The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is there a taste difference between brands of yeast available at supermarkets

FredR's picture

Is there a taste difference between brands of yeast available at supermarkets

Is there a taste difference between the three or four commercial brands of yeasts available at local supermarkets.  My local supermarket carries only one or two different brands of yeast at a time and keeps switching off and on among the three or four top brands.  My sister in law (a wonderful baker) swears that she can tell the difference when she makes her signature parker house rolls.  She doesn't like Red Star.  So it got me to thinking that among the many bakers here there might be some who have had experience with this.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Red Star yeast is made by the folks that make SAF yeast. They also make the yeast that many American supermarkets carry, Best Choice. It's all made in Mexico but that has nothing to do with its quality. The SAF brands are well liked by a lot of bakers. I bought a 2# bag of Red Star active dry yeast at Costco a few months ago, threw it in a container, and put that in the freezer. It's been working since.

I've tried Fleischmann's and found that it also worked well. Usually, it's priced higher here in the KC area supermarkets.

I've started growing or "cultivating" a sourdough starter to but that doesn't mean that I'll ditch the Red Star ADY. I expect to find more differences in the flavor of my starter due to using different brand flours in feeding than using different brand dry yeasts.

That's been my experience but YMMV so do post when you have more info after you've done some experimentation.

tabasco's picture

SAF Red Stars Website:

I don't really know the answer to your question, but I did write to SAF customer service because I was confused about the different kinds of yeasts they offered and the woman there wrote that the SAF and Red Star instant yeast formulas for retail were the very same product~~and that instant yeast and bread machine yeast were identical within the two brands, just marketed differently.  Descriptions of the different yeasts can be found in the link above.

I don't know why they feel they have to make it so confusing!?!

I didn't write to Fleischmann's with the same query, but just wanted to add that Fleischmann's of course were/are giants in the spirits industry and the baking yeast industry because of their early development of marketable yeast strains in the late nineteenth century (when they built their yeast plant here in Cincinnati.)

And also (I think this was the SAF lady again as my source), most groceries have stopped stocking the cake yeasts because there aren't enough retail buyers in the market place these days so that it is difficult for the groceries to keep it fresh in inventory.  And SAF Lasaffire maintains that the instant yeasts will provide the home baker with as good a product as the cake yeast.  Don't know if it will, but, that's their story... 

I buy the 2 lb. package of SAF at Costco, too, and freeze what I don't use.  Started using it because B. Hensberger highly recommended it in her bread book.





Darth Lefty's picture
Darth Lefty

If you are really interested in a bewildering variety of yeasties, that definitely make different tastes, head to a homebrew store.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Brewers and vintners were some of the first people to utilize the work of Louis Pasteur back in the latter part of the 19th century. By isolating the dominant strain that gave their beer its characteristics, the brewers could utilize their research and turn it into increased profitability with a consistent quality product. Keep in mind that that making bread uses yeast in an aerobic situation while most brewing is done under anaerobic conditions.

This practice of isolating and protecting yeast strains continues today. There are yeast banks all over the world that contain samples of pure strains of yeast that can be cultivated to commercial use quantities should a brewery suffer contamination of its yeast strains.

Two breweries might use the same strain of yeast but it still takes the brewer's imagination and persistence to blend art and knowledge to bring about an end result that he or she can proudly call their own.