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Yeast: Types, Use, Storage, Conversions (instant<>active, US<>UK, etc.)


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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.

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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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.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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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.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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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).

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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:

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

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

fresh yeast is so 1990

saf instant is the way to go

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 (log)
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  • 2 months later...

I have spent the last 1 1/2 hours in three grocery stores looking for live yeast for a recipe that calls for it.

Store # 1:

"Where can I find the fresh live yeast, the little cubes?"

"East? Whazat?"

"No, y.e.a.s.t.. For baking.


"Is there someone who would know?"

"There's the meatguy. He'd have it."

"I don't think so. Is there someone in dairy who may know?"

Nod. Disappears, never to return. After a few minutes I get the message.

Store # 2:

"I don't know sir. Let me call the manager."

"What is it you are looking for?"

"Yeast. Live yeast. Cubed. Not dried, in the packages."

"Yes, we have it. I'll show you where it is."


"Here it is. Oops! Out of date. They brought it to us almost out of date. Sorry."

Store # 3:


"Yeast. Live yeast. Cubed. Not dried in the packages."

"Sure. We have it. It's on the baking aisle."

"I don't think so. It has to be refrigerated."

"I'm sure it's on the baking aisle."

"Maybe. BUt then it's dead yeast."

"I'll call the manager."

"Hi. What can I help you with?


"Sorry. They discontinued that on us. I can get it for you, but it will take at least five days."

Kuddos to manager #2 for effort and courtesy, and to manager # 3 for offering to order (which I did), but this is a pain.

Is it that hard to find fresh yeast in most grocery stores? Or am I just unusually lucky tonight?

Why is one specified in a recipe rather than the other? What effects do they have that are different? Taste? Texture?

And can you substitute dried active yeast for fresh, and if so, how to do it?



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Dude, are you making a savarin?

The usual conversions are:

6 oz cake of compressed/fresh yeast equals

one package (2.25 tsp) of active dry yeast equals

1.5 to 2 tsp of instant yeast.

See here, on the SAF website, at the bottom of the page. Looks like SAF has renamed its instant yeast "Gourmet Perfect Rise" yeast.

When I can find compressed yeast in Brooklyn, it's usually in the dairy case near the eggs and the margarine. But don't feel inadequate if you substitute. I'm not convinced it makes much difference, so long as you make sure not to use too much of the dry/instant stuff. But I'm a modern guy. I like instant yeast, used in minute quantities.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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It is real simple, i've posted this before.....

fresh compressed yeast = 100%

Active Dry Yeast = 50%

Instant Dry Yeast = 33%

just do your math accodingly, if you have a recipe that calls for 10 oz fresh compressed yeast and all you have is Active dry then divide by 2. divide by 3.3 if instant. vice versa

Fresh compressed needs to be dissolved thouroughly in water and then add all ingredients followed by mixing/kneading

Active dry should be dissolved in 1/2 of the water with sugar if recipe calls for it, allow a spong to set for 20 minutes, return to add rest of water and dry ingredients followed by mixing/kneading

Instant dry should be mixed in with the flour first followed by the remaining ingredients and then mixed/kneaded.

Always add salt very last to keep from destroying yeast.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Wull, no difference in performance maybe - but to me there is enough difference in flavor and aroma that I called around and searched and searched right before Christmas and discovered Red Star does not even market it in most states - not TN - Northern states only at certain times of the year.

I did find a pizza place in Pennsylvania that would overnight a $2 pound of yeast to me for like $40 overnight shipping charges - too funny - my nostalgia to use it in my Christmas baking did not run as high as that price tag. :laugh:

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Good guess, Seth. It is for the Herme savarin. I finally found some fresh yeast tonight at Central Market.

Does anyone know what the expiration date means? Is it good after that, if so, for how long? I sealed it in a plastic sandwich bag and stored it in the butter compartment in the fridge.

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My impression is that you're more likely to find fresh yeast specified in 1) European recipes; 2) professional recipes; or 3) recipes from older cookbooks. I don't know about the US, but here in Canada trying to find fresh yeast in the supermarket is an exercise in frustration.

As for shelf life, the usual recommendation I hear is two weeks. In practice, I've occasionally hacked the moldy outer layer off a brick of the stuff (we got 1 lb. bricks of it at my school) and used it. Not for resale, mind you, but when the stuff at school got outdated I'd ask permission to take it home and use it. As long as you're diligent about taking off the moldy bits, it seems to work fine.

I would guess that, while it will lose potency over time, you could probably keep it for at least a few weeks past its date and still get a decent rise out of it.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three


"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning


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Yea, basically I don't pay attention to experiation date, the mold will eat it up so you will see it dying. Basically as long as the yeast isn't blue it will be fine just shave off the surface mold.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Wull, no difference in performance maybe - but to me there is enough difference in flavor and aroma that....

That was what I was wondering. Do others find a difference in flavor and aroma? In all breads --- or some breads, but not others?

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I, personally, would never buy yeast in a supermarket. Fresh yeast is not immortal - that stuff sits on the shelves for weeks on end. If you want fresh yeast, go to a bakery. They'll sell you a 1 lb. block for about $2. It's way more yeast than you'll ever need but the quality of taste is night and day compared with any of the supermarket stuff you get.

Fresh (compressed) yeast has a different taste than dried, and not-so-fresh compressed yeast has a completely different taste than the really fresh high turnaround bakery stuff. I've noticed that as compressed yeast ages, it turns a darker color (not just on the edges, but throughout) and the off flavors get much more pronounced. It is my theory that these are the same off flavors of overfermented bread and is a result of yeast consuming itself. Just a theory, though.

I've never been able to recreate the same quality of taste from supermarket yeast that I get with bakery yeast. Same thing with bakery flour. If you care about bread/baking, don't ever buy flour in a supermarket.

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Scott123 is right - go to a bakery to buy fresh yeast. But check it out carefully. We get shipments every week, but even then we sometimes get a box that's not in very good shape, probably because it wasn't kept at the proper (i.e., refrigerated) temperature during storage or shipping. You must keep fresh yeast cool and it's always a good idea to keep it tightly wrapped.

The stuff will deteriorate with age - you'll see it in the color. It will go from a lightish beige brown to a darker brown., losing some potency in the process. If it begins to grow mold then just chuck it.

A pound of fresh yeast is, for the home baker, a huge amount. We can go through a pound or more an hour, but we're mixing 50-80lb batches. A typical home receipt is only going to use an ounce or less. If you do buy from a baker, see if they'll sell you less than a pound. We often have small 4-8oz blocks in the cooler, so I assume other baker must too.

Good luck.


Steve Smith

Glacier Country

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Flavor difference? I think not. Perhaps if you were making a straight (no starter) dough with too much yeast then ....maybe.

..but I defy anyone to tell the difference between two loaves made with (yeasted) starters, bigas, etc. using appropriately small quantities of yeast.

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I believe I could tell the difference if it was a familiar recipe/formula made exactly the same - sure could. Just like the difference between dried anything and the fresh one, apples, freeze dried coffee, etc. We're just not as familiar with fresh yeast.

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You can freeze fresh yeast. Cut it up into smaller blocks (like what you'd use in a recipe), wrap each one in plastic wrap, and freeze. Thaw when ready to use, then use immediately. It won't keep long once it's thawed, but it still works just fine.

We have a hippie dippie co-op grocery store that sells 1# blocks of it for about $1.75 each. If I can find the Fleishmann's 0.6 oz. cubes at the upscale hoity toity grocery store, each cube is about that price. (And that's if I can find it)

Of course, since I've been doing our weekly bread with a natural sour starter, I haven't needed any yeast at all!

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Dude, are you making a savarin?

LOL...that was my first thought when I saw this topic started by Richard!!

Thanks for the conversion equation. I will be using my trustee instant yeast when making this recipe in babba form.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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