When baking in the kitchen, it's essential to ensure that the ingredients you cook with are fresh. Fresh ingredients can offer better flavor and texture—especially when working with baked goods. For most ingredients, it's easy to tell if something is fresh or not. Fresh ingredients will smell, feel and taste as they're supposed to. In comparison, spoiled ingredients may emit an unpleasant odor, slimy texture, or sour taste.
Yeast, however, is one ingredient that has a tricky expiration date. When stored properly, dried yeast can last for a long time. And even after it has spoiled, it doesn't show many signs of it. While old or inactive yeast won't immediately produce an off-putting taste, smell, or texture, it can ruin your baked goods. When added to a recipe, inactive yeast won't work as it should, resulting in a dense and stiff dough rather than a light and airy one. If you recently purchased yeast and are worried about how long it will last, keep scrolling. In this guide, we'll teach you how to store active dry yeast so that you don't have to worry about it spoiling before the expiration date.
How Long Does Yeast Last?
Compared to fresh yeast, active dry yeast has a remarkable shelf life. When left unopened, dry yeast will remain active for about two years. Chilling the dry yeast can extend that life even more, which is why many bakers prefer to store yeast in the refrigerator or freezer. That being said, it's important to note that the yeast shelf life starts as soon as it's created and packed for commercial use. So, if you happen to purchase a packet of active dry yeast that has been sitting on the shelf for a while, it won't last as long. When purchasing yeast, always look for the best-buy date on each package and buy the freshest one.
Once opened, dry yeast will last four months in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer. On the other hand, fresh yeast will last around two weeks in the fridge and should not be frozen.
How to Store Open Active Dry Yeast
There's one rule to keeping opened yeast as fresh as possible—always store it in an airtight container. Any exposure to air and moisture will shorten the lifespan of the yeast and cause it to spoil. If the yeast you purchase comes in a packet, fold over the top of the package and seal it with tape. If the yeast is in a bag, remove as much air from the bag as possible, and then seal it in a zip-top bag. For even more protection, transfer the yeast to a glass jar and seal it with an airtight lid.
No matter how you choose to store the yeast, always remember to label it. Labeling the bag, container, or jar of yeast with the date you opened it and the use-by date will help you remember to use it before it expires.
Storing Yeast in the Freezer Is the Best Way to Extend its Shelf Life
If you like to buy yeast in bulk, then storing it in the freezer is an excellent option. Though some manufacturers claim that freezing dry yeast results in damaged yeast cells and less flavor, it's not actually the case. Instead of hurting the yeast cells, freezing them puts the cells in a state of suspension, allowing the yeast to thrive until you're ready to use it.
Different Types of Yeast
Though several different types of yeast are used to create baked goods, there are three main subtypes: Fresh yeast, active dry yeast and instant yeast.
Active Dry Yeast
The most common of the three, active dry yeast, is your typical baking yeast. It's an all-natural form of yeast and the go-to for most bakers as it produces the best results when making baked goods. When activated correctly, active dry yeast produces the ultimate taste and texture, creating light, airy and flavorful doughs. Unlike instant yeast, active dry yeast cannot be mixed with the dry ingredients of a recipe. Instead, it must be combined with water and fully dissolved before being used in recipes.
How to Keep Active Dry Yeast Alive
One of the most challenging parts of storing yeast is keeping it alive. When stored improperly or left out for too long, yeast can go inactive. To activate the yeast and check its freshness before using it, you'll need to combine it with water and a bit of sugar before mixing it with other ingredients. This process is known as proofing and is always recommended when using active dry yeast.
Using Dry Yeast After Freezing
Now, we mentioned that storing dry yeast in the freezer is the best way to extend its shelf life, but how do you use it once it has been frozen? When using frozen dry yeast, there's one crucial step that you must follow—always allow the yeast to return to room temperature before you use it. If the yeast does not return to room temperature before it's combined with a warm liquid, the chances are it won't work the way it is supposed to. If you're working with a large amount of yeast, we recommend measuring the amount needed for the recipe and placing it at room temperature for one hour before activating it.
Tips for Proper Yeast Storage
In this article, we've reviewed a lot of information regarding caring for and storing active dry yeast. While the many storage methods are similar, they do share unique qualities. Here's a quick recap of everything you should know about proper yeast storage.
Airtight Is Best
No matter what type of yeast you're working with, always store it in an airtight container. This will ensure that moisture from the air and other food products doesn't activate the yeast before you can use it.
To extend the shelf life of your yeast, store it in the fridge or freezer. Freezing yeast places the cells into a state of suspension, keeping them fresher for longer.
Expiration Dates Are a Guideline
While yeast may last longer than expected, it can also spoil sooner if stored improperly. Therefore, check the expiration date and the health of the yeast before using it in a recipe.
Proof Yeast if You Are Uncertain
If you're worried that the yeast on hand might be spoiled, proof it before adding it to a recipe. Doing so will help you better determine if the yeast is active and could prevent you from ruining a great recipe.
When storing opened yeast, remember to place labels on the outside of the packaging indicating the given expiration date. Doing so will help encourage you to use the yeast before it expires and prevent you from using inactive yeast.
How to Use Active Dry Yeast
When properly stored, active dry yeast can be used to create an endless amount of delicious recipes. If you're searching for new ways to use the active dry yeast in your pantry, try out one of the tasty dishes below.
Gluten Free and Vegan Yeast Waffles
The perfect breakfast to wake up to, these Gluten Free and Vegan Yeast Waffles are made with our Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. When combined with active dry yeast, this recipe produces light, crispy waffles that people with celiac disease can enjoy symptom-free. Make these waffles on a mellow Sunday afternoon, or prepare them ahead of time and heat them up for a quick weekday breakfast to enjoy as you head off to work.
No-Knead Artisan Olive Bread
We love a great bread recipe and this No-Knead Artisan Olive Bread is one of our favorites. Loaded with flavor, it's simple to make and doesn't require the extra 30 minutes of kneading that most bread recipes demand. Whip up a loaf the next time you're searching for a delicious dinner side, and you're sure to have the table talking about your excellent baking skills. Made with active dry yeast, it uses a slow fermentation method to create a chewy loaf with a light and airy rise.
Use the information above to ensure that you're storing active dry yeast properly. Whether you choose to keep yeast in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer, as long as you're caring for it, it will produce great-tasting and textured baked goods. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, happy baking!
Do you use baking yeast often? We'd love to hear about the recipes that you create with this convenient ingredient. Share your favorites with us in the comments below.