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Yeast – Can you freeze it?


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21 replies to this topic

#1 fiftydollars

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 02:54 AM

I recently took a half teaspoon from a brick of yeast that I had been storing in the freezer for a few months. Anyway, the yeast was dead. I placed it in warm water, waited 15 minutes, and nothing happened. It was totally dead. I next tried a small packet of yeast that I had also stored in the freezer and once again it was dead.

I thought that it was ok to store yeast in the freezer. I believe I heard Alton Brown say so, but all my yeast is dead although it was all well within the expiration date, and none of it had been stored in the freezer for more than a few months.

What happened?

#2 mrsadm

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 04:15 AM

Yes you can freeze yeast. But as with unfrozen yeast, once in a while you get a goner.
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#3 K8memphis

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 07:13 AM

Wull, I've been looking for fresh yeast (in cake form) in my area of the world and not even pizza places or anything use it around here that I can find. Fresh yeast is really awesome in baked stuff and no can find. Red Star doesn't even send it to Tennessee anymore according to their web site.


#4 bkeith

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 08:13 AM

I bought a 1-pound (I think) container of yeast at the warehouse store, and then decided to go low-carb a few months later. This was in 1999. I've still got some of that yeast in a quart jar in the freezer, and in fact used some on Sunday to make a batch of dinner rolls. They say it can't be frozen for more than a year, but obviously it's hardier than that. I find I have to use more than the recipe calls for and/or expect a slower rise. But as long as I proof it with a pinch of sugar before incorporating it into my recipe, it works fine.

You indicate a brick of yeast. Was it fresh or dried? I've never worked with fresh yeast, and don't know whether it can be frozen or not.
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#5 andiesenji

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 08:43 AM

Fresh or "cake" yeast, the stuff that looks like putty, can be frozen for a short period. It has to be well wrapped and preferably sealed in something that will keep it from drying out.
I use a foodsaver vacuum system with it double bagged.

At best, it will keep for about 2 months in the freezer and has to be slowly defrosted - first place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours then bring it out and allow it to defrost completely at room temperature.
If you have kept it longer and it is still active, you are lucky.

It does have some advantages in certain baked goods, brioche, for one. It does best in breads and sweet doughs that do not need a lot of handling. Very nice in slack dough products.

It is not as forgiving as the dry yeasts and does not hold as well if trying a longer proofing time.
Some bakers have experimented with working a dough with half the fresh yeast and 3/4 of the flour, then retarding the dough overnight for the long, cool method to develop more flavor, then adding in a sponge made with the remainder of the yeast and the flour and proofing at room temperature then shaping, proofing again and baking. They say that it has more flavor but when I tried it I did not notice that much difference.

I use it primarily when making the "southern-type" "light" rolls, that have long been a staple in my family. Active dry yeast or 'instant' yeast simply does not produce the same flavor.

It is getting difficult to find, but often health food stores will carry it and will special order it on request.
I sometimes get some from a friend who owns a bakery when I need just a little and don't have time to wait for some to be ordered.
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#6 jackal10

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 08:46 AM

In the UK some supermarkets with in-store bakeries (and Tesco in particular) will give you fresh yeast for nothing if asked.

#7 lovebenton0

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 09:37 AM

I have frozen the block bags of Fleishman's dry yeast for extended periods of time without any problems. The only caution on the label says it should not come into direct contact with ice or ice water when using.

I take what I need to use and let it sit out a bit before adding directly to dry ingredients to make a sponge or to warm water with a bit of sugar to pre-activate.

The yeast cakes of fresh yeast are harder to find any more and I really don't seem to taste that much difference when I make a sponge (which I prefer) or pre-activate the dry. I do also pre-ferment the dough most often and have for years. Saving back a whack of dough from any basic dough such as for French or Italian breads is just a habit. There is a definite up in flavor and yeasty aroma with that method for me, then add the pre-ferment to fresh dough the next day.

But I can see where it could make a difference in something like brioche.
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#8 fiftydollars

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 05:29 PM

There has to be something strange going on in my freezer... I later discovered that I also had a brick of instant yeast, I tried to proof it, and it too is dead!
This can't be possible. There has to be an explanation. How can 2lbs of yeast be dead like that?
They are all well within the expiration date (3/05 and 7/06).

Safeway and Albertson's stores in the bay area carry fleischmann's fresh yeast. I usually find it near the eggs... about where the instant hash brown potatoes and canned biscuit mixes are found. It's not the best fresh yeast around, but it's widely available 'round these parts (Oakland/SF).

#9 chefpeon

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 08:09 PM

I must say, after using fresh cake yeast for the past 7 months, my opinion is......

I hate it!

I "inherited" a full case of 1 lb bricks of the stuff from the baker that preceded me in my current
job. Actually, he wasn't a baker really....he was a guy....who baked. If you know the difference.
Anyway, I didn't want this case of yeast to go to waste, and I knew there was no way I was going to use it up fast enough, so I wrapped it all really well and put it in the freezer. I figured I'd pull out a brick when I needed one. As it is, I use just one third of a brick per week to make up a week's worth of cinnamon rolls. So I pull a brick from the freezer, let it thaw enough so I can cut it up into thirds, then wrap the thirds and put them in my reach-in fridge.

Well, you know how fresh cake yeast will just crumble in your hands? Once it's been frozen, it no longer does that "crumble thing". It becomes a creamy brick of goo. The consistency is totally different. At first, I thought the yeast might be toast, but I got a good rise out of it. I still don't like it because:
A) the creamy brick 'o goo is really hard to handle...actually, make that "creamy brick of glue".
That's more like it.
B) my remaining two thirds of the brick start to mold in my reach-in after about three days (what's up with that?)
C) fresh cake yeast doesn't work well with product that you need to make up and freeze. It loses
it's "oomph" way too fast. When I use SAF (my favorite) yeast, it holds up to freezing my product really well.

I'm stickin' with SAF.

Fiftydollars, here's a question for you.....
when you tested your yeast by placing it in the warm water, you DID put some sugar in
there, didn't you? Yeast needs a little sugar to react......if you just used water, the yeast
would just sit there and look dead. So maybe your yeast WASN'T dead........maybe you
just forgot the sugar....... :cool:

#10 artisanbaker

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 10:30 PM

fresh yeast is so 1990
saf instant is the way to go

#11 K8memphis

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Posted 02 December 2004 - 06:19 AM

In the UK some supermarkets with in-store bakeries (and Tesco in particular) will give you fresh yeast for nothing if asked.

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I definitely need to get out more !! :biggrin:

fresh yeast is so 1990
saf instant is the way to go

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Wull, if we're going for accuracy, it's really so 1970 (and before) :laugh:

ChefPeon, that yeast goo sounds unpleasant. I like the crumbly smelly (inagoodway) unfrozen stuff.

Guess I'll see about finding the saf instant...or get the round trip ticket to London :laugh:

Edited by K8memphis, 02 December 2004 - 06:19 AM.

#12 Soup

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 01:39 PM

I haven't baken since spring (IT's been hot). I wanted to make some challah this weekend and I went to look for my yeast and my wife had put it in the freezer. Is it ruined?


#13 gus_tatory

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 01:49 PM

I haven't baken since spring (IT's been hot).  I wanted to make some challah this weekend and I went to look for my yeast and my wife had put it in the freezer.  Is it ruined?

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you can do a test by proofing it--take a bit, add some warm water and 1 tsp. of sugar, whisk, let sit in warm space for 10 mins. if activity is less than foamy, vigourous, and yeasty smelling, chuck and buy new. hope this helps...
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#14 JayBassin

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 01:51 PM

I haven't baken since spring (IT's been hot).  I wanted to make some challah this weekend and I went to look for my yeast and my wife had put it in the freezer.  Is it ruined?


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I store my yeast in the freezer. Won't affect it at all (and it will make it last longer).
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#15 tino27

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 02:24 PM

I'm assuming that it isn't fresh cake yeast.

I, too, keep my instant yeast in a sealed container in my freezer. Never once had a problem with it.
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#16 cognitivefun

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:07 PM

does it keep BETTER in the freezer than in the refrigerator?

#17 CaliPoutine

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:15 PM

I keep mine in the fridge. I have SAS instant and its been in the fridge for a year. Its still going strong.

#18 cajungirl

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:19 PM

does it keep BETTER in the freezer than in the refrigerator?

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I keep my SAS instant yeast in the freezer, I buy in bulk and its still active after two years. :wink:
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#19 fiftydollars

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:23 PM

Dry yeast will keep for a couple of years in the freezer.

Cake yeast... not so much.

#20 Bill Miller

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:25 PM

We had a bakery close several years ago. We bought three large packages of yeast and froze them. We thawed one at the time and kept in the fridge. Each one lasted a year or more. Love that yeast. We buy at Sams now and do the same.
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#21 Beanie

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 06:54 PM

I once got a free bag of SAF instant yeast at a bakery show, used about a teaspoon to bake some bread, and placed the bag in the back of the refrigerator in a plastic container. About five years later I decided to bake bread again. The yeast was fine... perhaps not as active as fresher yeast would have been, but I didn't do a comparison test. I've baked many loaves of bread with that yeast with no problem.

#22 Chelseabun

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 03:19 PM

Fresh yeast is already activated.  Keeping it at lower temperatures will slow it down but it will eventually die.  I keep fresh yeast a couple of weeks in the refrigerator with no problems.

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