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March 3, 2019

Homemade bread is so much in these days. You also decided to bake one for your family. Read a bunch of recipes, glanced through awesome eye-popping bread images, and fully geared up now to bake at home.

But, that pack of Yeast for bread making has always looked complicated to you. And you have failed to understand the relationship between dry yeast and instant yeast. And that’s not all. Things take an ugly turn when you read a recipe that calls for fresh yeast. Now, what is that?

I have also seen that people have a lot of confusion about gluten which I have addressed in my article “All you need to know about Gluten”. It will be an eye-opener for you.

Every recipe creates a new confusion in your mind. Some say to add the yeast directly and others ask you to proof the yeast or activating the yeast first. And all of a sudden the eye-popping bread images start to look monstrous.

The story narrated above is a true story of Sonia Gupta. Any similarity to any other aspiring baker is purely coincidental.

When I had these questions, I really could not find a suitable resource who could solve these puzzles for me. However, I am not going to leave you to break your head in the dark.

I have been addressing these questions with my candidates during my healthy baking workshops and I will try to solve the questions on types of yeast for bread making in this article for all of you. Once you have understood to deal with yeast, half of the battle is won.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is the backbone of bread baking. Some like bread made of commercial yeast and some like bread made with sourdough starter. But what rules the majority of the market is the commercial yeast bread.

Yeast is one of the three main leavening agents along with Baking Soda and Baking Powder. You read a lot about baking soda and baking powder in my article difference between baking soda and baking powder. Today we are going to focus only on yeast.

Yeast is a type of single-celled living organism and there are more than 1500 species of yeast known to mankind. Out of all the different varieties of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used in the kitchen. This sugar-eating fungus is instrumental in baking bread, making wine, and brewing beer since ages. This fungus is often called the Bakers Yeast or the Brewers Yeast.

Yeast feeds on sugar and releases carbon dioxide and ethanol as its by-products. The carbon dioxide helps bread rise, makes them soft and fluffier, contributes to the flavor, and provide texture. Yeast, as we said is a living organism, and will keep releasing carbon dioxide until it is exposed to a heat of more than 50 °C or more after which it dies.


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3 Types of Yeast for Bread Making

There are 2 types of yeast available in the market viz. fresh yeast and dry yeast. Both of them differ in their moisture content which we will discuss later in the article. Dry yeast is further available in two different types’ i.e. instant dry yeast and active dry yeast which have different yeast varieties.

Fresh Yeast

Fresh yeast, also known as baker yeast is widely used commercial yeast in bakeries or large manufacturing units. A brick of fresh yeast appears mostly like a 500gm of a butter brick. Fresh yeast is almost 70% of moisture and therefore it is kept in a refrigerator.

Fresh Yeast

The shelf life of fresh yeast is about 2-3 weeks and that is one big reason that occasional bakers or home bakers who are less on bread prefer not to use it. However, large manufacturing units and bakeries prefer to work with fresh yeast.

A general belief is that bread made with fresh yeast taste better. In my observation, I did not find any considerable difference in the taste with my bread. Further using fresh yeast and storing it is more complex than dry yeast.

Active Dry Yeast

Dry yeast is a further compressed version of the fresh yeast. The moisture content is reduced from 70% to about 8% in any form of dry yeast. Active dry yeast comes in a dry granular form where a live yeast cell is surrounded by dormant yeast cells.

Dry Yeast

You need to activate such yeast before using it in your ingredients. The activation process is simple. Add yeast granules in warm water with sugar in it. If it froths, it means the yeast is still alive and you can then use it in your recipe.

Active dry yeast can stay good for up to 2 years if stored in an airtight container and kept in the freezer.

Instant Yeast

Instant yeast also comes in small granules but the granules of instant yeast are going to be much smaller than of active dry yeast. In instant yeast, almost all the yeast cells are live cells and thus you can directly add the yeast in your recipe.

Instant Yeast

I, however, recommend activating the yeast as mentioned above. If Yeast was not stored properly or if it came in contact of moisture, chances of it going bad are high. Instead of spoiling the other ingredients, I prefer to activate the yeast first and if it froths, then only use it in the recipe.

Instant yeast can stay good for up to 2 years if stored in an airtight container and kept in the freezer.

Alternating Fresh and Dry Yeast in a recipe

Depending on what you are comfortable with and what you have in your kitchen, you might need to know the amount in which fresh yeast and dry yeast can alternate each other. The formula is fairly simple. When you need to use Dry yeast against fresh yeast, just 1/3rd of the quantity of fresh yeast. And when you need to use fresh yeast against dry yeast, use 3 times of the quantity of the dry yeast.

Instant yeast and active dry yeast are interchanged in the same quantity.

Conversion Formula

15gm of fresh yeast = 5gm of dry yeast (instant or active)

Rapid Rise Yeast

You will also find another variety of instant yeast in the market called rapid rise yeast. The granules are much finer than instant yeast, almost like powder, and hence can absorb water much water than other variants. Due to this, rapid rise yeast works faster and the bread dough rises quickly, reducing the overall time consumed in baking bread.

Does Salt kill Yeast?

I have heard this statement from many senior folks and read it in many recipes. And I always felt that if it is so then why we would even use a pinch of salt. Then a few people told me not to put salt directly on yeast because that kills the yeast, and I was like really? If salt kills yeast, it should kill it anyway irrespective of if we pour it on top of yeast or pour it sideways. The thoughts did haunt me for quite a time before I could really find the answer.

So like sugar is the food for yeast, salt is what controls the growth of yeast. Alright, it is not killing it literally, but salt works as a stabilizer. More the salt, less is the growth of the yeast which we termed as killing the yeast.

Further, not to pour it on top of yeast is all myth. Put it anywhere. It’s just that pouring ingredients one on top of other will make it difficult to remove an ingredient if you mistakenly added more than required quantity.

What can kill yeast?

Heat is what will kill the yeast. Heat stays happy between 30 °C to 40 °C. More than that is harmful to yeast. Certainly, yeast does not survive anything more than 60 °C.

Ready to knead the dough now. Follow my Step-by-Step Dough Recipe.

Ready to bake, here are my two popular bread recipes for you:

Tutti Frutti Bread Recipe

Healthy Breadsticks Recipe


Whether fresh or active or instant yeast, use any, the results are more or less going to be the same. My personal choice, I find it easy to work with dry yeast instead of fresh yeast. Lesser the amount of yeast means longer the dough rising time and better the taste.

I am hoping that all your doubts related to yeast have been answered, but if not, do not hesitate to leave your comments in the comment section. If you like our post, then please share it with your friends and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

About the Author Sonia Gupta

Founder of AnyBodyCanBake, Noted Entrepreneur, Celebrated Baker, Certified Baking Instructor, and Accomplished Food Blogger.

  • Thankyou so much. Like you I was also confused if salt kills the yeast then why only if we pour it on top of yeast, it should kill yeast no matter where we pour it, But it got cleared today, thanks a lot.

  • Hi Sonia…I must say that you are a true dedicated teacher.who solves all the doubts in such a way that every student of yours may get distinction in your subject.sonia I am afraid that yeast is safe or healthy for daily consumption or not . please let me know if I can give bread or something like daily to my kids.tia

    • Dear Naina,
      “Thank you so much for all your kind word. It means a lot.
      Yeast is completely safe to use. Don’t worry about that.”
      Happy baking!

  • Hi Sonia. if you can help me I have a question. Can we use dry debittered brewers yeast when we bake a bread? If yes, can you give me the recipe please. Thanks

  • Thank you Sonia. Your article helped me get much deeper understanding of yeasts. I have been baking breads and using dry yeasts. Thanks for explaining the differences amongst yeasts so brilliantly.

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