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Why is dry yeast more common than fresh yeast?

This is just out of curiosity really, but why is dry yeast THE yeast in all recipes (from the US and the UK) requiring yeast that I've read? Where I live, Scandinavia, fresh yeast is the one to use in 99% of the cases where yeast is required. Is it the fact that fresh yeast is a perishable good?

asked by tranquility 9 months ago

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10 answers 968 views
F92231df 227e 4486 9cc8 279621ca1481  harvest party
added 9 months ago

Yes, I believe that is the answer. Dry yeast is shelf stable and can be stored for a much longer time than fresh yeast. When I was young (50 years ago) fresh yeast was much more commonly available in the United States - at least on the west coast. My mother baked bread at least once a week, so she would use up an entire package of fresh yeast, now many of us only bake when we have the time or inclination.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 9 months ago

I didn't know that it was more common years ago, interesting. I'm assuming fresh yeast in the US comes in rather large quantities? Here fresh yeast comes in 50g packages.

5931bcf1 b22d 41db bdb0 e856dde60d58  image
added 9 months ago

Where i live (Maryland/US), it is sometimes not easy to find fresh yeast. So I usually use dry yeast. I have always and successfully so been able to replace fresh with dry yeast. Formula is 100 % fresh yeast = 50% active dry yeast = 40% instant yeast. My favorite to use is instant yeast, so if a recipe calls for 10 grams of fresh yeast, I can instead use 5 grams of active dry yeast or 4 grams of instant yeast. I bake yeast leavened goods all the time, and this formula has never failed me.

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5931bcf1 b22d 41db bdb0 e856dde60d58  image
added 9 months ago

I forgot to add that I agree with C Sangueza. Fresh yeast expires way faster than dry yeast, and, unlike dry, it needs refrigeration. Also, my grocery store carries fresh yeast only sporadically. But I hear one can go to the bakery section of a grocery and ask for some
fresh yeast (even if it is not officially sold this way).

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23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 9 months ago

Dried yeast is much more convenient for storage, shipping, retail and every other step along the way because it doesn't require refrigeration and keeps very well. Also for consumers, for the same reasons. I think people on the average are now less inclined to bake bread on a regular basis, so a yeast that keeps well is an advantage. My mother kept using fresh yeast as long as it was available, but as sales dropped off, spoiled yeast became more and more of a problem- few stores in my area bother with it any more, and those that do sell it as a "gourmet" product, meaning the prices charged are outrageous.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 9 months ago

That makes sense. How much does fresh yeast cost? And how much does one package weigh?

Here a package of fresh yeast is 50g (less than 2 ounces according to Google) and it costs between 1-2 US dollars depending on if you want one for bread doughs or for sweet doughs (there's a third option that's organic but it costs a bit more).

23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 9 months ago

It's been so long, I'm not sure what they're charging now. Dried yeast is pretty variable anyway- I can get it in bulk at the supermarket at about 2 oz. for $8 or at Costco at 2lbs. for $4; you can also buy it in packets for totally outrageous prices. The coming thing here seems to be "instant" or "bread machine"yeast- another type of dry yeast that has smaller granules and a higher percentage of live yeast. It has the advantage that it can easily be added with the dry ingredients (that's the "instant" part). I've never seen the point for anything that I do, and have only seen it sold in packets for impossible prices, but it has become popular with recipe writers.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 9 months ago

Yes, dry yeast lasts much longer than fresh yeast. The only folks I know who use fresh yeast are professional bakers (I mean in bakeries!) and even many of them use SAF. I have found it keeps for a couple of years in my freezer. And they give very clear conversions on their package.

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4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 9 months ago

oh, and btw, I have found no merits in what is called "instant yeast." Regular dry yeast is quite rapid in development.

23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 9 months ago

As far as I can determine, the "instant" merely refers to being able to add it without hydrating it first- you can often do this with regular dry yeast anyway, and the time saved would be a few seconds. Possibly you could use a somewhat smaller amount,but I agree there seems little point in it.

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