Bouillon is a staple in most people’s pantry. Because not everyone has the time to make our own stocks or the pantry space to hold the aseptic containers, many turn to bouillon cubes and powders. Most of these contain one of more of the following “flavor enhancers”: monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, protein isolate, “spices” and “natural flavorings.” All of these are either forms of free glutamates or may contain forms of free glutamates. In 1995, the FDA released a report stating that an unknown percentage of the population may react to free glutamates (Chinese restaurant syndrome). Symptoms of this reaction include:
- a burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest
- numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back
- tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms
- facial pressure or tightness
- chest pain
- headache including migraines
- rapid heartbeat
- difficulty breathing in people with asthma
I don’t know about you but this isn’t my idea of a good time! Miyoko Schinner, author of The New Now and Zen Epicure: Gourmet Vegan Recipes for the Enlightened Palate has created a flavoring that doubles as a bouillon. The recipe can be found on a site devoted to the unturkey and below. For those of you who didn’t have a chance to taste an unturkey before Now & Zen went out of business, I highly recommend making the recipe on this site to create one of your own. Unlike the tofurkey, the unturkey tastes good.
The Schinner’s flavoring uses nutritional yeast as its main ingredient and does not use any free glutamates. Nutritional yeast can be found in most health food stores. It’s a nutritional supplement similar to brewer’s yeast. It’s a deactivated yeast that is high in protein and vitamins (especially B-complex vitamins) but low in salt and fat. It has a cheese-like flavor so many vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals use it as a substitute for Parmesan on pasta or as a substitute for white cheddar on popcorn.
Nutritional Yeast vs. Brewer’s Yeast
So, if nutritional yeast is similar to brewer’s yeast, how exactly is it different? The Cook’s Thesaurus does an excellent job of explaining this:
Notes: This inactive yeast is rich in protein and B vitamins, and it’s used [as] a nutritional supplement. It’s a by-product of beer-making, which gives it a slightly bitter flavor. If you object to the bitterness, try nutritional yeast, which is made from the same yeast strain but grown on molasses. It’s more expensive but has a more pleasant flavor. You can also buy debittered brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast comes powdered (the most potent form), in flakes (best for health shakes), and in tablets. Don’t confuse this with active forms of yeast, like the kinds bakers, brewers, and winemakers use. If you eat them, active yeasts will continue to grow in your intestine, robbing your body of valuable nutrients.
Substitutes: nutritional yeast (better, nuttier flavor, lighter color) OR yeast extract
Equivalents: 1 tablespoon powdered = 2 tablespoons flakes
Notes: This nutritional supplement has a pleasant nutty-cheesy flavor and is packed with protein and B vitamins. It comes in flakes or powder and is popular with vegans and health buffs who use it to make cheese substitutes, gravies, and many other dishes. It’s also a great topping for popcorn. Nutritional yeast is very similar to brewer’s yeast, which is also used as a nutritional supplement and is made from the same strain of yeast. The difference is that brewer’s yeast is a by-product of beer production and retains some of the bitter flavor of hops. Don’t confuse nutritional yeast, which is deactivated, with active forms of yeast, like the kinds bakers, brewers, and winemakers use. If you eat them, active yeasts will continue to grow in your intestine, robbing your body of valuable nutrients. Look for nutritional yeast at health food stores. Get fortified nutritional yeast if you’re taking it as a source of vitamin B12.
Substitutes: brewer’s yeast (inferior flavor, darker color) OR Parmesan cheese (as a condiment; higher in fat, less nutritious [and is not vegan]) OR wheat germ (works well in baked goods or sprinkled on cereals) OR yeast extract [which contains free glutamates]
Light Yeast Flavoring Powder
Makes approximately 185 ml (6.5 ounces) of powder
I usually triple the recipe and keep it in the refrigerator. If you don’t think you will go through it quickly enough, you can store it in the freezer. When the recipe is tripled, it makes approximately 2.5 cups (550 ml) of flavoring powder. I use 1 teaspoon Light Yeast Flavoring Powder mixed into 1 cup of boiling water in place of 1 cup broth whenever it is called for in a recipe. This broth is also what I reach for when I’m not feeling well. It makes an excellent seasoning in cooking in general. This recipe will be called on again when I discuss the ways to make seitan.
You may look at the ingredients and think that’s a LOT of spices to purchases and spices are expensive. Check out places like the PCC and Whole Foods which will sell you only the amount of spices you need instead of large jars. Buying spices in smaller amounts will be less expensive and your spices will end up being fresher. Once a month, I buy what spices I think I’ll need that month. I end up spending only a few dollars at most for many different spices instead of just for one and since the spices are fresh, I can use what the recipe calls for instead of increasing it because my spices have lost their flavor.
- 1 c nutritional yeast flakes*
- 1 T salt
- 1/2 t ground ginger
- 1/2 t turmeric
- 1 t ground black pepper
- 1 t leaf marjoram
- 1 t tarragon
- 1 t paprika
- 1 t rosemary leaves
- 2 t rubbed sage
- 2 t celery seed
- 2 t thyme
- 2 t garlic powder
- 2 t onion powder
*Some stores sell two sizes of flakes. Choose the larger size. If only powdered nutritional yeast is available, use half the amount stated above.
- Cuisinart fitted with a metal blade — OR — blender*
- Large enough airtight container to hold the finished product. Use a Food Saver container if you have one.
- Measuring spoons and cups
*Only use a blender if you are making the recipe as stated. If you double or triple the recipe, you will have a much easier time if you use a Cuisinart.
- Measure and place all of the ingredients in the Cuisinart.
- Process until the mixture is a fine powder.
- Place ingredients in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.