Does anyone have brands or sources they recommend?
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
Health food or natural food stores are usually good sources. Be sure to check the expiration date.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
Possibly you shouldn't buy fresh yeast aka brewer's yeast unless you are going to go through a lot of it fast. As boulangere points out it is a perishable commodity.
You probably mean dried yeast, but you might consider asking a bakery for a little bit of their sourdough starter - doesn't get any fresher than that. Some bakeries sell starter for a few dollars, but many will give it away for free. If there's a good bakery that makes real sourdough bread in your town, they'll have plenty of starter to spare and probably be happy to give you some.
In England, one of the supermarkets (asda) gives fresh yeast to those that ask for it... You just go up to the bakery dept and ask, I normally make sure I have a bag of flourin my basket first...
Yeast for bread baking is not likely to be labeled as 'brewers yeast.' Live yeast in specific strains for home brewing will be labeled with the intended use (eg, Champagne yeast). Otherwise, what is called 'brewers yeast' is spent yeast from the brewing process, dried and bitter, for nutritional supplementation, and no longer alive. Most of what you find now as brewers or nutritional yeast has been cultured on a medium such as molasses, straying from its roots and better tasting. When you get fresh live yeast it should be refrigerated.
Mention of sourdough starter opens up another avenue. There are live yeasts in the air, which can be captured and cultured to make a starter. And if you live in San Francisco or Atlantic City, you will be able to make starters for extraordinary tasty results.
Fresh yeast pressed into cubes is ubiquitous in grocery stores in Europe. It feels somewhat like a very compacted marshmallow with a very soft feel to it and it crumbles into chunks once you break the cube. It is merely wrapped in foiled paper identical to the one European butter is wrapped in. It must be refrigerated, with the typical shelf life being about 20 days.It requires proofing prior to using it. It is a greyish-beige color and starts to develop a darker brownish layer on the outside the longer it sits- that's how you can tell if it is really fresh (besides the stamped date on the package) and if it has been handled properly. Each cube is about 30g and the most general recommendation is to use one cube for 1 kilo of flour. This is the general standard for packaging there. If you can find a well stocked Greek market they might have it.
If you are still in New York, Fairway Market usually has it, refrigerated in the area that also houses butter and cottage cheese. Usually in the conventional grocery area rather than the organics section. Next to the dried yeast packets. It is usually either Red Star or Fleischmann's--most likely the latter. I've used both dry and fresh yeast for challah; I proof it in about a cup of warm water with preferably a glug of honey or a bit of sugar if I'm out of honey.
Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.
I get mine from a wholesaler, but in a pinch I will buy it by the pound from my local Italian bakery. It is not advertised anywhere but one day I just asked and they sold it to me with no problem--and cheap at $1.50. I think the brand is Red Star.
Unless you are making a huge batch of something, you will have extra. It is okay to store it in the freezer tightly wrapped. After more than a month, it could still work, but the flavor might be affected. But it will work. Test a little bit in a bowl beforehand to make sure (mix with warm water and a dash of sugar. If bubbles form after 5-10 mins, you're good to go).
Yeast is really resilient. It has been on the planet a lot longer than us humans. It can survive in harsh conditions, like your freezer, but it is better to test and make sure before you ruin a batch of bread.
Anitaelectric, how interesting to know that you can freeze fresh yeast. Would you know if one can freeze prepared bread dough for later use? I suppose I should experiment with some next time I make a batch.
Creamtea, I freeze pizza dough all the time and if anything it actually improves it.
@Creamtea, Bernard Clayton talks about freezing bread in his book on breads and explains the details. I remember reading it a while back.
I live in the PNW of the US and every natural foods store (and there are a lot in my town) and even a few of the chain stores carry yeast in the refrigerated section in bulk. It may be perishable, as someone pointed out, but mine has lived happily in my fridge since, I think, last summer, when I bought it, so it can't be *very* dainty. Though the bulk yeast around here is easy to get, the bakers are a lot less generous with their sourdough starter--I've been turned down at two separate bakeries when I've asked to buy a gob of dough.
Thanks pierino and Droplet I'm going to try it.
try www.thebertinetkitchen.... they sell fresh l'hirondelle fresh bakers yeast. its the only place that i've found that send it in an insulated jiffy with an ice pack meaning that by the time it got to me it was still fresh and cold! the yeast freezes really well too!!
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