There’s a huge ongoing debate about whether dry or fresh yeast is better for baking bread and I’m not sure if the debate will ever end.
Fresh yeast is said to be the type of yeast to use to get the best flavor, texture, and overall results, but these improvements aren’t very obvious. Whilst many people do believe that the fresh stuff is better, it’s fair to say that it’s not better in one aspect – the shelf life.
Fresh yeast should be wrapped up in parchment paper and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. This method prevents moisture loss or gain and allows the yeast to last longer. Alternatively, fresh yeast can be stored in the freezer after being wrapped up in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
Unlike dry yeast, the fresh yeast is very much active and extremely eager to get into some dough. For this reason, fresh yeast will last around a month when stored properly in the fridge whilst dry yeast can last for years.
Although fresh yeast is well regarded and recommended by plenty of bakers, people can be put off by its short shelf life and avoid using it.
This short life can be seen as a huge problem for a lot of people, but there are ways to extend the life of fresh yeast for weeks or even months.
Storing Fresh Yeast For The Short Term
If you plan on using your fresh yeast fairly quickly, you might not have to worry about how well you store it.
Using fresh yeast up within a week will mean that you just need to keep it airtight in your fridge. There’s nothing complicated to it.
If you need to keep your yeast good for a few weeks, you can still do so by keeping it in the fridge, but you need to make sure that it’s kept in very good condition.
To keep fresh yeast in good condition for up to 4 weeks you’ll need an airtight container and some parchment paper.
All you have to do is take your yeast, wrap it in the parchment paper, stick it in the airtight container, and put it in the fridge.
The parchment paper prevents too much condensation and moisture in the container and therefore allows the fresh yeast to stay fresh for considerably longer.
If you feel that the parchment paper is a bit too damp, you can regularly transfer the yeast to another parchment papered airtight container to keep it in good condition.
Storing Fresh Yeast For The Long Term
When storing your fresh yeast for 4 weeks or longer, you’ll want to introduce it to the freezer.
4 weeks is the longest that the majority of fresh yeast will last, so the freezer is a great way to dramatically increase its life.
If you’re not going to be using all of your yeast within a few weeks, you need to store it for the long term.
Freezing yeast isn’t hard, but you do need to make sure that you do it properly. If you’re not wrapping it up properly, it’ll most likely be damaged by the extreme temperature and not be able to successfully raise your dough.
To properly freeze your yeast, you’ll need a knife, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and a freezer-safe bag.
You need to cut the fresh yeast into manageable pieces (enough to raise a standard loaf of broad), wrap them tightly in cling film, then wrap them in aluminum foil, into a ziplock bag, and put into the freezer.
Fresh yeast should last at least 3 months in the freezer.
When it comes to using it, you should allow it to defrost in the fridge for 12-24 hours before making your dough.
Why Doesn’t Fresh Yeast Last Very Long?
When comparing the shelflife of fresh yeast to dry yeast, the dry stuff wins by a long shot.
The difference between fresh yeast and dry yeast is the level of moisture. As you can guess, dry yeast has no water, which is the main reason it can last for so long.
Anything that’s dried will last significantly longer than if it were hydrated.
Since fresh yeast contains moisture, it’s more prone to bacteria growth, so it can become unsafe to use after a while.
So, the main reason why fresh yeast doesn’t last very long in comparison to dry yeast is because of water.
Why Use Fresh Yeast Instead Of Dry?
Some people strongly recommend using fresh yeast instead of dry yeast for many reasons, but there aren’t huge differences between bread that’s made with dry yeast or fresh yeast.
All kinds of yeast will work well when making bread as long as you’re using them correctly, so one of the only reasons for using a certain yeast over any other is a personal preference.
If you’re anything like me and enjoy making things in more of a traditional sense, you might want to opt for using fresh yeast more often.
Personally, I like to use fresh yeast a lot because I believe that you get less of a ‘yeasty’ taste like you would with too much instant yeast, but I haven’t tested two loaves side by side.
I recommend that you experiment with different kinds of yeast by baking bread with both dry and fresh yeast. Only by doing this will you notice any differences and figure out which one you prefer to bake with.
There are many ways to store fresh yeast to keep it going for longer, so it’s up to you to figure out your preference.
How often you bake and the amount of yeast you buy should determine how you store it. If you’re going through all your fresh yeast within 3 weeks, you’ll easily be able to store it in a dry and airtight container in the fridge.
Buying fresh yeast and not using it will cause unnecessary waste, so you should freeze it properly for the future.
Correct storage is key to keeping your yeast in good condition, so make sure you’re being careful with it and keep an eye out for it going bad.
Any discoloration, molding, or bad smells on the yeast and you should throw it out right away.