Food, Recipes

Yeast Essentials

What is the most common ingredient in the different types of bread? No, not flour. Although perhpas you might be right about that. So what is the second most common? It is yeast! Did you know that it is alive? 😀

Yeast is an organism that belongs to the fungus kingdom. There are over a thousand species, but only Saccharomyces cerevisiae is suitable for baking. The amazing organism is quite amazing as it is involved in a process called fermentation.

Fermentation consists in carbohydrates are converted into alcohol or into organic acid and carbon dioxide. A fun example is the pineapple kissangua, a fermented drink. It consists in boiling pineapple peels in sugary water. Once boiled, the fluid without the peels is then left for two days in appropriate temperature exposure (25 – 31 °C). During this time the sugar (carbohydrate) is converted to alcohol. Interesting, right? 😀

The fun part about the process is it goes beyond production of alcohol. It goes to our favorite corner, food. Bread, vinegar and yogurt are results of the fermentation. Let us focus on the bread, yeasty bread.


On the contrary of the kissangua fermentation, the one for bread will not convert the sugar into alcohol. The reason why the dough rises as the yeast consumes the sugar, and releases carbon dioxide. A respiration process basically. The air bubbles stay inside of the dough due to the action of gluten formed during the kneading process. One of the secrets to a nicely rised dough is to let the yeast breathe.


Bread is one of the greatest results of fermentation. Depending on the ingredients and the time left fermenting, the bread has completely different flavors and textures each time. We have to thank yeast for being such a life saver, a bread saver. There are several ways of talking about yeast, but the important point is to get acquainted with the types existent in the market as it can affect the result of your baked good.

Fresh Yeast

Block of Fresh Yeast

Looking at this photo on the left what do you see? To me it looks like a frozen dark butter, but then I have a weird imagination 😀 It is fresh yeast!

Soft, crumbly and light sandy, fresh yeast has a very high moisture content (70%) making it more perishable than the other types of yeast. Notice that the moisture helps the yeast to be active. Normally used by professional bakers, fresh yeast is not an easily accessible like active dry yeast because of its perishable status.

If you find and want to use fresh yeast, certain precautions need to be taken with it can retain its properly for a while longer. It can be refrigerate for a maximum of 10 – 12 days or freeze it up to 1 – 2 months. Take a careful look into your yeast. If the fresh yeast has sour taste, brown color and hard in texture, do not use it.

Mentioned above, the yeast is a live organism needing the right temperature to be activated. Let the thermometer be your best friend when dealing with yeast.  In the case of fresh yeast, the temperature should be between 85-95 °F (29 – 35°C).

Active Dry Yeast

Active Dry Yeast

Grain like and characteristic smell, active dry yeast is one of the three most common types of yeast. So I asked myself why the name “Active Dry”? Curious enough because of the lack of moisture the yeast becomes inactive, and this consequently increases the storage time. In comparison to fresh yeast, the shelf life of the active dry yeast is much larger. If refrigerated, it will last for 3 – 4 months and if frozen, 5 – 6 months. Make sure you store the yeast in a airtight container. Any moisture will decrease the shelf life of the yeast.

Now onto activating. In many yeasty recipes found online, it is very common to add the a fluid mixed with yeast into the dry ingredients. The fluid will add the moisture and provide the ideal temperature for yeast to come to life. The temperature should be ideal, otherwise the yeast will either remain dormant or die. The range to activate the yeast is 85°F-130°F (29 – 54°C).

After adding the fluid at the right temperature, you will need to wait for a while in order to be activated (5 – 10 minutes). Good way to practice patience because the leavening good takes much longer to bloom.

Instant Dry Yeast

Comparison on Dry Yeast

Probably the favorite yeast type and the most used at the house. Now you can ask me why. Is it not obvious? There is no need to wait for the yeast to be activated. You can straight to the recipes and it will come beautiful. The trick is to allow the dough to grow plenty so your baked goods will have a stronger taste of yeast.

As shown in the photo, instant dry yeast is considerably smaller in terms of grain diameter. It contains more living cells than the active dry yeast. For that reason you can the dry ingredients without having to wait for it to be activated.

Now you know more about your yeast, your adventure into the baking world of yeasty goods can start.

Until next time, Hungry People.

Featured Photo: Pixabay


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