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Fat Guy

A topic about testing yeast

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Do you all test your yeast before using it in a recipe? It seems that every recipe in the universe recommends first putting your yeast in warm water and waiting for it to bubble to ensure its vitality. I have never done this. I just add the powdered yeast to the bowl with everything else. Yesterday I had a little scare because the dough wasn't rising, but when I moved it to a warmer spot it did its thing just fine. The incident gave me pause, but not enough to add this extra step to my baking routine.

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I thought the premixing thing was because there are different forms of yeast. The fresh yeast my Dad uses in baking needs to be activated by putting with a bit of sugar in some warm water. When it froths nicely, it is added to the dry dough ingredients. However, there are also quick yeasts and instant yeasts which are designed to be added straight to the dry ingredients.

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I buy SAF or Red Star instant yeast in 1-pound vacuum packages and store it in the freezer. I go thru 1 lb in 3-4 months, and I haven't ever proofed it. I might consider proofing if 1)I bought it by the strip and it was past the "best by" date 2)I stored it at room temp or in a warm spot or 3)it was undated and I didn't know the age.

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"Proofing" active dry yeast (which I guess is the pro term as opposed to "testing") is done, according to The King Arthur Baker's Companion, because active dry yeast:

...is live yeast dried by a process that kills up to 70 % of the yeast cells. These dead cells surround the live cells, acting as a cocoon to protect them. For this reason, you must "proof" active dry yeast - dissolve it in water, to expose the live cells - before baking with it.

There is no need to proof instant yeast, according to the same source.

I never use active dry yeast any more - only instant.

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Weinoo, so you don't need to do it to fresh yeast? My Dad uses fresh yeast and dried yeast, and I'm pretty sure he proofs both. Maybe just habit though.

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Weinoo, so you don't need to do it to fresh yeast? My Dad uses fresh yeast and dried yeast, and I'm pretty sure he proofs both. Maybe just habit though.

No, definitely not - according to the same source. Also, according to KA, it doesn't last more than a week or two in the fridge.

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I'm an active dry gal, and I absolutely proof every single time I bake (even in recipes that call for sponges). I've had bad batches of yeast that don't foam (normally in the summer, when they'd be subject to temps over 40C inside the transport trucks), and it would have been a disaster had they gone into the dough dry.

Incidentally, I buy in bulk about 2 lbs at a time, and keep my yeast in the coolest darkest part of my kitchen - I have no fridge space for it.

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I have found that if I am kneading a dough by hand or with the KA dough hook, it works just fine if I mix the dry yeast in with the dry ingredients. However, if I am using the food processor, the dough rises much better if I add yeast through the chute after letting it bloom in warm water. I have no idea why.

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All it takes is one batch of dead yeast that you didn't bother to proof to make it a habit to go through that little extra step. I do it while I'm getting all the other ingredients, bowls, etc., together, so by the time I'm ready, it's ready. Then no nasty surprises with a big lump of dough sitting there like a...lump.

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I've used instant yeast for years. Never a problem.

When I used active dry yeast I would always proof it because I bought it in bulk and near the expiration date it would sometimes have less oomph.

There is a way of stimulating yeast that hasn't died completely - as long as there is a little activity you can do the following.

Mix 1/4 cup milk with a tablespoon of water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, warm to 100° F.

Add 2 teaspoons of the dry yeast, mix well and leave in a warm area. If it fails to bubble after 15 minutes, it is well and truly dead.

If it foams up nicely, you can add this to your bread recipe, although it might work better if you make a "sponge" of water and flour with the yeast mixture and give it time to develop before adding the other ingredients. Salt may retard the growth a bit so mix it with part of the flour and add that last.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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bulk dry yeast from costco/sam's club

i keep it a vacumn sealed jar in the fridge. takes me about 12 months to go through it. I re-vacumn the jar everytime i use the yeast.

I do no knead bread (all sorts), pizza dough.For years.

NEVER proof.

Once the dough didn't rise...i forgot to add the yeast!

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When I make pizza dough, I don't bother if I am going for a long ferment in the fridge,4 to 6 days.In fact I don't even add sugar or other sweeteners. If I am wanting to use it right away I do things somwhat differently. I will bloom with sugar or honey and wait til the dough has autolyzed at least 30 mins before adding the bloomed yeast . I don't add salt , olive oil or ascorbic acid til after letting the yeast do a first rise.

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Weinoo, so you don't need to do it to fresh yeast? My Dad uses fresh yeast and dried yeast, and I'm pretty sure he proofs both. Maybe just habit though.

No, definitely not - according to the same source. Also, according to KA, it doesn't last more than a week or two in the fridge.

Thanks for that - I think I must have missed when he is using fresh and when he is using dried. And yes, he buys it and uses it very quickly as it doesn't last too long.

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bulk dry yeast from costco/sam's club

i keep it a vacumn sealed jar in the fridge. takes me about 12 months to go through it. I re-vacumn the jar everytime i use the yeast.

I do no knead bread (all sorts), pizza dough.For years.

NEVER proof.

Once the dough didn't rise...i forgot to add the yeast!

The nice thing about that dough (no-knead breads/pizza) is that they are very wet. But, as SylviaLongren says, all it takes is one batch of dead yeast...

That said, I'm sure most active dry yeast will work without proofing, just might take a little longer to get started.

I keep a 1 lb. bag of SAF instant yeast in the freezer and it works just fine - even long past its expiration date.

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Do you all test your yeast before using it in a recipe? . . . .

Yes, every time, now.

But I only started after my first batch of 'dead' dough; even then, I was a kind of on again/off again about proofing yeast... until the second batch of dead dough. Then I became very conscientious about it.

However, I do bake a lot of bread, so statistically, the odds of my getting a dud batch of yeast are increased.

Dead dough is salvageable (it does add substantially to the time needed to finish the bread), but if you're slated to bring the bread for a dinner party or something, it can be a minor crisis.

Even if it turns out to be unnecessary 99.999% of the time, proofing only adds a couple of minutes to the overall time (I can't imagine anyone baking bread when an added minute or two, or even ten, is just not an option; I admit to usually only waiting for the earliest signs of yeast activity, rather than a full bloom), and, at least if you're counting on having the bread ready at a specific time, it sure beats the drill surrounding adding more (live) yeast to the dough because the original yeast is moribund, or the slight letdown of running out to the bakery to get a stand-in for your bread.

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Oh btw, a good reason to test yeast: A few weeks ago my friend finally searched out some yeast from a local shop and tried making donuts. Well, the yeast was very much dead and the donuts were flat and horrible! It was her first time making them and she was really disappointed. I think if she had a bit more knowledge she would have seen signs that something was wrong, but she is not an experienced cook so she kept on making them thinking that they might work. It was bad for all of her friends too as we had to politely nibble on one each to show willing to support her!

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Weinoo, so you don't need to do it to fresh yeast? My Dad uses fresh yeast and dried yeast, and I'm pretty sure he proofs both. Maybe just habit though.

No, definitely not - according to the same source. Also, according to KA, it doesn't last more than a week or two in the fridge.

I'd venture to disagree, although in principle, it should be true.

The thing is, fresh yeast is more vulnerable to temperature variation. It also is often packaged in nice little blocks, which are universally attractive to small children (I've noticed this in the US, Denmark, and Italy, anyway), who like to pick one out to carry about the shop, until a parent notices, confiscates it, and sets it on the nearest shelf. There's just no way of knowing whether the yeast has been kept within the ideal temperature range: if it's spent a couple of days on a warmish shelf, obscured by a tin of beans, it may not be in great shape.

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First, please understand that I am a novice at bread making... and not much acquainted with the workings of yeast...

I was just wondering if a bowl of proofed yeast could be kept (refrigerated or otherwise) should one not be able to use it when planned.

My concern is not so much one of preserving my proofed yeast as it is understanding how long proofed yeast can "live".

Thank you in advance for any and all insight you can provide this newbie :)

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I would imagine that as long as yeast has enough nourishment to meet its metabolic demands (persumably lower when it's cold), and there is nothing in the water that might kill it, it proofed yeast should survive overnight. After all, isn't it grown in large vats, essentially proofed?

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I never proof. I use SAF Instant and buy it in 1-lb vacuum-packed bags. When I buy it, it usually has an expiration date one or two years out. After I open it, I keep it in a jar in the fridge or freezer and it seems to last well beyond its expiration date (e.g. over a year past) with little or no appreciable loss in rise.

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