Neither plant nor animal, this single-celled fungus has caused me much confusion over the years. I finally understand that there is no “right” answer when it comes to yeast.
Main Types of yeast
- Active Dry Yeast – This yeast is dry and dormant, and must be rehydrated. Always add it to warm (105-115 degrees F) wet ingredients and let it dissolve for 5 to 10 minutes. Also if substituting Active for Instant rise, add about 20% more. If your recipe includes sugar, include it with the wet ingredients to see if your yeast is still viable.
- Instant Yeast – A dry yeast developed in the past thirty years. It comes in smaller granules than active dry yeast, absorbs liquid rapidly, and doesn’t need to be hydrated before being mixed into flour. Less rising time is required, but that extra time helps develop flavor, so for artisan-style breads use less yeast or store the shaped loaves overnight in the refrigerator (before bringing to a full rise). Rather than call this yeast by its name–instant active dry yeast–the yeast companies all use a unique trademarked names. “Rapid Rise” is a catchy phrase, trademarked by Fleischmann’s. Red Star calls their instant yeast “Quick-Rise yeast”. SAF calls their yeast “Perfect Rise”. “Bread Machine Yeast” is an instant yeast that may include ascorbic acid, a dough conditioner.
- Fresh Yeast – also known as compressed or cake yeast, is active yeast. It has good rising qualities and produces excellent-tasting bread, croissants and Danish pastries. It is sold in tiny cakes in the refrigerated section of many supermarkets. Fresh yeast does not keep well; it will last about two weeks if refrigerated. The yeast should be pale gray-brown, fragrant, soft and crumbly, not hard, dark brown and crusty. Any mold growing on the surface is an indication that the yeast should be discarded. Fresh yeast should be proofed in tepid water (80-90 degrees F) without contact with salt or sugar. This yeast type is a good choice for breads requiring a long cool rise, or for breads made using the sponge method.
Bottom-line: The two dry yeasts are interchangeable. Just make appropriate adjustments in how you handle it based upon your recipe. Use 20% more active dry yeast, and dissolve it in 110-degree liquid for 10 minutes. For Instant dry yeast, add it directly to dry ingredients without dissolving.
Proofing vs Dissolving:
- Dissolving (or rehydrating) is not proofing, and only needs to be done with Active Dry Yeast.
- To proof (either type of dry yeast), dissolve in warm water, give it food (usually sugar) and wait to see it it bubbles. You don’t need to proof every time, only to see it the yeast is still viable. For example, as the end date approaches. you’re looking for “proof” that the yeast can multiply. Adequate “proof” is visible bubbles (a by-product of yeast multiplication) or a “yeasty” smell or froth at the top of the liquid or some other criterion easily accessible to humans without microscopes To proof yeast, you dissolve it and give it some food – a little sugar and/or flour added to the water is most common because they’re so convenient. Sprinkle the yeast over warm water (105-115 degrees F) and a pinch of sugar, and let it stand for 10 minutes until creamy and bubbly.
Store yeast in a cool dry place, or in the refrigerator once the package has been opened. If you store your yeast in the freezer, you can use after the expiration date. The proofing process will ensure that your yeast is still viable.
Where to Buy:
- I bought 2 pounds of Active Dry Yeast at CostCo for $3.50. While I’m not a member, I went with a co-worker and I should have enough yeast for 5 years. (they didn’t sell Instant Dry Yeast).
- The absolute most expensive place to buy yeast is the supermarket. It costs $8 for a small 4-ounce jar (1,800% more expensive than CostCo). Or worse, my supermarket sells 1/4-oz packets for 75-cents (2,700% more expensive than CostCo).
- You can order it only and pay for shipping. For example,