What is torula yeast and is it gluten free?


For thousands of years, people have used yeasts to create all manner of food and drink. Bread, cakes, beer, spreads, and sauces…they all commonly include yeast.

Although only a fraction of yeasts are used by us, these members of the fungus kingdom number at least 1,500 species. From scientific research to removing pollutants, yeast is an incredibly versatile substance.

Yet, most of us probably still think of cooking when we think about yeast. Indeed, Two of the most popular types of yeast are still traditional baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. These have been staples in human food production for centuries.

Torula yeast is, perhaps, less widely known, but it’s becoming ever more useful. Let’s find out why.

What is torula yeast?

Torula yeast is used in a wide variety of both human and animal foods. So it’s important to ask: exactly what is torula yeast made of?

Like other yeasts, torula yeast is a single-celled microorganism belonging to the fungus family. With the scientific name of candida utilis, this type of yeast that grows on wood. This is why it’s a natural byproduct of the paper industry. As wood pulp is transformed into paper, this yeast forms on the liquid that’s left over. After being dried, it can be used in powder form. This powder is then added to many food production processes.

But as we increase our awareness of food allergies and intolerances, we have to be careful when adding anything at all to such processes. So, can anybody consume products made with torula yeast?

Is torula yeast gluten-free?

We already know that torula yeast is an important part of many food production processes. But is it suitable for all kinds of diets and dietary preferences?

For example, does torula yeast contain gluten?

Well, the good news here is that it doesn’t contain gluten, which makes it particularly important for those with coeliac disease and similar conditions.

The reason torula yeast is gluten-free is its origin. It’s not derived from wheat, barley or rye, but from wood.

Being gluten-free means that torula yeast can be used in a wider range of foodstuffs. And with around 1 in 100 people affected by coeliac disease worldwide, gluten-free products represent an important market for food manufacturers.

How is torula yeast used in food applications?

Like other yeasts and yeast extracts, torula yeast has a characteristic umami taste. As a result, alongside various industrial applications, torula yeast has enjoyed great popularity among animal feed producers. Animals find the umami flavour more appetising and so eat more of their feed.

But in recent years, food manufacturers have realised the potential of torula yeast for human food production. So, when it comes to food, what is torula yeast used for?

Benefits of torula yeast in food applications?

A great flavouring ingredient

The flavour delivery properties of torula yeast are particularly important in vegetarian and vegan foods. Torula yeast imparts a delicious meaty flavour, which allows food producers to closely mimic the taste of meat.

However, even when the foods aren’t targeted at vegetarians and vegans, torula yeast can vastly improve recipes. The natural umami flavour of this yeast can bring out savoury notes in all kinds of foodstuffs, from succulent meatballs to rich sauces.

A stabilising agent

During fermentation, torula yeast can help to control and stabilise the growth of microorganisms. And with its naturally acidic nature, it can also help to regulate pH levels in food. Plus, it can also influence the viscosity of a food product. Of course, this is particularly useful for sauces, gravies, dressings and other such products where a specific thickness is desired.

All in all, torula yeast can help food manufacturers perfect their recipes.

High nutritional value

When you use torula yeast extract in a recipe, you’ll also be adding a variety of invaluable vitamins and minerals. One of the most important B vitamins to be found in this yeast is B12, which is vital for healthy immune systems, red blood cell production and muscle function. Plus, there are minerals like selenium – which aids thyroid health and immune systems – and chromium – which helps us maintain a healthy metabolism.

Torula yeast’s impressive collection of vitamins and minerals is why it’s used in a wide variety of dietary supplements.

What makes torula yeast different from other yeast extracts?

Like nutritional yeast, torula yeast is deactivated. This means the yeast has been killed through a heating process and will not generate carbon dioxide or reproduce.

Active yeasts, on the other hand, can be used to make beer or make baked goods rise. This is why two types of active yeast are called brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast.

Although it’s no good for making leavened bread or beer, torula yeast has a great many uses, including flavour delivery and injecting recipes with added health benefits. Plus, since it’s gluten-free, torula yeast will continue to play a vital role in gluten-free food production.