The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mystery yeast

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Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

Mystery yeast


What the hey? The plan was to make a batch of ciabatta bread but even though the bag of yeast from Costco had an expiration date six months from now, when I proofed it, it showed no signs of life. The yeast dissolved just fine but all I got was cloudy water - no "blooms" floating to the surface like I'm used to seeing. I made a poolish from it anyway.
I purchased another bag of yeast the next day and got the same results. I made a quick trip to Safeway and bought a foil package of Fleischmann's yeast at an outrageous price and it reacted the same way. The poolish looked good so I finished the Ciabatta with the Fleischmann's. The bread turned out fine.
I made sure my water temps weren't too high (ninety degrees) So, I'm really curious as to why this yeast isn't acting the way it always has. Is this stuff on it's last legs even though it's well within the expiration date? Should I keep playing with it or get a refund from Costco? I don't trust it but wondering what's going on.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

When I used reverse osmosis water - which is pure pure pure - my yeast breads were lackadaisical.  I don't remember exactly how they behaved, but it was obvious enough for me to notice something wasn't right.  Could it be the water?  Spring water works better.

Make a list of things that were different from previous times.  The fact that the Fleischmanns behaved oddly too is interesting, especially when the bread turned out fine.

Rosalie

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Larry,

Were you using active dry yeast, which would require proofing; or an instant yeast, which would not?

I'm not sure why it would behave that way.  Since the bread turns out okay, I wouldn't worry about how the yeast behaves in the water, assuming that it is an instant variety. 

PMcCool

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

Rosalie, I did consider the water and tested a batach using distilled water with no difference.

Last night I retested both the old and new yeast in hotter (100 and 105) water. Although the yeast did not act the way I expected, and that yeasty aroma was missing,  it definitely foamed.  So I'm taking PMcCool's advice and not going to worry about it. But I'm walking away scratching my head.

 

Larry 

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Distilled water is the same as reverse osmosis.  It's too pure.  Tap water may (or may not) contain bad stuff.  Spring water with a few natural minerals is my favorite.

Rosalie

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

It's amazing.  For years there was no problem at all using tap water.  Then the levels of chlorine (fluorine and other ... ines) went way up and yeast started getting iffy.  Can chlorine be driven off by boiling the water?  Anyone specifically buy bottled spring water for use with their bread?

 

Cooky's picture
Cooky

I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge for bread-making.  Chlorine evaporates pretty quickly once the water is out of the tap, so unless your local water has high levels of chlorine, just letting the water sit overnight usually will do the trick.

It is worth checking with your local supplier to find out how they treat your tap water. Many systems these days use a carbon filtration process that greatly reduces the amount of chlorine they need to use.

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

My filter removes some chlorine, but I wonder how much.  I took some right out of the tap last night and although I have bubbles, I have no rising going on.  I'll be either getting a gallon of spring water (sans chlorine) or letting about a gallon sit out overnight before using it.  Hopefully that will help.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Chlorine leaves treated water through evaporation and eventually standing water 24 hours in an open container (with maybe a cloth to cover to keep out dust and bugs) will speed up this process.

In China, I boil the tap water and cool for use in rinsing vegetables and fruits but I purchase bottled water for drinking, bread and cooking, anything that doesn't boil for over 10 minutes.

In Austria, my county has excellent water quality (records here also publicly available) and we have an aquarium as well. When setting up water tanks for fish, the water in our tap can be used directly (chlorine will kill fish), but personally tastes better when allowed to stand for an hour "to air." Our pH is about 7 so we did reduce it in the aquarium to 5.5 pH for our Amazon fish by using a turf filter.

Also pH of the water is important, there are articles here about high pH levels also hindering yeast formation. A call (or google) to your local water authority or a pool testing kit will answer any Q's. --Mini Oven