Yeast is an essential element in many kinds of bread. The fungi must be alive in order for the bread to rise. Therefore, proper storage is crucial, so the yeast doesn’t expire before you bake. Therefore, let’s find out all about storing bread yeast.
The best ways to store bread yeast:
- Keep unopened dry yeast in a cool, moisture-free place until the expiration date.
- Refrigerate fresh and opened dry yeast in an airtight container.
- Freeze unopened dry yeast up to 2 years and fresh yeast for 5 months.
This article will discuss each storage method in complete detail. Including all kinds of yeast like, dry, instant dry and fresh. Keep reading for important tips on each one.
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How To Store Yeast
There are different kinds of yeast like dry, instant dry yeast and fresh yeast. Depending on the yeast and if the dry yeast has been opened or not, the storage methods are different.
1. Keep Unopened, Dry Yeast in a Cool, Moisture Free Place
Unopened Dry Yeast (active and instant)
Dry yeast is the most common kind found in your average supermarket. It comes in a packet and probably can be found in most supermarkets’ spice/baking aisles.
Most unopened dry yeast, instant or active, has a shelf life of 2 years, according to the Red Star Yeast company. An instant yeast may also be labeled, “fast rising”, “highly active” or “fast acting”
Dry or instant bread yeast is relatively simple and low maintenance, especially if you’re alright with using dry yeast. For the most part, you can throw it into the back of your pantry and forget about it until you’re ready to make bread.
If you have not opened the packet, keep the yeast in one of the following places:
- A regular kitchen cabinet.
- On a shelf.
Make sure the shelf, cabinet or storage space is dry and not too warm 1. Don’t store the yeast near the stove, above the refrigerator, dishwasher or sunlit windows for maximum shelf life.
Sometimes dry yeast may be found in the refrigerated section. Typically, they can be stored in the cabinet also but always check the package for instructions.
If you don’t use all of the yeast, reseal the package to the best of your ability and store it in the refrigerator 2. Which leads us to the next section.
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2. Refrigerate Fresh or Opened Dry Yeast
Opened Dry Yeast (active or instant)
When expose to the air, heat or moisture, dry yeast is very perishable 3. Immediately after opening the package of yeast and removing the amount needed, the opened package has to be refrigerated or frozen.
The opened dry yeast has to be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator for up to four months after being opened. Depending on the type and condition of the original container, it may be used as long as it’s airtight.
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Unopened Dry Yeast (active and instant)
Unopened dry yeast can be stored in the refrigerator instead of a cabinet or shelf, especially if you can’t find a cool, moisture free place.
Fresh, Cake or Compressed Yeast
Cake yeast is also known as compressed or fresh. Many bakers prefer to use fresh yeast over dry when baking bread. Fresh yeast becomes active faster than dry yeast and stays active for a longer window of time, making it ideal for slow-rising bread.
Fresh yeast, however, has a much shorter shelf life. Therefore, it requires constant refrigeration below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain its freshness. Fresh yeast should be used by the expiration date on the package 4.
Once opened, store unused fresh yeast by following these steps:
- Wrap unused fresh yeast tightly in plastic wrap.
- Place it into an airtight container.
- Store in the refrigerator up to the expiration date.
3. Freezing Yeast
Freezing Dry Yeast
Although unopened dry yeast is typically stored in a cool cabinet, it can be stored in the freezer also 5. It can be frozen in its original packaging. After being opened, dry yeast can be frozen by following these steps.
How to freeze opened dry yeast:
- Fold the yeast package down to remove any excess air.
- Secure the yeast package with tape.
- Place the package into a plastic freezer bag.
- Squeeze out the excess air.
- Date the freezer bag.
- Store in the freezer up to six months.
Freezing Fresh Yeast
Although fresh yeast can be frozen, it’s not the best recommendation 6. In addition, fresh yeast should be deep frozen instead of using a traditional defrosting freezer. The freeze and thaw cycles of a defrosting freezer can change the texture of the yeast making it more pasty.
Many people do freeze fresh yeast and don’t notice a change in quality. To freeze fresh yeast follow these steps.
How to freeze fresh yeast:
- Divide the fresh yeast into usable portion sizes.
- Wrap the fresh yeast layers.
- First wrap the yeast tightly with plastic wrap, second with foil and third with plastic wrap again.
- Place the wrapped fresh yeast into a plastic freezer bag.
- Remove any excess air from the bag and seal it.
- Date the bag and store in the coldest part of the freezer up to five months.
If you want to save time on the day of an event or have a ready-to-bake bread queued up whenever you want, you can freeze balls of bread dough with the yeast already kneaded in.
Then, wrap each dough ball individually in wax paper or foil, place them into freezer bags and the freezer.
Keeping the dough in the freezer will retain the freshness of the yeast, and you’ll be able to have fresh-baked, homemade bread at a moment’s notice.
This method works best for rolls or small baked goods. When each dough ball is smaller, provided they are properly wrapped for protection against oxidation, it is easier to keep the yeast inside alive for a longer time.
How To Defrost Yeast
The best way to defrost fresh yeast is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator until thawed.
The best way to defrost dry yeast is to remove the amount needed and allow it to sit on the counter for one hour or until it reaches room temperature.
Use Dry Bread Yeast At Room Temperature
Prior to using refrigerated dry yeast, it should be removed from the cold and placed on the counter until it reaches room temperature. This typically takes about 30-45 minutes.
Remove only the amount of yeast which will be used for baking and immediately return the remainder to the refrigerator.
How To Test for Freshness Before Using Stored Yeast
If you have yeast stored in the cabinet for a while, it’s best to check the freshness before using it. This will avoid ruining a batch of bread and wasting ingredients.
If it hasn’t reached the expiration date on the packet, you’re probably safe to proceed without checking.
However, if the yeast has passed its expiration date, don’t dispose of it right away. Expiration dates are often cushioned to protect retailer liability.
The yeast company, Red Star, says:
“The date on the package is our recommended Use By date. Depending on how the yeast is stored, it may lose its activity before this date, or it might still be active after this date. The only way to know for certain if your yeast is active is to test it using the yeast freshness test”
Perform Proofing To Check the Yeast
Proofing is the process of checking whether the yeast is alive 7.
Essentially, proofing consists of mixing the yeast with warm water and watching the reaction. Use the following proofing methods to ensure the yeast is fresh and active.
To proof dry yeast, perform the following steps:
- Bring the dry yeast to room temperature.
- Using a one to two cup measuring cup, dissolve one teaspoon of granulated sugar into 1/2 cup of water at 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stir in 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry yeast until there’s no more dry yeast visible on the top.
- In three to four minutes, the yeast should activate and start rising.
- After ten minutes, the yeast should have risen up to the one cup mark on the measuring cup and have a rounded top.
- If this occurs, the yeast is very active and should be used in the recipe.
- If the yeast didn’t rise to the one cup mark, the yeast would have little or no activity and should be discarded.
To proof fresh yeast, perform the following steps:
- Using a measuring cup, dissolve one teaspoon of sugar into 1/2 cup of water between 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Crumble a small amount of fresh yeast into the water and stir until it is dissolved.
- Let the mixture stand for ten minutes.
- If the yeast bubbles and foams, the yeast is active.
- If no bubbles form, the yeast has no activity and should be discarded.
Dry active yeast does not need to be proofed unless you have reason to believe it might be expired. There’s no harm in proofing dry yeast. However, it may be an unnecessary step if the yeast is reasonably recent 8.
If the Stored Yeast is Expired
If you realize the yeast has expired after you’ve already mixed it into your dough, it’s not too late to save the bread.
Using a method described in Kansas State University’s newsletter, adding fresh yeast from a new packet to slow-rising dough can solve the issue 9.
Mix the new yeast with warm, not hot, water (between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit) to activate it. Then knead it into the dough and continue the usual baking procedure.
Wrapping Up The Stored Bread Yeast
It’s crucial to store yeast properly to keep it fresh until you’re ready to use it. Dry yeast can last long if keep it in a moisture-free place, away from direct sunlight. Fresh yeast requires a little more attention but also makes for faster-rising dough.
Refrigerate fresh yeast until the expiration date, keeping it sealed and for roughly 5-7 days after opening. Both dry and fresh yeast can be frozen, though dry yeast will survive in the freezer environment far longer than fresh yeast.
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- Utah State University: Cooking Food Storage
- RED STAR YEAST: Baking Tips
- RED STAR YEAST: Shelf Life and Storage: Dry Yeast
- Oregon State University: Storing Food for Safety and Quality
- Ohio State University Extension: Freezer Storage
- RED STAR YEAST: Shelf Life and Storage: Cake Yeast
- Bob’s Red Mill: How to Proof Yeast
- RED STAR YEAST: Yeast Freshness Test
- Kansas State University: Using Expired Yeast for Bread