On The Eighth Day co-op member Kathie takes us through a vegan shopping guide with essential vegan ingredients to help demystifying vegan.
If you’re a newbie to the wonderful world of vegan cooking, you might read a few recipes online and understandably be put off by reams of unusual and hard to find ingredients. Now, you certainly don’t have to use these items to be a “good vegan” but you might find that they are actually pretty simple to use.
'Nooch'/Nutritional Yeast/Yeast Flakes
Nutritional yeast is great. We sell thousands of tubs of it every year, and it’s up there with Barista Oat Milk as one of our best selling items. It’s basically deactivated yeast, so it’s not still live, and it looks a bit like the flakes you feed to a pet goldfish - but it tastes like cheese. You can sprinkle it on pasta, stir it into soups, or use it in creamy sauces to add a cheesy flavour. It’s also a fantastic source of B Vitamins.
Shop nutritional yeast
Jackfruit is a massive, rather ugly tree fruit that comes from Asia. When picked young and the flesh is cooked, it splits into shreds with a texture that’s really similar to “pulled” pork or duck. You generally buy it tinned in brine here in the UK, and we sell several versions. My favourite thing to do with it is to cook it down for about 45 minutes with BBQ sauce, then enjoy it hot on a sandwich, but you can also use it to make chicken wings, or as an ingredient in curries and stews.
This has really come into its own in recent years as an egg replacer. It’s literally just the watery goop that you usually rinse down the sink from a can of chickpeas (other bean juices work, too!). It doesn’t really have any flavour. You can use it in cakes, homemade vegan mayo, in making a chocolate mousse, pavlovas and loads of other vegan recipes. The best thing about it is that it’s essentially free!
Seitan & Vital Wheat Gluten
Vital wheat gluten is flour which has been washed so it’s really high in gluten, which is what gives breads and other baked goods their stretchy texture. You use vital wheat gluten to make seitan from scratch - seitan is a protein-rich meat replacement which mimics meat’s bouncy texture. You can make your own roasts, burgers, chicken replacements and loads of other things using it!
Shop Seitan and Vital Wheat Gluten
Silken tofu and the normal stuff you find in the fridge are not the same thing, and cannot be used interchangeably. Silken tofu tends to live on the shelf, not in the fridge, and comes in a carton. It has a texture which is very soft, kind of like cooked egg white. You can use silken tofu to make cheesecakes and other creamy desserts, or you can use it to make scrambled tofu - which you’d have just as you would scrambled eggs, for breakfast.
Shop Silken Tofu
I know it sounds a bit wild, but liquid smoke is quite literally what it says it is. Hardwood chips are burned, and the smoke is trapped in condensers. A little bit of this stuff goes a long way - a few splashes of it in a stew, BBQ sauce or a seitan mix will give it that gorgeous smoked bacon flavour that even the most devoted vegans and vegetarians would be hard pressed not to love. If you’re struggling to get hold of it, you can sub it for lapsang souchong tea or smoked paprika - try marinating thin slivers of carrot in nori (seaweed) and smoke flavour to make a vegan smoked salmon alternative.
So hopefully that’s given you a bit of inspiration to try some new ingredients. In truth, veganism is possible without these weird and wonderful things, but you might quickly get bored and turn back to reaching for animal ingredients - these items really helped me to keep my meals interesting and to inspire my love of vegan cooking, so I hope they do the same for you.
Love, Kathie xx
For more vegan recipes & tips, check out our full blog page here.
Find us at 111 Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7DU or shop online - we ship to anywhere in the UK.