or wine, it would have to undergo alcoholic (anaerobic) fermentation in the absence of air. The latter, however, is not what we want for our BERTRAND drinkable meals.
FOAM NEEDS TO BE REMOVED
The fermentation process involves the formation of foam. This foam must be removed from the yeast before it can be processed further into the desired products. Conventional cultivation uses synthetic anti-frothing agents. The yeast must subsequently be washed twice. Organic yeast is defoamed with the use of organic sunflower oil. Subsequent washing is unnecessary. Instead there follows sterilization using steam. The result is a yeast cream. The residual water thus produced can be used in the preparation of other products (e.g. sourdough starter).
WE NEED A TEMPERATURE OF 130°C
DRYING AND MILLING
Nutritional yeast is yeast that has been deactivated by heat. That means that it no longer contains any living fungi. The positive probiotic effects on intestinal health are unfortunately lost in the process. Deactivation is achieved through exposure to heat, in which the yeast is briefly heated to 55–60°C. Any potentially still living yeast cells are deactivated by the subsequent drying. Drying is achieved through drum drying. In this particularly gentle drying method, the yeast is spread onto a drum as a thin film. The liquid contained in the yeast evaporates at a temperature of 130°C and yeast flakes are formed. These flakes are then ground into the finest yeast powder in a ball mill. In this way the relatively hard cell walls of the yeast fungi are cracked open and the nutrients made more usable. The yeast powder can then be combined with the other ingredients of our BERTRAND drinkable meals.
Why organic nutritional yeast?
The mechanics of yeast were discovered in 1857 by Louis Pasteur. It is true that the ancient Egyptians were already using yeast millenia ago in the production of bread and beer, although without knowledge of the valuable contents and the specific biological processes that the yeast fungi represent. Pasteur discovered that heat and sugar are just what is needed for explosive growth. On the other hand, yeast doesn’t care at all for salt, fat, or cold. We use nutritional yeast for our BERTRAND drinkable meals due to its high nutrient content. At BERTRAND we also value the flavor of nutritional yeast very highly, it emphasizes the aroma of our products.
And this is what’s in our organic nutritional yeast:
Nutritional yeast is particularly rich in B-complex vitamins. Vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) are present in substantial quantities. B vitamins are important nutrients for a balanced metabolism, they support the smooth operation of the nerves and muscles. Vitamin B12 is not present in significant quantities. Besides the B vitamins, nutritional yeast also contains folic acid, which is an important component of the nerve metabolism. Pantothenic acid is involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids. Together with biotin, folic acid and pantothenic acid constitute “beauty vitamins”, which invigorate the skin, hair, and nails.
Nothing in the human body can function without an adequate supply of minerals. Nutritional yeast contributes to a balanced diet with potassium, calcium, and magnesium, among others. This facilitates the smooth intake and release of water, nerve signals are transmitted correctly, cell walls are stabilized, the muscular system relaxed, and the hormonal system supported. The sodium content is in ideal proportion with potassium.
Trace elements are often components of enzymes, which perform very specific regulative and control functions in the body. In this case it is mostly iron and zinc which are contributed by nutritional yeast. Iron is fundamental when it comes to the formation of blood and the supply of oxygen in the blood. Zinc is part of the protective antioxidant system and stimulates the immune system.
Nutritional yeast is also rich in protein. 100 grams of yeast flakes contains as much as 43 grams of valuable protein in the form of easily usable amino acids. Fats and carbohydrates, on the other hand, are barely present at all.
Nutritional yeast has come under criticism, but why?
Nutritional yeast is rich in glutamic acid. This non-essential amino acid is often equated with the food additive glutamate. Glutamate is reputed to cause headaches, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal disorders, and obesity. However, this refers to isolated glutamic acids, or to an isolated salt of glutamic acid. This product, known as glutamate, is a (bio-)technologically created pure substance and is manufactured industrially. It is a food additive which requires licensing and has the identifier E 621.
Bound glutamic acid, on the other hand, is a completely natural ingredient in many foods. Apart from nutritional yeast, large amounts are also found in soy, peanuts, and cheese, for example. Yeast flakes—just like yeast extract—are often used as a flavor enhancer and can therefore be found on many ingredient listings, especially on organic products. It does have a tangy, savory flavor (often called “umami”), but with regard to unwanted side effects, it is harmless. There are no health risks connected with it.
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- Post image, Flakes of Yellow Nutritional Yeast: P Maxwell Photography via Shutterstock