Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast undergoes a few more processing steps than compressed yeast. After the live yeast is spun out of the fermentation vat and a good deal of the water is removed, it’s mixed with a small amount of oil and extruded in extremely thin little ribbons. Those ribbons are cut up into granules, then the granules are tossed in a powder of some, shall we say, “detritus”…dead yeast cells mostly, to give them a protective coat. At that point they’re fully dried, packed and shipped.

In this state active dry yeast can be kept at room temperature for a year, or frozen for several years. So it’s the longest-lasting of any packaged yeast product. The down side is of course that it must be re-awakened (“proved”) in warm water before it can be used.

And that’s a problem for a lot of people. I myself remember killing my first few packages of active dry yeast by immersing it in too-hot tap water. Plus you’re always wondering: are those enough bubbles? Is it really alive? It’s all a lot of uncertainty, which is why I don’t use active dry yeast anymore, and convert every active dry-using recipe I come across to instant yeast, which, while not completely idiot proof, is at least idiot resistant.

9 thoughts on “Active Dry Yeast”

  1. This is a lovely information! Thanks Joe!


    i even had a look if what yeast i got, and glad i got the idiot resistant hahaha

    also, would you say storing the instant yeast in the fridge advisable?

    1. You can to extend its life a bit, but unless you plan to leave it in there over a year it won’t make much difference. Room temperature is fine.

      – Joe

  2. When I use active dry yeast particularly in breads, they have a rather strong fresh yeast flavor to them. When using instant yeast I find that the flavors of the bread to shine through with out the taste of yeast. For years I have wondered why this is. I have two questions I would love to have answers for.
    one – Have you, or anyone else out there in the Internet pastry wonderland experienced the same thing?
    and two – Do you know what might be the cause of the overbearing fresh yeast flavor when using active dry yeast? (now that I read dead yeast cells are used to coat the live yeast, I suspect that might be the culprit, but hey. . that is just a suspicion.)

    1. Hey Kathy!

      I certainly have experienced that. Often a very pronounced yeast flavor happens when you don’t get a strong rise in either the initial rising or the proofing step. The dough ends up dense and heat has a harder time penetrating the loaf in the oven. Yeast is left alive after baking and that’s the strong flavor. Just make sure your loaves feel light for the size and are nice and spongy before baking and the problem should go away.

      But I can see why instant yeast would alleviate this problem because it activates as soon as it gets wet, so there’s less chance of a rising problem.

      – Joe

  3. Hi Joe,

    If I substitute dry active yeast in a recipe with instant yeast, should I be using the same measurment amount that is required in the recipe or should it be more or less?

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