The Fresh Loaf

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Using Fresh Yeast?

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Using Fresh Yeast?

I have been reading the historical threads on fresh yeast, trying to get a handle on how best to convert my recipes and how best to measure the proper amount. The old school seems to be to cream the yeast with a small amount of sugar and a bit of the water from the recipe. Then It seems like some crumble it into the flour with the fingers which is my practice using instant.


Then the question of should I try to scoop into a teaspoon? I'm inclined to think it would be better to weigh the grams with the scale. With dry, it is easier for me to use a measure. I understand it is a 3:1 ratio for fresh over IDY and if you want to be picky, you need to hold back a few grams of liquid due to the water in the fresh yeast. My IDY weighs about 3g per tsp so an equivalent in fresh would be 9g.


For all of you who have been using fresh yeast please jump in here and tell me if I have the right idea on using fresh. My plan is to stop as of now with the IDY in the freezer and not look back. Most of my breads have some SD component in them but I am looking forward to this change. I'm also hoping that I too will experience the better crust and crumb that I have read so much about. Wish me luck!


Eric

rick.c's picture
rick.c

Hi Eric,


I really hadn't thought there was a difference.  Yeast is yeast right?  I mean, the yeast companies have hired people way smarter than us to develop the dry, and instant yeast to give us the best that yeast has to offer with the convenience of shelf life, not to mention instantness.


I do hope you are right though!  Please point me at or towards testamonials that fresh yeast is best.  And/ or let us know the results of your experimentation, as I am sure you will.  Heck, it will probably be a year from now that all TFLers will have a fresh yeast culture growing right next to the sourdough starter.


Again, Good Luck and I look forward to hearing of your results!


Rick

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Eric,


I'm only using fresh yeast.


Over here, cubes of fresh yeast weighing 50gr. are available in any grocery store, and they cost next to nothing. I think both Hamelman and Suas suggest a 3:1 substitution ratio between fresh and IDY, so you've got that down. When using fresh yeast, weigh it! Best of luck :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And have to say I like fresh but instant sure is convenient.  I wouldn't throw the instant away just yet and keep it as a back up if the fresh goes bad or you run out in the middle of a project.  It can happen.  You might be back to instant in a few months.   I tend to go back and forth.


Weigh it.  Just cut with a knife.  If it comes in cubes, a little practice and you will soon know if you need half a cube, a fourth, what ever.  If you have a bigger block, take a ruler and just drag the knife across making light markings so you can cut off roughly as needed.  You might want to list weights for amount equiv.  on a 3x5 card inside your baking cupboard.  


I have frozen the cubes, might check into that.


I use a postal scale in Linz when I have to. 


Good luck,   Mini

ehanner's picture
ehanner

hansjoakim-Mini, do you find the strength varies with age as the remainder sits in the cooler? One of the great things with IDY is that it stores so well in the freezer it's about the same today as it would be a year from now. Is it fair to say the performance doesn't change much in 60  days if stored at 40F?


Eric

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Eric,


I think you should treat fresh yeast as a "fresh" ingredient to your doughs. Most of the fresh yeast I buy at my local grocery store carries a "best before" date which is usually 2 to 3 weeks from date of purchase. I guess you can still use it beyond that date, but its leavening power (live yeast cell count) will be reduced as time goes by. I haven't thought about long-time storage in the freezer, since fresh yeast is so readily obtainable and cheap around here. I've read that you can freeze fresh yeast for 3 to 4 months just fine. Simply cut the yeast into smaller block size bits, and seal 'em and freeze 'em. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using! :)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks hansjoakim,


I think I'll follow that advice and freeze half of this until I get the feel for handling it.


Eric

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

NO!


and use twice as much fresh as dried no more!

suave's picture
suave

In the olden times my grandmother used to buy yeast in 4 oz sticks which she kept in a low drawer right under the freezer - she had one of those very old fridges where the freezer was not a separate compartment but a metal box inside the fridge.  Her yeast never gone bad.  I'm just saying.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

If in doubt, do a google search! "Freezing fresh yeast" turns up lots of hits, and they're all pretty much unanimous. YES, you can freeze fresh yeast. Just make sure you wrap it properly first. Defrost before use, and use preferrably within 24 hours after removing from the freezer.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

for all the birds to be flying in the wrong direction


25 plus years of expirence has taught me that you do not frezze fresh yeast since it will last 2 months at 40 F and at 35 F it will last longer


frezing will cause the contence ( the guts) to freez and expand breaking the cell wall when it is is unfrozen the guts pour out resulting in dead cells.


ever see a frozen glass milk bottle

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Hi Eric,


I, like Hansjoakim, only use fresh yeast. 20-gram cubes are available here in the supermarkets, though I tend to get mine from a local baker because it's higher quality. According to Hamelman, the fresh to dry yeast ratio is 3.3:1. Although I have not frozen any fresh yeast, I do have friends that do. Just make sure you store it properly (I'm thinking tupperware or somethign similar) before doing so.


Depending on the recipe and since I only mix by hand, I either rub the fresh yeast into the flour before adding any liquid or dissolve it in some liquid before adding it to the flour/dry ingredients. If you use a mixer, you probably don't need to do that and can just chuck it in while mixing.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Nathan, I appreciate hearing from you. Having used IDY for so long, I have come to be quite casual about how I use it. In general,  try to mix all my dry ingredients well before getting them wet. Even the salt goes in with the other dry items. When I see swirls in the crumb after having added WW or rye to a white mix, it reminds me that I need to do a better job of mixing the dry items. That in mind, I'm doubtful that salt added after autolyse is really fully incorporated, especially now that kneading is at a minimum and most every loaf is hand mixed.


I'm about to mix a double batch of Black Pepper Rye and plan to try out my fresh yeast crumble skills. When I have time, I want to make a side by side comparison of an Italian mix with a biga to see 1.)If they look the same, 2.)See if they taste the same and 3.) determine the correct ratio for converting this particular fresh yeast product compared to the IDY I used in the other batch.


Eric

Nathan's picture
Nathan

If there's a combination of different flours being used in the formula, I've gotten into the habit of mixing my flour with a whisk before adding liquid. I'm not sure that this is necessary but I don't think it can hurt. In my hand-mixing experience, I've noticed that the salt is fully incorporated in the dough after about 30 seconds to a minute of active mixing. I suppose this depends on your hand-mixing technique and speed. I use a 'low-flying' adaptation of Richard Bertinet's method. I don't really lift the dough high and slap it down. Instead, I lift the dough enough to give it a quarter turn and use the friction on my work surface to pull the dough towards me and fold it over, at which point I repeat the entire process. When I add the salt to the dough after the autolyse period the first thing I notice is that it immediately pulls water out of the dough -this really threw me when I first started baking, but thanks to Hamleman's and Dimuzio's I've learned that salt, like sugar, are hygroscopic. Once I start mixing the dough wants to pull apart, though after a few 'turns' the salt seems to work its way in.


The side-by-side experiment sounds interesting. I look forward to the results.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Eric & everybody,


Eric -- you can just crumble fresh yeast that's actually fresh into your flour IF there will be enough stretching and folding (or just friction) during the process to cause it to dissolve and disperse evenly.  Only you can decide if that's happening or not.  If you're hand-mixing, or just using low speed, the most assured way of getting even dispersion is usually to dissolve the fresh yeast in your water with a wisk.


As Hansjoakim suggested, fresh yeast works best when it is fresh.  The predictable shelf life/performance level of fresh yeast is about 3 weeks after the date of manufacture.  The use-by date on the package will usually be a good indicator.


Does all the yeast die overnight after 21 days? No.  But the techs who raise yeast for a living have to pick a time when there's noticeable falloff, and that's the time they chose -- from experience.  So if you buy a 1-pound block and cut it into half-ounce cubes, the ones you use 3 or 4 weeks from now won't raise the dough as quickly as they would on the same day you buy it.  Even if you freeze fresh yeast, there will be some percentage of the cells that die off.  Water in yeast cells can crystallize and cause a rupture in the cell walls when yeast is frozen.  That's why frozen dough companies double or triple the amount of yeast in their dough from what's normal.


Honestly, folks, I mean no offense to those who are attached to fresh yeast for any reason at all, but given its storage limitations, I would never recommend getting fresh yeast for home use UNLESS you can buy it and use it quickly -- just like any pro who uses it.  If longer-term storage is your need, then fresh yeast is, I think, an illogical choice.  Instant yeast is just as easy to use, is just as effective, and obviously keeps longer - allowing you to buy it in larger quantities without worrying about shelf life.


BTW -- nbicomputers' recommended conversion ratio is what yeast companies advise for "active dry yeast", which was the only kind of dry yeast for many years.  It uses quite a few dead yeast cells to envelope the live cells in a protective coat of sorts.


The "instant dry yeast", though, uses many fewer dead cells in its formulation, and that's why you need less of it by weight.  Yeast companies recommend only a third of the weight of fresh, although those figures are arrived at with dough temperatures that can exceed 80 degrees F.  If, like most artisans, you use a final dough temp of around 76-77 degrees, then a conversion factor of maybe 40% (instead of 33%) might be more appropriate.


--Dan DiMuzio

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I get it that there should be very little if any perceivable difference between breads raised by one over the other. It's just that I have read so many accounts from bakers who swear that fresh produces a better crust and a more flavorful crumb. Right here there are many good bakers who have access to both and choose fresh. I have to check it out for myself over a period of time. I'm not likely to beat myself over the outcome but if there is even a chance my French breads will have a crispier crust, for me it will be worth it.


When I came here a few years ago, everybody was kneading to get a window pane. Most of the authors were saying you had to mix intensively or at least improved. Even Julia Child and Danielle Forrester were showing us how you HAD to smack the dough, what was it 500 times to develop the gluten. Everyone was stuck on creating a hearth condition using a heavy stone and pre heating for an hour. I and others discovered that all of those things are unnecessary. We mix a minimal amount, fold a few times, bake on a sheet pan and cover the dough instead of steaming.


Can you tell I grew up in the age where we challenged everything? Lol, stay tuned.


Eric

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Actually Eric, I'd encourage you to try the fresh yeast and maybe do an instant yeast version of the same bread, using only about 40% as much instant as you would fresh, and keeping all other controllables the same -- time of fermentation, dough temp and ambient temp, hydration and so on.


Let the breads cool completely, and then ask someone in your family (out of your view) to take maybe 2 or 3 slices from each loaf and put them on paper plates that are ID'd on the bottom (the underside of the plate).  So you'd have 4 to 6 plates with one anonymous slice each -- 3 of the fresh yeast, and 3 of the instant.  Taste and see if there's a noticeable difference in flavor, texture, crumb structure -- whatever.  Unless you do the test blind, you can't be certain that you're not affected by expectations.  Have others taste for comparison as well.


I don't mean to guarantee there won't be any difference, but I think you'll observe that you won't nail the ID of each slice, and that whatever differences may exist are so minimal as to be unimportant.


Whatever you do there, good luck with it.  I'm sure it will taste great.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

That sounds like a fun experiment! I'm hoping for a future blind-test blog entry from Eric :)

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

from one pro to another


if you make 2 pounds of flour dough and use 1 ounce of yeast per batch that is 16 doughs i dont think there is anybody on this board that wount use up 1 pound of yeast in 2 months


in fact i use much more than that about 2 pounds every month and a half or so so at least for the people here i dont think storage is an issue


and it is much cheaper than dried


also i have yeast that is now more than the 21 days you stated and in a mix of egg bread i made yeasterday the dough was bulked fermented in 40 minutes and  proofed in 35 doese'nt look like mine started to die yet

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Point taken. It's cheap enough anyway.


Eric

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Thanks for the information on fresh yeast, Dan. I've always used fresh yeast, not really by choice, but because, where I live, it's readily available and it's just a question of walking down to the corner. To tell you the truth, it's easier to get my hands on fresh yeast than IDY. I have noticed a difference in the types of fresh yeast on sale here. The fresh yeast I get from my local baker has a different texture than what is sold in the supermarkets, the former has a stronger smell and crumbles easily while the latter has a weaker smell and tends to be more 'play-doh' like. I'm not sure why, maybe there's more water in the one found at the supermarket. With that said, I haven't noticed a difference in either's ability to raise dough efficiently.


Thanks again! I also wanted to congratulate you on your book. I have learned and continue to learn a lot from it.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Anything with water in it is subject to the same destruction when it freezes. There are a few other things I can think of that will work after freezing but not as well. Thanks Norm.


Eric