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


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I seem to remember reading that fresh yeast is more osmotolerant, i.e., better for sweet doughs, than  active dry yeast or instant yeast.  I think that I saw this in Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America.  Anyway, there is also osmotolerant dry yeast that is good for sweet doughs.  The only brand that I know of is SAF Gold.

I used at work at a bakery where some of the breads were 20% honey. We used fresh yeast and had no problems. You may be right about seeing that in Glezer's book. It's hard to find SAF Gold on a grocery store shelf. The red is available retail in 1 lb bags for less than 5 bucks. the only place i can think of to get a single bag of Gold is King Arthur Catalog.

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  • 6 months later...

two years ago, I bought a big back of red star (I hope I got the name correct) yeast at Costco. Been using it for a good two years and have worked well. However, last two times the dough did not rise right. It rose a little but really didn't come out right.

Do yeast go bad/dead (not even sure what the technical term is)?

How can you tell if they are dead and that it is not something I'm doing wrong (note: I am not exactly an expert baker)?

If they are "dead", what is the best strategy for making my next batch of yeast last long. I going to go out and buy the same block from costco.


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Yeast goes bad.

Put a little in warm water. Eventually it will bubble if it's still live.

Storing in fridge works well. Some yeast freezes well too. Mine does.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yes, yeast can go "bad" (for lack of a better word). Yeast is living and has a shelf life like everything else. You had a great brand. I am not a baker so I do not purchase a large quantity of yeast. There are many factors for yeast - how it is stored, brand, how long you have it, contaminants, and expiry just to name a few.

Whoever said that man cannot live by bread alone...simply did not know me.
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Yeast usually has an expiry date on it. If you no longer have the original wrapper, your best bet it to test it as per the above instructions. The date, however, is a guideline only as other factors can affect the shelf life.

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I buy Saf-Instant active dried yeast in a 500g (about 1lb) pack and keep it in a sealed freezer bag, in the fridge. (The cost savings over the little sachets is phenomenal). It takes me close to two years to get through that amount, and it does get tired towards the end - I used the last batch a tablespoon at a time in the last couple of months, whereas fresh, a teaspoon does the job.

I should think about freezing half the pack.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I buy Saf-Instant active dried yeast in a 500g (about 1lb) pack and keep it in a sealed freezer bag, in the fridge. (The cost savings over the little sachets is phenomenal). It takes me close to two years to get through that amount, and it does get tired towards the end - I used the last batch a tablespoon at a time in the last couple of months, whereas fresh, a teaspoon does the job.

I should think about freezing half the pack.

The SAF freezes beautifully; as I stated above, I keep a small (maybe 4 oz./125ml) glass jar full in the refrigerator, and freeze the rest.

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two years ago, I bought a big back of red star (I hope I got the name correct) yeast at Costco. Been using it for a good two years and have worked well. However, last two times the dough did not rise right. It rose a little but really didn't come out right.

Do yeast go bad/dead (not even sure what the technical term is)?

How can you tell if they are dead and that it is not something I'm doing wrong (note: I am not exactly an expert baker)?

If they are "dead", what is the best strategy for making my next batch of yeast last long. I going to go out and buy the same block from costco.



"Red Star" seems to be a manufacturer rather than a specific product.

There is Red Star Active Dried http://www.redstaryeast.com/products/product.php?cid=1&pid=1

Red Star 'Quick Rise' http://www.redstaryeast.com/products/product.php?cid=1&pid=2

Red Star Bread Machine http://www.redstaryeast.com/products/product.php?cid=1&pid=5

and Red Star 'Cake' (or compressed or 'fresh') http://www.redstaryeast.com/products/product.php?cid=1&pid=9

These different preparations of yeast have different storage requirements and shelf lives.

"Cake" is the only one likely to be sold in "block" form.

And it has the shortest shelf life -- only about 10 days. Red Star say "Cake yeast is very perishable, requiring constant refrigeration to retain its freshness and activity. We recommend using it within 10 days of purchase."

Its a commercial product, invented (about a hundred years ago) for commercial bakers, who turn over their stock in a few days and who aren't bothered about long-term storage.

Its not designed for freezing. Its not sold as a frozen product. Freezing does not show the product at its best (it kills more yeast cells).

Active(ly) Dried yeast was invented primarily as a bulletproof long-term storage product (for the military). Say no more.

Bread Machine cocktails tend to be loaded with the food technologists best tricks, so avoid them if you want to avoid additives.

"Quick Rise" is what you probably should be using/buying as an occasional home baker.

It stores brilliantly and works brilliantly - and guess what - it was invented for home bakers!

However, its best to use less than the packet suggests, try using 3/4 of the advised amount... (its only 'quick' because they advise using excess yeast!) And VERY IMPORTANTLY, do mix it as the packet says, with the dry flour. That's how it works.

Sealed packs can be stored in an ordinary cupboard, probably for years. Open packs are best put in a closed glass jar in the fridge. (Humidity is the principal enemy of open packets.) Open packs remain usable for many months, tightly sealed in the fridge. Yes, if you have a vacuum packer ... :cool: However, there's no point in freezing it - it shouldn't have any water to be frozen!

For home baking, yeast is a trivial cost.

Use good stuff, not something bought in bulk and stored in hope.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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"Cake" is the only one likely to be sold in "block" form

I think it's quite possible the "block" referred to here means a vacuum packed brick of dry yeast, similar to the form I see SAF instant yeast sold in. Fresh or cake yeast is not that common in the US. (Note, I am not familiar with what is currently sold in Costco).

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Costco sells the Active Dried Red Star yeast in the vacuum-packed brick.

That is exactly the one I have. I just think after 2+ years of use it has gone very tired. Unfortunately, I have to throw about 1/2 away. From a cost perspective it is still way cheaper than buying those packets individually.

Guess I'm buying another block from costco. I will however use the freezer storage method.

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Guess I'm buying another block from costco. I will however use the freezer storage method.

It would probably be a good idea to cut the block into much smaller chunks, then freeze it. Because yeast is a living organism, it doesn't do very well when frozen and thawed repeatedly. By freezing the block in small pieces, you minimize the freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle.

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  • 1 month later...

If anyone could please help...I am trying to make Bagels. In Italy.

The recipe I found calls for 1 tsp fresh yeast to make a sponge and then another 1/2 tsp for the dough....

Can anyone tell me what the conversion would be if I were to use FRESH yeast?

Thank you so much. I really need a bagel.

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  • 3 years later...
  • 1 month later...

I use a bread machine for all my bread and pizza dough (I don’t get pleasure from kneading). I use SAF-instant dry yeast.

This morning I realized that I needed bread for lunch and I was too late to start regular bread. My bread machine cookbook has a recipe, for example, that uses 5.6g Active Dry yeast OR 7.5g Rapid Dry yeast which uses the "Regular" and "Quick" cycles on the bread machine.

Is there a substitution I could make using differing volumes of Instant Dry yeast which would get me the same results?

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

there is a difference between instant, dry active, 'fresh,' brewers, etc. - and yes due to the 'processing' some types have more viable cells per microgram than others, hence the current cooking heads twitter about using more/less of a specific type.


okay.  but it actually make a difference when you have a bread knife in your hand?

uhmmm, not really - as reported by many folks.....


sometime back I read there's only two strains of 'commercial' yeast in USA - they've been carefully 'husbanded' in order to keep them pure and 'working same as they did last century' - which is a pretty good idea, if the alternative is yeast that sort do something or other but differently from time to time or recipe to recipe......


I'd bet that European/Asian/South Pole companies that produce&sell yeast have strains that are genetically different that those found on the market shelf in USA.


brewers take extraordinary pains to keep their yeast strains "pure" - they are of the opinion 'different' yeast makes the brew taste different.


some recipes specific instant vs dry active - but that's usually due to timing considerations.  when the time is lessened / extended as per the 'how fast the yeast ramps up' the end result in terms of how much CO2 has been belched into the dough is quite likely the same.


I buy a bulk bag - typically one pound - keep it in the freezer, re-fill the cute little glass jar as needed, which also resides in the freezer.


yeast is pretty hardy stuff - quite some time back there was a project to multiple yeast found in Egyptian tombs and 're-create' the real thing Egyptian beer.  if the stuff can handle a couple thousand years in a tomb, the freezer likely won't bother it a whole bunch!

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  • 3 months later...

Six or eight months ago I was gifted with several packages of this yeast:


Perfect Rise Yeast.jpg


How long can yeast remain stored in a sealed package like this before it goes bad?  What about in an opened package (Toots used about 1/3 of a package recently, saved the rest).  Does yeast go bad?

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


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The packaged yeast I've used has always had a "use by" date stamped on the package. When I've tried using yeast well past the "use by" date it usually hasn't worked - not that it produced a bad taste, but it just wouldn't activate. Apparently the yeasts died. If your packages have those dates stamped, I'd believe them within a couple of months.

Aside from that, I think heidih covered it well.

Edited for brevity.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I buy yeast by the pound.


I put my working stock in one of those cute glass jars, kept in the fridge freezer section.


the remaining stock I keep in the chest freezer.  good for 3+ years.


kept in frozen temps, methinks the stuff is good for near forever.

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