The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fresh vs. Dried Yeast

celestica's picture

Fresh vs. Dried Yeast

Are there any advantages to using fresh cake yeast as opposed to dried?  I've read that the flavour is better and it's more "natural"  but I'm not so sure.  I can get fresh yeast here but it's 50 km. away along mountain roads and I'm not feeling that motivated right now...

nbicomputers's picture

i am sure that most members will know what i am going to say

fresh yeast it much superior to dry is any form

both for flavor and action

it works faster.  the yeast cells are in better condition than dry.  dry hax a large percentage of dead cells and if it is not rehydrated correctly that percentage goes up even more.. the dead cells have a effect on the dough softening it causeing the glitem to degread resulting in less oven spring and and changes in texture of the product.

fresh yeast can be stored in the fridge for 2 months and will be fine. 

other than having to keep if cold it requires no spicial handeling and can be crumbled directly into the mixer or flour.

also it workes better in frozen dough than dry yeast. i have forzen dough for as long as 16 weeks only to have the dough rise and bake perfectl when needed.

i am sure there are many others with diferent points of view but after using hundreds of pounds of yeast (both dry and fresh) during my many years of baking the diference in the finished products is very clear

RFMonaco's picture

can hardly ever find the stuff without buying a ton of it.

peckerdunne's picture

I sometimes ask the bakers in the instore bakery of my local supermarket (Tesco) for some yeast. They usually give me a couple of ounces for free.

ericb's picture


I bought a little thing of fresh yeast once, made a loaf of French bread, and did not perceive any improvement over instant yeast. It tasted like French bread. So, I never bothered with it again.

On the other hand, there are a lot of very experienced people out there who only use fresh yeast for the exact reasons you cite. They have used fresh yeast more than one time, so I certainly trust their opinions. 

Here's what I suggest. When the weather gets a little nicer and you have time to safely drive on the mountain roads, pick up some fresh yeast and some instant yeast. Bake two loaves, one with each, and see how it compares. You may find that you prefer fresh over instant. Or you may (like me) find that you can't tell the difference.

Now, I do know that many recipes out there call for a ridiculous amount of yeast. If your bread tastes "yeasty," consider finding a recipe that uses less yeast. By using delayed fermentation or a poolish, you can get away with as little as 1/2 tsp for a big loaf. Since both of these methods allow you to start with less yeast, any "off" flavors you perceive from instant yeast will be minimized.

Of course, you could always use a home grown sourdough starter and eliminate the issue entirely. But that's another thread! :)


Eric Brown

fancypantalons's picture

Bah, IMHO, don't bother.  50km is *not* worth it for what I would contend is the minor (I would actually contend non-existent) benefits a home baker would see with fresh yeast.  Even some professional bakers, these days, are moving to instant yeast, as it's plenty effective, inexpensive, and doesn't have the shelf life issues of fresh yeast.

That's not to say you shouldn't run some experiments if you really feel the need.  But don't be surprised if you discover it really isn't worth the effort.

baltochef's picture

In my opinion, fresh yeast does yield a finished baked product that tastes better than one made with standard dry active yeast..In my opinion the SAF instant yeasts yield a better tasting finished baked product than does standard dry active yeast..For the home baker I would recommend purchasing the SAF instant yeasts in the 500g package and storing it in the freezer in an airtight canister with a silicone seal..

The problem with fresh yeast purchased in grocery stores is that the freshness is questionable..Modern Americans simply do not bake their bread suply at home any longer..Regardless of the popularity of forums such as TFL, fewer than 1% of consumers nationwide choose to bake fresh bread in the home..What this means is that the freshness of the little cakes of yeast, and therefore the yeast's viability, as purchased in the average grocery store, is questionable due to slow turnover..In the past 10-15 years I have had as many failures as I have had sucesses with fresh yeast purchased in the grocery store..

What prompted me to change was the discovery of the King Arthur Baker's Catalog, anf their praise for instant yeasts..Even then it took working in a soup kitchen / artisan bakery that used SAF instant yeasts to get me to try them..Something that is fresh, never having been frozen or killed, is to be preferred to a dried product..Unless one can obtain their fresh yeast from a local cooperative professional baker that is purchasing fresh yeast every week, thus insuring its freshness, I would recommend sticking with the instant yeasts that can be purchased mail order, or through the internet..I have also had spotty results from furchasing instant yeast in grocery stores..It is my belief that fresh yeast, dry active yeast, and instant yeast that is sold in grocery stores sometimes sits unpurchased for long periods of time, thus reducing its effectiveness..


sphealey's picture

Are you suggesting that SAF uses a different strain of yeast than Red Star or Fleishchman's, and that this different strain tastes different?  Because I will go back to my question from the previous thread:  if I start a poolish with 2 or 3 grains (meaning individual granules, not grams or grains weight!) and build the dough up from there how is the dough going to know the different between that and being started with compressed fresh yeast?


davec's picture

I've never used fresh yeast, but it sounds logical that it should have better flavor than dried.  Except--in all the research I have done on sourdough, it seems that the food scientists always ignore the yeast component, and concentrate on the bacteria strains and their effects on flavor.  They justify this by saying yeast has little or no effect on bread flavor--and they are not talking about sourness alone.

Admitedly, I am a novice in all this, but Bruce's post is the first one I have seen in which instant yeast was touted over active dry yeast for flavor.  The usual claims are that it works faster than ADY, you need less of it, and that it may be mixed directly into the dough.

Until a relatively short while ago, I was purely a bread machine guy, happily turning out my one whole-wheat loaf a week.  I used active dry yeast, because I could buy it cheaply at Costco in one-kilo packages, and store it in the fridge.  I always put the yeast in last, nestled carefully in a small indentation on top of the flour, because that's what my bread machine manual said to do.  I figure I used about 8 grams per loaf, and made fewer than 50 loaves a year, so one kilo would last at least 2 1/2 years.  When I heard about the New York Times no-knead bread, I had to try it.  I didn't have instant yeast, I had the last little bit of a package of ADY, so it was at least 2 1/2 years old.  So--I used the 1/4 tsp Lahey called for, mixed it directly into the flour as he did with his "Instant" yeast.  It worked fine, as it did every time I made the recipe.

So, my own experience shows that, at least for one-loaf quantities and long fermentations, as well as for bread machine applications, the two are interchangable in performance.

I would love to see someone bake identical loaves using fresh yeast, active dry yeast, and instant yeast, have 10 people do a blind tasting, and post the results.  It won't be me, because I'm using only sourdough starter these days, and I still have most of a kilo of ADY to get rid of.  But I would very much like to see the results.


belle's picture

Bruce and others..

I am curious why you think the store-bought dried yeast may have been sitting on the shelf too long...I always check the expiration date - do you think that information may not be accurate?



Rosalie's picture

You don't know how the store stored it.  I remember one time trying to decide between the bottles of oil on the top shelf and the bottles on the bottom in the grocery store.  I decided on the ones on the top, but when I put my hand up to grab one, I fell quite a bit of warmth - possibly from the lights.  The ones on the bottom were cooler, so I took one from the bottom.

While I'm at it, the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated talks about storage of various ingredients of interest to us bakers.  It talks about keeping dry yeast in the freezer, but says it shouldn't be kept there more than four months.  I KNOW you can keep dry yeast in the freezer for a lot longer than that ... a LOT longer.


waylander2002's picture

Ive just purchased fresh yeast in a polish shop for 63 cents it goes under the name dromowe and was only 63 cents for the pack with a months expiry on it.

ssor's picture

But there are so many variables in bread making that fresh or dry yeast is only going to make a noticable difference if you make exactly the same recipe on the same day using fresh in one and dry in the other. Making one this week and the other next weekwill be useless. After you have made the two batches then you do a blind tasting with several people.

leap's picture

I am sorry but anyone who can't see, smell or taste the difference between bread baked with fresh yeast as against dried yeast should probably give up on bread baking and go to the nearest vet to have themselves put down.

The basic rule of thumb is that if your recipe calls for say, 20g of fresh yeast, you can substitute it with half the amount of dried yeast, so, 10g. The difference between the two is profound, as different as ordinary yeast bread or sourdough bread.

I'm lucky because I'm in Nantes, France, and I have a fantastic Boulangerie Patisserie right next door. Bernard, the Master baker prepares fantastic breads and all sorts of pastries, cakes and tarts etc etc. He has become Mon Ami and so I share all sorts of recipes eg Carrot cake, traditional Christmas cake, Hot Cross buns etc etc with him and give him homemade Cherry brandy, Plum Eau de vie, Jams and so on, all year round. This keeps him on side and he sells, or usually gives me special flour mixes and Fresh yeast as required. He also gives me advice and tips for my bread baking exploits. It doesn't get much better than that. Of course, he is French and therefore completely mad which makes it all good fun in the bargain.

BUT no matter how skilled you are or how good the recipes and techniques, sadly you will never be able to make bread like Bernard's in a domestic oven. You can make OK bread, but it will never be as good as that cooked in a professional oven.

My project is to construct a clay, wood fired, oven in the garden with which I should be able to get that wow factor. If you want to do the same, here are two great video links and you should be able to build an oven which could last for years for as little as €150.

How to Build an Earthen Oven - Jas Townsend and S…:

Baking Bread in the Earthen Oven Part 2 - Cooking…:

Jas Townsend is a very interesting fellow and if you look at his websites and videos you will find all sorts of cool things to do.

This is a great project for family and friends and the kids will love it. Invite some chums round for a BBQ, stick a glass of wine in their hands and get them mixing the clay and sand with their feet. It's a bit messy and does get in your toes, but Hey! I know people who spend thousands in spa hotels to lie down in special mud baths. Your mud is free and every bit as therapeutic.

Clay ovens can reach well over 450c so you can cook really good pizzas in a minute or so, then bake breads, pies, pastries as the temperature drops and finally leave a pot of Pork and Bean Crock to slowly cook over night. You are only limited by your imagination.

Happy days!

Kevin_000's picture

Thank you for this wonderfully evocative and uplifting post. Great images and it has brought a smile to my day.



Kevin_000's picture

I have a background which has brushed up against some quality breweries. Beer breweries. I have also brewed beer for many years in the 'proper full fashion . e.g. sparging and all. I also bake bread.


This is my take based on my experience.

1 Yeast has a curious quality. The material it is fed on during its production is the flavour it will impart to the product in which it is used.  There is a famous small brewery which, when it was setting up, bought yeast which had been grown using apples. Many hundreds of brewing cycles on it still imparted a gentle apple flavour to the beer. Why? The brewer did not know. The beer was very popular.

2  When brewing beer to emulate a commercial product it is essential to get a yeast as close to the one used in the brewery as you can. I used to make Guinness. In those days it was possible to buy a bottle of Guinness with some live yeast sediment. Using that my Guinness was sublime. Use any standard yeast it was poor at best. This is perhaps point one repeated. All home winemakers know that to make a wine of this or that style they need to buy the yeast of that type.

Bread yeasts are  no different in these respects.

3 Bread making is a brewing process. As we all know a long fermentation imparts flavour to the bread. Just as does beer.

So my take is that a good, well controlled, fermentation of the dough is crucial and that the different yeasts used will impart different flavours.

So one fresh yeast will be different from the next.

My experience is that the fresh yeast I get from Sainsburies UK imparts a better flavour than instant yeast form Allinsons, Doves Farm, of Fermipan.  I suspect it is these are all the same anyway.

Recently I switched to Levure and that was definitely superior in action and flavour to the Sainsburies fresh yeast.

I would like to try some of these organic fresh yeasts where they specify that the yeast was cultured on organic material and not a cocktail of chemical nutrients. But I might just try Levure dried (not instant yeast) first.

Maybe this leads me to starting my own yeast lavain method and just keep my culture going. I am not too keen on sour dough starter bread.

Comments very welcome indeed.







Danni3ll3's picture

It is the slow rise, time spent taking care of it, the waste of flour, or the flavour you don't care for?

If it is the flavour, you can manipulate your starter to be more or less sour. Mine is definitely on the less sour side. It has a bit of a tang but not much.

As to the time spent taking care of it and the potential flour waste, those can be fixed too. I don't baby mine anymore and I certainly don't throw flour down the sink either.